How to Exercise when You’re Stuck at Home

woman stretching in bed. Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash

Many of us have been stuck at home for four months or more. Those of us who are chronically ill are going to be stuck at home for even longer. This isn’t the most motivating situation for remaining fit, but taking care of our health is really important. There are things you can do to stay active, even if you’re stuck at home. Here are some ideas.

1. Do exercise videos

Search YouTube for exercises you like; there are many options available completely free. Be sure to start slow and increase intensity as your strength and endurance improve. If your library is doing curbside pickup, you could consider borrowing some exercise DVDs.

I’ve borrowed and enjoyed many workout DVDs from my local library. One that is a lot of fun is Billy Blank Jr.’s Dance with Me. Billy is the son of Billy Blanks, the Tae-Bo guy. While Tae Bo is far too intense for a lot of people, I like Billy Blanks Jr.’s focus on fun and doing what you can to keep moving. His dance workouts are easier to adapt than Tae Bo, in my opinion.

I’ve also borrowed a Brazilian Dance Workout, some Bollywood Dance workouts, and cardio kickboxing ones. A lot of these are a little too intense for beginners, but many of them are adaptable to your fitness level. You can also just start with 10 minutes a day of the easiest workout on the DVD, and move up as your endurance improves.

There is a plethora of exercise classes available all over the Internet, and many of these classes are free. Here’s a great list from the New York Times for various online workouts.

2. Have a dance party

During this time of isolation, music can really lift our spirits. What kind of music gets your body going? Put that music on and go wild! Enjoy the tunes and dance to your heart’s content. Dance parties are great because it’s an easy activity for everyone to do. A dance party can be as short as 1 song, and anyone can do it! You can dance if you’re able-bodied, you can dance if you’re in a wheelchair, and you can even do it if you’re in bed. You can also do it if you’re perfectly healthy. Do what works for you and just move whatever body part you can move. Feel the music.

How to Exercise When You're Stuck at Home, Background photo of a woman stretching in front of a laptop, by Kari Shea on Unsplash

3. Do bodyweight resistance training

Depending on your ability and experience level, this could be as simple as leg raises while sitting in a chair to as complex as Animal Flow. Bodyweight resistance training is a great option because you can do it anywhere, and you don’t need any equipment to do it. Think push ups (or knee push ups), squats, hip bridges, planks, etc. Many of these exercises, however, are not beginner-friendly, despite what some may say.

Squats are actually difficult to do with good form if you have tight hips and/or glutes and if you’re not that experienced with exercise. Push-ups aren’t easy to do well, either. It’s best to start small. For example, instead of squats, start with getting in and out of a chair with good form. If you’re a beginner but not an ultra beginner, and you want to master the basic bodyweight exercises mentioned above, Gold Medal Bodies has a great blog post all about this. Don’t be intimidated by the videos in the beginning of the article; these are demonstrating the advanced form of the exercises. If you keep reading to the end, it’ll tell you beginner-friendly exercises to do on your way to mastering the more advanced ones.

If you’re stuck in bed, you can still do some bodyweight resistance training, stretches, and more. These exercises will help you prevent bed sores and will aid in slowing down muscle wasting. If you’re in a wheelchair, you can also do resistance training exercises in your chair. Which exercises you choose will depend on your mobility level.

4. Use an app

There are several apps that give you short workouts that you can do with zero or little equipment. One I like and have used is 30Day Fitness Challenge. This app offers short little work outs based on what you want to work on. You can do full-body or focus on legs, arms, back, etc. These little workouts often take me only 5-10 minutes to complete. It’s worth checking out, and it’s free. 

What are you doing to stay active during the pandemic?


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