Stuck at Home: An Exercise Guide

March 27, 2020 - Katie McCallum

The new coronavirus causing COVID-19 will remain among us for some time, and this means continued social distancing and staying home more than we'd probably like.

And while staying home is nice, spending so much time at home comes with challenges — such as keeping up with an exercise plan.

Physical activity can help boost both your immune system and your mental health. Plus, the American Heart Association recommends getting 20 minutes of activity in every day. But, with gyms closed and group exercise classes canceled, you may be struggling to figure out this whole exercising-at-home thing.

Dawn Stuckey and Kristin Salinas, athletic trainers at Houston Methodist, recommend the following tips for staying active when you're stuck at home.

Try online workouts

Between video platforms, fitness apps and social media, there are tons of workouts you can find online these days.

Whether you're looking for yoga, pilates, resistance training or dance-style cardio, fitness studios and personal trainers offer a variety of free, online workouts. And with so many choices, it's easy to find one that fits your fitness level and schedule.

In addition, many premium workout apps and platforms, such as Nike Training Club and Peloton, are offering free online workout classes right now — either for the next several months or the foreseeable future.

Try body weight exercises

Looking to build or maintain muscle, but don't have any weights at home? Your own body weight is a great piece of equipment in itself.

Body weight exercises are a great way to burn fat, build muscle and improve your cardio fitness, flexibility and balance. Plus, body weight exercises don't require equipment or much space, and they can be modified to accommodate pretty much any fitness level.

Not sure how to get started? You can guide your own workout by combining several body weight exercises into circuits, or you can let someone else guide you through an online body weight exercise video.

Pick a time for your workout — and stick to it

Once you've decided on a few at-home workouts to try, the challenge of actually following through comes next. You had no problem stopping by the gym on your way home from work (okay, maybe you skipped a day or two here and there), but resisting the urge to move straight from your work-from-home setup to your couch is proving to be tough.

Stuckey recommends choosing a time for your workouts and staying consistent with your workout schedule. Forming and maintaining a routine is the best way to make sure you get your workouts done. Just be sure to choose a time that fits well with your schedule — such as early in the morning before the day's distractions begin.

Make your workouts social

In addition to the benefits of physical activity that you already know about, turning exercise into a social activity can help shake things up and bring the happiness you need to deal with these uncertain times.

As you spend a lot of time cooped up with family members in the coming weeks, turn up the fun factor by using exercise as a refreshing way of connecting with one another. Push your living room furniture out of the way and do an online workout together, or take the family on your afternoon dog walk.

You can also use online tools to do virtual workouts with your friends and family. Use video chat to guide your friends through your favorite yoga poses, or take turns doing your exercises so you can cheer each other on during your breaks.

Get creative with your activities

Practicing social distancing doesn't mean you can't go outside — but it does mean keeping six feet of space between yourself and those around you while outdoors. So, don't be afraid to get outside where it's easier to be creative with your workouts.

Take a bike ride, go for a run with your dog or pull those dusty roller blades out of the depths of your closet.

If walking is more your speed, arrange a scavenger hunt around your neighborhood for your family or friends. You can also consider walking to pick up groceries instead of driving — if your local grocery store is within a few miles from your home.

Set goals for yourself

You may be new to setting and guiding your own workouts. Or, you may be new to working out entirely — using exercise as a way to take control of your life during the uncertainty of the coronavirus outbreak. Regardless, setting goals can help you get active and stay active.

If you're just starting at-home workouts and are intimidated by this new, uncharted territory, you're not alone. Fitness classes, treadmills and other exercise or weight machines do a good job of controlling your workouts for you — but, at home, it's up you.

Begin by making your workout goals small and attainable. If you're guiding your own workouts, Salinas recommends having a plan and writing it down so you don't have to think of exercises mid-workout — interrupting your focus. Plus, keeping track of your workouts makes it easy to increase the difficulty when you're ready, as well as decrease the difficulty if needed.

If you're just starting out with exercising, try walking for 15 minutes a day, increasing the time by 10 to 15 minutes every few days. Keep in mind, exercise should be challenging, but not so strenuous to the point of overdoing it. Listen to your body and adjust your workouts as needed.

Don't skip the basics: hydrate, warm up and stretch

No matter what type of exercise you choose, remember to hydrate before and after, warm up before and stretch after every workout. Start by making sure you know how much water you need on a daily basis, and then increase the amount of water you're drinking as you exercise. And while stretching may be boring, it's important. Stretching helps keep your muscles strong and flexible — preventing tightness and injury.


Concerned you may have COVID-19?

  • If you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a Virtual Urgent Care provider 24/7. The provider will help you determine if testing is needed and advise you on where you should go.


This article was updated on June 22, 2020 to reflect the current state of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Categories: Tips to Live By
Tags: Coronavirus, Exercise