So you’re stuck at home and not able to exercise as usual, and that’s frustrating. Look, I get it. These are unprecedented times. Because of the new coronavirus, some of us (maybe all of us, by the time this comes out) are being asked not only to practice social distancing but to go a step further and shelter in place. I can assure you, if you are having a major WTF moment, you are not alone. I went to grad school for almost eight years studying public health, and this seems like a scenario we only had to pretend to figure out for an epidemiology test. Only, to be honest, the most I remember having to do was figure out which food was likely to have caused a pretend foodborne-illness outbreak. This real-life scenario is next level. And, as a public health Ph.D., I will tell you, yes, it is serious.
However, panic, while understandable and extremely relatable, TBQH (!!!), will do nothing for us other than perhaps cause us to engage in hoarding behavior, which we absolutely should not be doing right now. (Looking at you, TP collectors.) By the way, if your anxiety about the new coronavirus is also next level right now, you’re not alone. Check out the tips and ideas for managing it here.
One tricky thing for a lot of us, myself included, is that movement, working out, and exercise classes are what we do to keep ourselves calm and level-headed. Only now, we can’t go to the gym or to our favorite class. Granted, a very minor concern in the grand scheme of things. But when you consider together all the little adjustments we’re all making right now, it is pretty overwhelming to think about how much of our lives is changing. What will we do if we are no longer able to walk in and see all those familiar faces and fling all that collective sweat all over the mirrors? Hear the clanging of those plates being thrown on the bar? But my squat rack! And my bench press!! And the tire flips and rope slams and the guy in the corner grunting! My yoga instructor’s Child’s Pose massage!! GAHHH!
Truth is, we need movement for our mental and physical health. It likely didn’t take much more than a weekend of social distancing for you to see that. And now that many of us are mandated to stay home, we are going to have to figure out how to do this on our own for the next few weeks. Gulp. Don’t fret, I got you.
First things first, your typical day and schedule will be anything but typical. These are some seriously atypical times. Take a really deep breath and settle into some peace with that. It’s okay that you are being pushed to change your routine, change your mindset, and slow down a bit. Second, remember that movement comes in many forms, from actual workouts to walks around the block to tricep dips on the kitchen counter. They all count. Count toward what, you ask? Toward you staying calm and healthy while also staying home. Now, we all have different living situations and lifestyles, which means we have varying needs and options. But there are plenty of things that many of us can do throughout our days to get little bouts of activity aside from our normal workouts. Here are some ideas for how to move your body when you’re stuck at home.
1. Get outside for a walk, bike, run, skip, whatever.
With all this confinement, fresh air will be good for all aspects of your health, if you take the proper precautions. If you live in a place where you are able to go outside while still maintaining social distance (six feet), take advantage and go for a walk by yourself (or with those who are already living within your home boundary and also practicing social distancing).
Even if you’re practicing social distancing, and as long as you’re not sick, you can continue to walk, hike, run, and be outside (as long as you maintain proper hygiene and social distance). You should also be allowed to spend time outside if you’re sheltering in place; read up on your city’s rules about how to do so safely before heading out. And read up on how to safely play outside with your kids here.
When you return home, make sure you remove your shoes (many do that already), partake in some of that magical hand hygiene, and launder your clothes.
Note: If you live in a super-crowded city, this will be far more challenging for you to accomplish while still abiding by the social-distance or shelter-in-place recommendations. If you can find a time when fewer people are outside and you’re able to maintain distance, I would adjust your schedule to try to make that happen at least a few days during the week.
2. Set a recurring alarm to do 10 reps of 10 exercises.
How about 10 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups, 10 squats, 10 lunges (each side), 10 burpees, 10 tricep dips, 10 glute bridges, 10 single-leg deadlifts (each side), 10 sit-ups, and 10 mountain climbers. There are also a ton of ideas for bodyweight exercises here so you can invent your own routine.
Whether you are WFH and sitting in front of your computer or you are “WFH” and sitting in front of Netflix, your body needs to stand up, stretch, walk around, jump up and down, dance—something. If you don’t like the above, come up with any short sequence of movements or stretches that you can do between meetings or episodes of that current binge.
Create something that gets you moving but that doesn’t overwhelm you. Keep it short and sweet.
3. Any time you take a call, move around for the duration.
I unconsciously do this all the time. This can be a walk around the block or just around your house. If you have stairs you can walk up and down those as long as you trust yourself not to trip! I’m not saying I’ve taken non-video conference calls that I didn’t really need to speak up in while running or biking, but I’m also not saying I haven’t.
4. If you’re sheltering in place with young kids, play with them.
They cannot sit still, as I’m sure you are aware. Play with them the way they play. They get up and down off the ground constantly; let that count as your burpees for the day. They will give you a great little workout if you actually do as they do.
5. Have scheduled and impromptu dance parties.
In your kitchen, in the hallway, up the stairs, or wherever. End your day or celebrate finishing a task or a meeting with a three-minute dance party. Play your favorite song and just go for it. Music will help you tremendously throughout this whole thing, so if you keep some good playlists going, you will likely be moved to move. Go with it. Again, if you have kids, get them involved. Have them teach you a dance!
6. Give yourself a challenge for the duration of your shelter in place/social distancing.
Maybe you want to be able to do a certain number of push-ups or pull-ups or you want to practice headstands or be able to plank for a certain number of seconds or minutes. Now is a great time to give yourself a new little challenge that you can work at every day. Chart your progress (either in writing or in video/photo). This gives you something very specific to work on every day and will also give you some self confidence as you actually watch your progress.
Along the same lines, challenge your friends or family members. See who can do more squats in a minute or more pushups throughout the day. See who can clock the most steps around the house. Not only will this get you to do some random extra activity, it will connect you and your people, which is crucial right now.
7. Keep a yoga mat in a part of your space that you walk by a lot.
Just having it stare at you is sometimes enough for you to be called to Down Dog. Maybe make a rule that every time you get up you do a couple of poses. These poses for tight hips are great for anyone who’s sitting way more than usual right now.
8. Treat your home like an improvised gym.
I will admit I cannot help but do weird things like L-sits and tricep dips on the counters in my kitchen. I also do lunge stretches or standing Half Pigeon Poses on my bathroom counters while I blow-dry my hair. Maybe it’s calf raises on your stairs, hamstring stretches on your couch, standing in Tree Pose while stirring something on the stove. Are these all things I do regularly? I mean, mayyybe. But now more than ever I’m relying on my space and the furniture in it to help me move around a bit. Every time I walk through the kitchen—tricep dips on the counter. When I walk into my bedroom—30-second wall sit. You get it.
Sheltering in place does not need to mean that you literally stay in one place in your house the whole time. Get up. Move around. Shake the cabin fever right out of you. Your body, your mind, and likely your housemates, coworkers, the people at the grocery store will all thank you. Stay healthy, stay home, but stay moving, friends!
Original article published here!