Across the country, people are staying home in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus and to stay healthy. That means many of us are suddenly less active than we used to be.
If you’re self-isolating, you’re not exercising at the gym, taking an on-site yoga class, shopping at the mall, running your usual errands, or even walking very much like you would have on the job. And that could be harmful for your health in other ways, researchers recently pointed out in the journal Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.
Exercise is particularly important if you have heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and/or lung disease. Regular physical activity helps you manage these conditions and keeps them from getting worse.
Another plus: Regular physical activity helps your mental health in these challenging times.
The report urges Americans to try to follow general exercise guidelines for good health. It’s important to contact your physician before beginning any new exercise program though. If you’re not used to it, that includes doing moderate aerobic activity (walking briskly; gardening; housework) at least 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes. You can do more vigorous activities like running, cycling, and rope jumping with your doctor’s okay. Resistance training (lifting weights or using stretch bands to work muscles) 2 times a week is also important for overall fitness, but only with your doctor’s approval.
Because you’re probably not as mobile as you are used to being, the researchers suggest increasing your exercise time slightly to make up for it. But any movement is better than none!
Here are some fun, easy ways to stay active—and boost your heart health—while you’re stuck at home:
- When the weather is mild, walk briskly or wog (walking as fast as you can without jogging) around the neighborhood. Just be sure to stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- If you have kids in tow, head for the backyard to play soccer or a game of tag. Shoot some hoops if you have a basketball hoop.
- Walk up and down stairs in your home to get your heart rate up and your lungs working harder. Repeat several times. In between the stair climbing, walk back and forth along a hallway.
- No stairs? No problem. You can march in place, bringing your knees up high to increase your effort.
- Use resistance bands to strengthen arm, shoulder, neck, and back muscles. Or use common objects like cans of food and filled water bottles as weights.
- Listen to your favorite songs and dance in your living room. It’s more fun when the whole family gets involved!
- Put together a mini-circuit training plan with pushups, squats, lunges, planks, and even jumping jacks for a more typical workout.
- Check out YouTube and fitness apps for free exercise classes you can take right in your family room. Many yoga and fitness studios are now providing links to online classes for a fee.
It can help to make a daily exercise schedule while you’re sheltering in place. Or just plan to get up and move while you are watching a favorite TV show or movie. You can take fitness breaks during commercials or set a timer to go off at regular intervals as a reminder. Anything goes.
With luck and good social distancing, we hope the coronavirus crisis will pass soon and you’ll return to your normal schedule. It will be easier to revive your regular exercise routine if you have managed to stay active. So keep moving!