Working out during quarantine isn’t just about making sure you balance out all that time on the sofa binging “Tiger King.”
It’s also about keeping your mind sharp and lowering your stress, says Dr. Mark Snoddy, an orthopedist at Augusta University Health.
“People are mentally stressed about what’s going on,” he said. “Like the fact that we’re not able to leave our homes for normal activities or have to stay away from friends and family. It’s mentally hard, and exercise is a normal thing we can do to forget for a few minutes that we’re quarantined.”
Don’t Think You Have Time?
We get it: Home has way too many distractions, especially when everyone’s at the house. And switching up your routine from your usual gym workout is tough. But working out—whether you’re on lockdown or not—should be a must-do on your to-do list.
“The biggest thing is that mental reset,” said Snoddy. “If you can work out every day, you’ll feel less stress, you’ll sleep better at night. It’s as much about that mental reset and keeping mentally sharp as it is about the physical.”
Think of it this way: Working out is “me” time, when you can have a break from work or the kids, maybe listen to that audio book or that podcast you’ve been wanting to try, and get in some physical activity too. Aim for just 30 minutes every day (or even five if that’s what you’ve got to work with). Pick something you like to do, but try to change it up every so often, Snoddy says, since varying your exercise challenges different muscles, which is good for your body.
“Most importantly, try to find the same time to work out every day, if you can,” he said. “For me, it’s in the morning before my family gets up. Finding that time that’s the same time every day—that’s the starting point for your workout.”
Check These Out
Most of us have probably seen Jimmy Fallon’s at-home “Tonight Show” vignettes (filmed by his wife, Nancy) or watched concerts featuring some of our favorite artists by their pool, on their porch or in their basements. These days, there are plenty of free online resources for workouts, too. “It’s a good time to use the social devices we have to work out and make it more fun,” said Snoddy.
- Many studios are now offering workouts via Facebook Live, and the videos are archived on their Facebook pages.
- Some instructors are inviting members to join them via Zoom workouts for a more interactive experience.
- YouTube offers a number of free workout videos. Just search for your keyword of choice, from yoga and barre to Body Combat and crossfit.
- Apps like FitBit help you stay motivated by connecting you to other FitBit users so you can “compete” on activity levels.
Go Old School
While social distancing has its rules, outdoor exercise is one activity we can still enjoy. “We’re fortunate we’re in a time of year when it’s nice to get outside,” said Snoddy.
So go on long walks or runs in your neighborhood. If you have children, make it extra challenging by adding in the weight of pushing a stroller or strapping on a baby carrier.
With older kids, you can make workouts play double duty as family time. Make up some games like relay races or a timed scavenger hunt that the whole family can join in, says Snoddy. Or, set up a crossfit routine in your driveway, including jumping jacks, pushups, squats, burpees, even an improvised box jump.
“For outdoor workouts, it’s also about doing it smartly in this time,” said Snoddy. “People may think they can still play tennis for example since they’re 30 feet away from another person. Or they think they can play pickleball or do pull-up bars at a park or throw around a baseball. They think it’s just fine and great since they’re maintaining social distance. But you’re all touching the same equipment. So going outside to work out is fine—just consider what you’re touching.”
A final note: If you have a lot of time on your hands right now and decide you’re going to go all-in on working out, be careful.
“If you’re new to working out, take the time to stretch and warm up. The last thing you want to do is to pull a muscle, then be stuck doing nothing or worse, have to go see your doctor or go to the hospital,” Snoddy said.
So loosen up, get the blood flowing, and start out slow, maybe with some easy walking. “For all of us, the biggest keys are to exercise smartly, and once you come up with a good routine, don’t jump on it too hard,” Snoddy said. “And always follow the social distancing guidelines.”