By Kristina Schlecht

I would have never thought I would experience a quarantine during my lifetime. This is unchartered territory for all of us. For many Americans and others around the world, we are experiencing an unprecedented level of isolation right now, being stuck in our homes for an extended period of time. Being confined to a certain space brings many challenges. One challenge in particular is how to stay active. 

According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (1), these guidelines recommend that adults spend at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity cardiorespiratory exercise, 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity, or a combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity exercise per week. Ideally, this aerobic activity should be spread out across the week such as 30 minutes a day, 5 times a week. Additional benefits can be gained from moderate cardiorespiratory activity beyond 5 hours a week and resistance training that is performed 2 or more days per week with exercises for all the major muscle groups. 

For those of you thinking, how can I get this cardiorespiratory and resistance training in each day on top of my responsibilities (e.g., work, watching and/or teaching school to the kids, cooking, etc.), keep reading for easy ways to incorporate activity into your daily routine.

 

 

Walking/Jogging/Running

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If the rules in your area permit you to go outside and its nice enough weather, go for a walk, jog, or run (practicing social distancing of course). If you have a treadmill and prefer that to the outdoors, use it! Easy ways to incorporate this is in the morning before you go to work, during your lunch break, or right after work or dinner. Feel free to implement “family walks” if you are stuck in quarantine with other family members. 

The more you incorporate others and get your family on board, the better you will stick to it and have something to look forward to. If you have a dog this makes walks even easier since you’ll likely already need to be taking him out for a bit to burn some energy and it gives you some companionship. 

One way that I have incorporated more walking into my schedule is during the evenings when I want to take a break to listen to a podcast or audiobook. I simply bring my headphones with and start walking. I feel so accomplished being able to get steps in while I listen to a new book or educate myself with a podcast, and not to mention time goes by very quickly!

 

 

Outdoor Activities

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If you love being outdoors or are living in a tiny apartment, spend some time outside. Some good ways to get some exercise outdoors are mowing the lawn, planting flowers/trees, gardening, going on a bike ride, going on a hike, and playing with your children or a dog. We are in Spring so now is the perfect time for many of these activities and you will feel rejuvenated with getting some fresh air.

 

 

Indoor Activities

vacuum-cleaning

 

When you can’t get outside, try some active indoor activities like having a dance party (learn that new TikTok dance you’ve been eying, or have a dance battle with your kids!), cleaning the house (surprising this burns a lot of calories and will add up to many steps), playing with your children or the dog, and playing active video games. Try to limit your non-active activities to mind-stimulating activities like doing a puzzle, playing a board game, reading, or learning how to put a piece of equipment or furniture together.

 

 

Stand-Up

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This isn’t a big one but something that I forget to do on a daily basis as I’ve been recently learning how to work from home. Stand-up more often and throughout the day, every 30 minutes to an hour. Use that conference call you have to get some stretching in (if you do not need to share video). If you are working from home, you can create your own “stand up desk” by taking a cardboard box or books and place your monitor and keyboard at standing height. This requires a bit of extra effort to assemble and dis-assemble but this will incentivize you to keep standing once you’ve already assembled it. 

 

 

Jumping Rope

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Jumping rope is not just for kids! If you have a jump rope or can easily purchase one off of amazon, this is a great cardiovascular activity that can be fun, challenging, and time-saving. Make sure you get a rope that is at a good height for you by ensuring the tops of the rope meet your armpits when standing straight. If the rope is too long, just wrap it across your hands or wrists a few times. Make it challenging by practicing some double unders. 

 

 

Climbing Steps/Hill

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If you have steps in your house or a hill outside, incorporate this into your walk, workout, or just daily routine. Adding in a few flights of steps is a great way to add steps to your count and get your heart rate up. 

 

 

Virtual Exercise Classes

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Take advantage of the free virtual exercise classes many companies are offering during this time. You can find a variety of classes from yoga to HITT to boot camp style and more. Just remember to be aware of your limitations and modify exercises if you need to.

 

 

Bodyweight Circuit Training

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No equipment at home? No problem! Perform bodyweight exercises in a circuit fashion. What does this mean? Perform back to back exercises (approximately 3-10) with no rest between exercises and then rest for 30-60 seconds. Repeat 2-5 times. Great examples of bodyweight exercises to work your entire body and increase your heart rate include burpees, jumping jacks, push-ups, mountain climbers, squat jumps, lunges, glute bridges, ice-skaters, and planks. 

 

 

Weightlifting

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If you are trying to build muscle or strength, weightlifting should be apart of your routine. Some of you may have a larger space and equipment to perform heavier lifts but those without this can still build strength by using household objects like a milk jug, laundry detergent, canned foods, etc. as a substitute for weights if you do not own a pair of dumbbells. Additionally, mini-bands or larger bands can be used with or without dumbbells for resistance. Again, there is a wealth of exercise ideas online.

Try out a few or all of these ideas for getting in some activity and additional steps throughout your day. It will not only help your body physically but mentally as well especially during these times of isolation.

 

 

 


Sources:

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical activity guidelines for Americans.  http://www.health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/default.aspx (accessed June 4, 2013).