With many people staying inside due to the coronavirus, exercise is more important than ever. Here are some tips for staying active during this pandemic.
Tips for Staying Active During a Pandemic
Get Into a Rhythm Many of us have recently found whatever habits and routines we were in totally changed. “We’ve had to rapidly adjust to staying home and practicing social distancing,” says licensed clinical professional counselor Sarah Farris, a licensed clinical professional counselor and founder of the counseling center Chicago Mind and Body. “While you can’t turn back the clock, setting a regular movement routine can help you feel more settled. If it’s possible to keep your before-pandemic workout time, that’s great. But if that time doesn’t work right now, try out a new one,” says Justin Kompf, CSCS, a strength and conditioning specialist at Clientel3 fitness studio in Boston.
Find Connection “Even though we’re social distancing, social support is still more important than ever. Exercising with others (whether they’re members of your household or you’re connecting virtually), will help you feel more supported in both your workouts and life,” says Lisa Lewis, EdD, a licensed psychologist in private practice in Boston. Thanks to technology, you’ve got a lot of options for virtual group workouts. Consider exercising with a friend or family member via Zoom, hiring a personal trainer you can connect with virtually, or streaming workout classes via websites and apps such as Beachbody On Demand or Studio.
Try Something New “Think of this [time] as an opportunity to get stronger or fitter in different ways,” says online trainer and strength coach Kourtney A. Thomas, CSCS. “Healthy movement doesn't look just one specific way, and making sure we use our bodies in different ways can be a huge plus in the long run.” Now might be a great time to ramp up an area of fitness that’s easy to do at home that you may not have previously spent as much time on, like flexibility or body weight training, or aerobic activity (running or cycling outside is still allowed), explains Patrick Hageman, a personal trainer and Tier X Coach at Equinox in Chicago.
Pick and Choose What Works for You “Social media is flooded with a lot of creative at-home exercises and workout options right now. But that doesn’t mean you have to do them all,” Lewis says. “Take what you like and ditch the rest.” When you see new workouts online, purposefully think through what is or isn’t the best fit given your likes, dislikes, available equipment, and fitness level. Respond to each one with either “That looks awesome. That’s for me!” or “That looks cool, but it’s not for me.”
Make Movement a Household Activity “Sometimes, throwing a cartoon on the TV can successfully entertain the troops and buy you time for a workout, but that’s not always the case if you have kids or other family members home. Can you make movement a family-wide activity,” says Holly Perkins, CSCS, a personal trainer and creator of The Glutes Project at-home workout programs. Play an active game like tag or even Twister— bonus points if you have a yard to play in or there’s a public park you can use (where you can keep a safe distance from others). Getting outside is fundamental for mental health and further increases the mood-lifting benefits of movement.
Break Up Sitting Adopt the philosophy of “everything counts,” Thomas says. Every bit of movement and activity you do throughout the day absolutely does contribute to your health and fitness, he says. “And it can take a lot of pressure off when it feels like you actually have way less time and space and energy to get in formal exercise. This is definitely a philosophy that serves us well now, and in the future.” “Break up hours spent on the couch in front of a computer screen with some walking around the house, stretching your back, and opening your chest,” says Todd Sinett, a chiropractor based in New York City.
Reach Out for Help “Now is definitely the time to use the tools that are still available to you to help bolster the motivation, accountability, or support you need to stay active and healthy,” Thomas says. Those tools might include: a training professional, a psychologist, setting up a group text chain with friends (for accountability), downloading a fitness app, or signing up for a fitness challenge.