Exercise at Home: Staying Physically Active During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Anticancer Lifestyle Team

“A season of loneliness and isolation is when the caterpillar gets its wings. Remember that next time you feel alone.” – Mandy Hale

This time of social distancing, and what can feel like captivity in your home, has a silver lining. 

It can serve as an opportunity for pause, to recognize what serves you and what does not, and give you some time to restructure for a better tomorrow. 

When so many are working from home or just sheltering in place, the path of least resistance may be the couch, surfing the Internet, or binge-watching that show (you know which one!). Perhaps that works for you right now—and that is okay!

However, there are health risks associated with prolonged sedentary time, and real benefits to physical activity. Regardless of age, regular physical activity is a vital part of staying healthy. Studies consistently find that a higher level of total physical activity, at any intensity, and less time spent sedentary, is associated with substantially reduced risk for premature mortality.

Moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with better immune function. In particular, it helps improve immune response to respiratory viral illnesses, which is clearly relevant to staying healthy during the coronavirus pandemic. Also, critical during this time is the reduction in stress and anxiety that results from physical activity.  

Even with all these clear benefits, most of us need strategies to stay active. 

The American College of Sports Medicine lists these few easy strategies for starting or maintaining a fitness program:

Indoor Activities: 

  • Put some music on and walk briskly around the house or up and down the stairs for 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times per day.
  • Dance to your favorite music.
  • Jump rope (if your joints can handle it). 
  • Do an exercise video.
  • Use home cardio machines if you have them.

Outdoor Activities (if permitted locally):

  • Walk or jog around your neighborhood. Stay 6 feet away from others.
  • Be active in a local park. Spending time in nature may enhance immune function. Wash your hands when you get home.
  • Go for a bicycle ride. 
  • Do gardening and lawn work (Spring is around the corner!). 
  • Play active games with your family. 

And don’t forget strength training!

  • Download a strength workout app to your smartphone, such as the 7-Minute Workout (no equipment necessary).
  • Do a strength training video.
  • Perform yoga – deep breathing and mindfulness can also reduce anxiety.
  • Find ways to do simple muscle strengthening exercises around your house such as:
    • Squats or sit-to-stands from a sturdy chair
    • Push-ups against a wall, the kitchen counter or the floor
    • Lunges or single leg step-ups on stairs

For the full list, click here. Try picking one thing to get started!  Once you see how good it feels, you’ll want to try more. If you need access to free videos to help you get started, check out our Anticancer Lifestyle Fitness Videos.  

Taking care of our bodies and spirits is the best way to get through this difficult time.  You can use this time as a great opportunity to launch new healthy habits that will endure long after this crisis has passed. Move your body and be well!

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