A 4-Step Plan to Keep Moving at Home
Published: April 17, 2020
With all the change that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, your exercise habits may be seriously suffering.
Maybe you attended a regular exercise class. Perhaps you met friends for a morning run or took a long walk at lunch with coworkers. Even if you were the type to go it alone on a treadmill or elliptical at the gym, your fitness world may have been turned upside down.
Whether you’re a workout warrior or just want to stay active, the following four steps can help you keep your exercise goals on track:
- Set a goal for how long you’ll exercise.
- Set a goal for frequency of exercise.
- Rotate the type of exercise.
- Have someone keep you accountable.
Time: Set a goal for how long you’ll exercise
If you’re new to working out, contact your primary care provider first to go over your plan. You might consider starting with 15 minutes of exercise at a time (stopping sooner if you experience shortness of breath). Increase that time by five minutes each week or when the workout becomes easy.
Try to work up to 45 minutes of exercise per day. But remember: You don’t necessarily have to do it all at once. It’s generally accepted that three 10-minute walks are as beneficial as one 30-minute walk.
Frequency: Set a goal for the number of days per week
A good goal for beginners is to try exercising at least three days per week. As you’re able, increase the frequency of your workouts. But remember to listen to your body and take time off for rest and recovery.
Variety: Mix up your workouts
If you normally work out inside, try heading outdoors for some fresh air. A change of scenery can help keep you motivated.
Especially if you’re exercising daily, mix up the type of exercise you’re doing to avoid monotony and overuse of muscle groups.
Here are some examples of exercises you can incorporate into your home routine:
- One of the simplest movements for most people, walking, is a great whole-body exercise. Get out into the fresh air if you can. Start with a flat walking path, and gradually add in hills. Marching in place is a good substitute if you’re stuck inside.
- Dust off those bikes, and pump up those tires. Then take advantage of all the trails in the Omaha area (be sure to check for restrictions or closures ahead of time).
- Mix in a few minutes of jumping rope or jumping jacks for a more advanced cardio program.
- Go on, bust a move! Play some music and make up a dance routine. Involve your kids in creating a routine that can be done by the whole family.
To get started, spend one day each week completing arm exercises with weights and another day performing leg exercises with weights. Here’s a good beginner’s workout that incorporates weighted and non-weight exercises.
If you don’t have weights at home, substitute soup cans for handheld weights. Make your own leg weights by weighing out beans or counting out pennies (181 pennies equals 1 pound). Put them in a sealed plastic bag, then place it in a long sock to tie around your ankle. Start with 1 pound and increase by 1 pound when an exercise gets easy.
Resistance bands are another option. And, of course, you can perform many exercises with just your body weight.
If you prefer to take it slow, try tai chi. The slow and controlled movements that emphasize breathing may feel easy, but you’ll be surprised by how much of a workout it really is. Search YouTube for routines to get started.
Yoga is an excellent exercise for muscle building and stretching because its poses are held. Again, you can find plenty of ideas for routines on YouTube. Keep in mind that if a pose feels too hard for you, it probably is. There’s no shame in skipping it and trying it again after you’ve gained strength and/or flexibility.
There are seemingly countless other workout options out there. Don’t be afraid to try something new, even if there’s a bit of a learning curve. There’s no sense in doing exercises you don’t enjoy.
Accountability: Find a partner to keep you in line
For many of us, that internal spark to exercise isn’t always there. That’s where having a buddy who holds you accountable comes in. Of course, that may be a little more challenging now that many gyms are closed and social gatherings are discouraged.
Challenging? Yes. Impossible? No.
You can still lean on family and friends to push you to improve. It may just look a little different. For instance, you might:
- Have a group text with workout buddies you no longer see.
- Have a video chat with a friend before or after a workout.
- Post on social media about your exercise goals and progress, then tag others and challenge them to take part.
Do it for you
Of all the benefits that regular exercise can offer, perhaps the most important right now is its ability to relieve anxiety and stress. Whether you’re taking that first step or recommitting yourself to exercise, take the next step – and have fun.