Woman sitting on exercise mat and using laptop at home

The COVID-19 physical distancing and stay-at-home orders have changed daily life for everyone. That’s especially true if you’re used to getting in your workouts at the local gym.

Without equipment, fitness classes and gym buddies, it can be hard to get motivated to work out regularly. But staying active is crucial — it can help prevent chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and it may even give your immune system a boost.

“Aside from the physical health benefits, exercise can also improve mood and mental health,” says Rance Bryant, M.S., Director, Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center. “That can be especially helpful as you’re coping with the COVID-19 outbreak.”

If you’re finding yourself in a fitness slump, getting creative with your exercise routine may help. Here are some ways you can mix up your home workouts.

Get outside

As spring moves in and the weather warms up, you’ll have more opportunities to get outside for activity. If you’re feeling restless at home, try going for a walk, jog, hike or bike ride to get your heart rate up.

If you find yourself in an area with crowded trails or paths, try to seek out a new, less-crowded route. Remember to keep a distance of at least 6 feet from other people and wear a cloth face covering.

Yardwork is another great way to burn calories. Try spending some time weeding the garden, mowing the lawn or planting flowers for spring. Your muscles will thank you for it!

Join a virtual group fitness class

Many gyms, dance studios and yoga studios are offering live fitness classes through video platforms like Zoom. Joining a virtual class may help you feel more connected as you work out with other people.

If you’re thinking about joining a live class, make sure to add it to your calendar. Blocking off time during your day can help you keep your commitment to exercise.

Try bodyweight exercises

If you don’t have a home gym or weightlifting equipment, don’t worry. There are plenty of strength training exercises you can do with your own body weight. 

Here are some simple body weight exercises you can try:

  • Push-ups. If you find these easy, try adding a rotation at the top of the push-up. Rotate your body so the left arm extends over your head and your body forms a T. Repeat on the other side after the next push-up. Aim for two sets of 10-12 reps.
  • Floor bridges. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Push into your heels and slowly raise your hips off the ground until your knees, pelvis and shoulders are in line. You can add some difficulty by raising one leg and lowering it and repeating with the other leg. Aim for two sets of 10-12 reps.
  • Squats. If you want to add some work for your stabilization muscles, try doing squat jumps. After doing the squat, jump up with your arms overhead. Gently land in a squat and hold the position for three seconds. Aim for eight reps.
  • Single leg balance. Balance on one leg and slowly lift the other leg out to the side. After holding for a few seconds, lift the leg to the front and then the back. Aim for six reps before switching to the other side.
  • Lunges. You can do traditional forward lunges or try side lunges with a balance challenge. To do this, extend your left leg to the side and bend your right leg, then push off the right leg and balance upright on your left leg with your right leg pulled up. Aim for 12 reps and then repeat on the other side.
  • Planks. Try to hold a forearm plank or push-up position plank for 20-30 seconds. Repeat up to five times. If you find these easy, try rotating and doing side planks for the same amount of time. 
  • Chair dips. Hold on to the seat of a chair and put your feet about 18 inches away from the chair. Bend your arms and lower your hips toward the ground, then straighten your arms. Aim for 10-15 reps and repeat up to five times.

Build a home circuit

If you’re used to doing a circuit workout, like CrossFit, try building one around your house or backyard. Combine sets of body weight exercises with rounds of cardio, such as jumping jacks or running in place. This infographic on creating a circuit home workout from the American Heart Association can help guide you in building a home circuit workout. 

Just dance

Dancing is a great way to get your heart rate up without feeling like you’re exercising. It’s even more fun when you invite others. Try organizing a nightly or weekly dance party with your roommates or family and change up the music or theme each night. You could also do a virtual dance party with friends on a video chat platform. 

Search YouTube for your favorite exercise 

Whether you’re into yoga, Zumba, cardio workouts or strength training, there’s an exercise video out there for you. Many online fitness platforms are also offering free or discounted memberships right now. Just remember to change up the workout routine from time to time to stay interested.

Make sure you keep moving

Generally, healthy adults should aim to get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week, or a combination of the two. You should also aim to incorporate strength training exercises at least twice a week. 

“A sedentary lifestyle can lead to many serious health problems, from diabetes to heart disease, so it’s crucial that you stay active even while you’re stuck at home,” says Bryant. “Find what works best for you and keeps you motivated.”

At Riverside, we’re dedicated to caring for you and your family during COVID-19. Learn more about prevention and treatment on our Navigating COVID-19 hub.

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