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As the world’s population is slowly getting more and more affected by the coronavirus pandemic, millions and millions of people are hunkering down at home with city-wide lockdown orders. With safety precautions closing all nonessential businesses, many of us are left without access to our usual gyms, studios, and even parks to get our fitness routine in. With all this happening, it can become increasingly difficult to keep up a normal exercise regimen. And even if you are getting some activity in, you may be frustrated that you are not getting your normal level of exercise. But now, more than ever, keeping your body active and healthy is important. Establishing and maintaining a workout routine could have a major impact on the anxiety that you may be feeling due to the world’s current situation and help cope with other symptoms such as stress and depression.
It’s very normal to feel antsy and less motivated to workout since the world has been turned upside down. Big, unprecedented changes to our daily life are uncomfortable and sometimes unwelcome. Switching to a home workout routine is not easy. It takes some space, accommodation, and some intrinsic motivation. But fear not, in light of the outbreak, many resources have become more readily available in order to help us stay in shape.
Staying healthy and in shape while under quarantine is totally doable and we’re here to give you some tips and ideas for doing exactly that! Even if you have a small place to work with, little to no equipment, or even little time, there are plenty of options to help you exercise during this very unique chapter of the world. Whether you are a seasoned fitness fanatic or just starting to exercise, here is a small guide to answer some questions and help you get going during the lockdown.
What is the right amount of exercise during stay-at-home orders?
Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving and your blood pumping. According to the World Health Organization, or WHO, adults should try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week in order to stay healthy.
We know that 150 minutes every week can seem like a daunting task, especially with our busy modern lives, but if you are able to budget your time throughout the week, it will feel much more manageable. The good news is you can divide it up however you want, so you don’t have to do it all at one time. Setting aside 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week is more than enough to keep your body active. You can even break it up into multiple even smaller chunks of time if need be. It really all comes down to finding the right balance that works for you and your schedule!
Getting Started: Preparedness is Key!
Your schedule has probably shifted dramatically due to working from home. Many with kids even have to make their a makeshift homeschool or daycare! To make things easier, add a little order to your day by mapping it all out. Having a game plan and scheduled times for each activity gives you a better chance of following them and less time to be confused about what to do next. For example:
- Wake up and go to sleep around the same time every day
- Dedicate blocks of time for work or school
- Set times for each meal
- Wear workout apparel
Start with your necessary tasks and prioritize them. Once you have them identified and scheduled, you can figure out where in the day you will have time and energy for home workouts and add it to your daily schedule. It may be helpful to add reminders to your calendar so you don’t miss a workout.
Set Up a Dedicated Workout Space
This one may seem obvious, but it is an easy and effective way to maintain a regular routine. Setting up a dedicated space for in-home workouts makes it easier to hop right into your exercises. After a week or so your brain will get into the habit of associating your dedicated space as a place to be active and make it easier to transition from other tasks. Before your first workout, get your space ready by:
- Moving furniture and other items that can get in the way
- Gathering all resistance bands, weights, or anything that can be used as weights into space so they are ready to go and easily accessible
- Prepare any other items you might need, such as towels, water bottles, energy bars, or yoga mats
Get an Accountability Partner
Working out at home requires a lot of discipline and mental fortitude as many of us associate our home as a place to relax and unwind for the day. But getting a partner that will help motivate you and keep you accountable can help ease the difficulty of keeping up with your regimen by yourself!
Finding a partner could be as easy as having someone else in your household perform your exercises with you! It’s much more enjoyable when you have a workout buddy to train with and ends up being a win-win as you get to do your routine and keep your household healthy and active!
If you live alone or if the members in your household are not able to join you, there are still ways to find a partner! Text a friend or family member and ask if they are willing to help you in your fitness endeavor. All it takes is a simple call or text to check in to see if you are exercising. Bonus points if you get them to exercise as well and do the same for them!
Track Your Workouts
Tracking your workouts via free fitness apps or even just logging them in a workout journal is another way that you can keep yourself accountable and motivated. Also, this provides you with a way of seeing your progress which can give you a sense of accomplishment and an emotional boost to keep it up.
Take Advantage of Resources
Working out at home has never been more accessible than today. There are many online providers that are offering free classes to help people stay fit during the quarantine. A quick search on the internet will bring up a ton of resources you can use that are entirely free! Even YouTube is a great resource as many people post their whole fitness routines for you to follow. They even have a plethora of different types from yoga to weight-lifting or Crossfit to running. You can find virtually any and every type of workout with a little bit of time on the web.
There are also video games that make being active fun and sometimes even make you forget you are working out. There are many games on different platforms that you can play with people you are quarantined with. Games like “Just Dance” or “Dance Dance Revolution” will get you moving all while feeling like you’re just grooving to the music. There are many games that simulate activities such as skateboarding, climbing, soccer, tennis, and much, much more. Virtual reality is another platform that can build up a sweat as well! These can be great alternatives when normal workouts get boring.
Ease into it!
Remember that fitness levels widely vary from person to person. That 150-minute threshold may be very intimidating if you are just starting out or have not worked out in some time. Your body knows itself best, and you should listen to it! If the threshold is really taxing on your body, consider ramping down the intensity of your exercises. Not everyone can train like an Olympian starting off. You’re not going to improve your overall physical fitness in a single day, but you can definitely hurt yourself in a day. It is important to know your limits and adjust the intensity accordingly. A good starting goal is to make sure you move throughout your time at home and to avoid staying stationary all day.
Once you get comfortable and workouts start feeling like a breeze, then you can start adding more vigorous exercises in your arsenal.
Don’t Let Setbacks Stop You!
Maybe you forgot, maybe there was too much work on your plate and you didn’t have time, or maybe you just did not have the motivation to workout. We’re all human, we all have setbacks. It’s ok for these things to happen. You have to understand that no one is perfect and life can get in the way. The important thing is to not let it disrupt or end the journey you have started! If you are unable to stick to your schedule for one day for whatever reason, try to get back into your rhythm the next. Exercise is not a one-day solution, it’s a long term goal and as long as you stick to your guns and keep persistent you will get results!
Remember some physical activity is better than none at all! If you are having one of THOSE days, getting up and simply walking around your house every now and then can help! For example, if you have to get on a call, get up and walk around while talking, or even do some squats during a commercial break while watching TV. If you can move more and sit less, you’ll start feeling much better.
Go Outside (If You Can Safely)
Remember to follow social distancing guidelines with this one, but going outside and getting some fresh air can be a blessing in times of quarantine and lockdown. Even just going for a walk around your neighborhood is a great way to help not only your physical health but your mental health as well.
Walking is a great and easy way to get some of the physical activity you need for health benefits. Walking requires no special skills and no special and expensive equipment. Whenever possible, getting to do your cardio outside while keeping a healthy distance from others can help with the anxiety of having to be home all the time. Here are some of the advantages of being outside:
- Feels Less Like a Chore: People have less trouble spending more time working out because exercising outdoors does not feel as forced.
- Easy to Switch Things Up: If your routine is getting too easy for you there are plenty of ways to ramp up the difficulty. Some examples are running, increasing the distance you travel, going on a hike, increasing the incline/decline of your route. etc.
- Vitamin D and the Sun: Just being outside and getting your daily dose of Vitamin D can help with your immune system as well as your overall mood.
- Adds Variety: Working out in the same spot doing the same workouts can be boring. Going outside gives you endless possibilities of where to go and what to see.
- Much More Enjoyable: let’s just face it, going outside feels better. Many people enjoy it more because fresh air and freedom are unmatched feelings which can make people more eager to get their workout in.
Can exercise help protect you from the coronavirus?
Exercise will not prevent you from catching or transmitting coronavirus. The only true way to avoid getting the virus is to avoid contact with anyone who is or has been infected. While being fit won’t protect you from it, it does offer many other protective effects for you. Staying active will improve many aspects of your health, which includes boosting your immune system. It has also proven to reduce stress and anxiety – both side effects that can be felt from prolonged lockdown. Exercise can also release endorphins, chemicals in your brain that can help revitalize your mind and your body.
A good fitness regimen can be exactly what you need to keep yourself in high spirits during these trying times. Combined with a good diet and some persistence, you can create good habits that can continue once restrictions end. Take on the challenge to better your health and you may even come out of lockdown better than you started!