Home Exercise While Social Distancing: Great Ways to Stay Active
For the last few months, people all over the world have learned to adjust to “a new normal’. This includes doing things like working from home, seeing friends and family less than usual, and going to fewer places. Another change? Many gyms and fitness centers have closed temporarily, meaning that people need to get their exercises in other ways. Home exercise is becoming much more popular, but are there exercises that are “better” than others?
Luckily for the people asking, there are plenty of options for home exercise while social distancing.
Who benefits from home exercise?
Even though children are not typically the ones utilizing gym equipment, consider them when it comes to home exercises. Many children have been home from school since mid to late March. It’s not a stretch to think that their physical fitness routines have been disrupted, too. When contemplating home exercises to keep the body fit, including activities suitable for people of all ages is important.
Home exercise shouldn’t be complicated, either. There are many exercises that can be done without utilizing any additional equipment. Many of these don’t need much space to complete them, either. They include:
- Daily stretching exercises
- Breathing exercises
- Playing with pets or children (or children playing with adults)
- Taking a few laps around the home or the apartment every hour or so – including stairs
- Exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and lunges
Keeping active – even in small ways – is important for people at all times. This is especially true when they have few other options for exercise.
With the weather changing, most people would be looking forward to programs like summer camps, vacations, outdoor activities with friends and family. Warm weather also means the ability to participate in races, swimming, and other forms of exercise. But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life for millions of people.
At home, exercise may require some equipment
While there are plenty of options for people that don’t want to use tools or other objects to exercise, the addition of these items can open up many more possibilities. Many gyms, physical therapy centers, and personal trainers are offering the ability for people to participate in “at home workouts” at least once a week. Along with this, they are providing guided training online. This is especially useful for those just starting to work out, as seeing the exercises modeled helps.
Sure, this means that you’ll need to have a device like a computer, smart TV, or phone that can connect to the Internet. But one major benefit of this? You’re working out alone – but it won’t feel like it. This CNBC article lists five options for these types of workouts, giving those at home options for fitness. Home exercises provide the benefits of physical activity without expecting people to actually go out in public.
Guided classes and fitness routines led by healthcare professionals and experienced trainers aren’t the only options available.
The programs mentioned above only focus on getting people moving – and getting them outdoors on a sidewalk or in the yard for some fresh air. But what happens when people add in exercise equipment into the mix? The following options will require the use of additional tools, but the exercises themselves are quite simple. Even better? They appeal to people of all ages and ability levels.
Yoga: The art of yoga is meant to help people relax and learn their bodies, but some people are intimidated by it. This doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be the case. There are yoga exercises that are ideal for people of all experience levels. Meant to calm the mind and strengthen the body, these exercises can be learned from instructors virtually and then practiced independently. A yoga mat is necessary to ensure safety and comfort. Aside from that, you won’t need anything else to complete this type of exercise. Yoga is used as one of many core exercises. Your core one of the most important muscle groups within the body.
Jump rope: This activity is one that requires some open space, a solid pair of shoes, and a jump rope. While many consider this an activity for children, it’s one that is fun, involving, and can get your heart pumping in a very short amount of time. A jump rope can be used indoors or outdoors. This makes it the ideal choice for a high intensity at-home workout, no matter where you are. Another option? Turn it into a game and make it fun for children.
Lifting weights: Not everyone has a set of weights in their home, but those that have completed physical therapy programs with experienced therapists can attest to the importance of building strength over time. Even light (between 2 – 10 pounds) weights or cans of food/milk jugs filled with water as substitutes, can make a difference for people. It’s easy to hide small weight sets, even in apartments.
Resistance training: One of the simplest (and cheapest) additions to home exercise routines is resistance bands. These are available in different sizes, lengths, and types. Some are used alone, others can be attached to hooks or blocks. These are used against doors, walls, or floors. This workout promotes not only strength training but also tones the entire body.
Virtual competitions: Make working out fun and competitive at the same time. Get a group of friends together online and schedule a weekly athletic challenge. Ideas include:
- A wall sit hold challenge
- Having a push-up challenge
- a plank challenge.
Switch it up each week and train to win. Working out is always better with a friendly competition to look forward to.
Learn a new skill: Have you always wanted to learn a headstand, a handstand, or how to hacky sack? This is the time to pick up a new skill and surprise your friends. Look online and find a “how-to” video. Learning a new skill will give you a goal to work towards while keeping you off the couch – and entertained. This is also a great time to begin participating in a new solo sport like running, riding a bike or lifting weights.
Be careful, though.
Though great for home exercise and recommended by doctors and physical therapy professionals, there is some danger with starting a new sport or activity. Injuries like hip pain, lower back pain, pelvic floor disorders, and even sprains and strains can happen. Know the warning signs to look for, and listen to your body. Commonly injured areas include hip flexors, ankles, knees, and neck.
Get started with home workouts – but don’t overdo it!
Even though you may not be able to clear all of your exercise goals and ideas with a healthcare professional before you begin them, it’s important to speak with a medical professional before making changes.
This is especially true for people limited to certain types of movement – like those incorporating pregnancy exercises into their routine. It also impacts those with health issues that they previously sought treatment for. Since many people aren’t going to their doctor’s offices to seek treatment or advice, finding another option – especially now – is necessary.
Telehealth has become more useful and accepted as a form of treatment and care for patients. Unfortunately, not everyone is familiar with it.
The BetterTelehealth platform is useful for those that are under the care of a physical therapist. While it cannot replace every therapy session, it’s an ideal solution for people that want to ensure that they don’t skip out on sessions. It also helps people to not jeopardize progress just because they cannot make it to a therapist’s office. This service is also useful for patients that have questions for their physicians, or just want to be sure that they can safely add something – even short and simple – into their daily exercise routine.
No matter what the exercises are that you’re thinking about beginning, you need to realize that you will have to start somewhere.
This type of home exercise is no different than training in a gym or with your friends. You need to build up strength and endurance, not just expect that you will be able to run miles or do 100 push-ups the first day you attempt to. Regular exercise improves not only overall health, but exercise efficiency leads to efficiency in other areas of life, too.
The need to self-quarantine and social distance might be letting up in many areas in the United States, but that doesn’t mean that things are going to go back to normal immediately. Some important things to remember:
Working out at home will reduce crowds at gyms and in public parks. Though it’s perfectly fine to get outdoors and exercise, being in close proximity to many other people should still be limited.
Getting comfortable exercising at home can make people more confident. When you finally return to your gym or fitness classes – or even to your in-person physical therapy sessions – you’ll likely have made progress toward your goals. Building strength and stamina is important in making people feel good about themselves. This applies to solo sports as well as team sports.
Progress is progress, and working toward better health is the focus of exercise. Many physical activities focus on bodily strength, but the truth is that mental health is just as important to consider. Exercise can (and often does!) improve a person’s mood. Consistent exercises can “shake up” the everyday routine. This is true even when people can’t leave their homes or interact with others as often as they would like. The weather may be nice now, but there are plenty of cold-weather sports that you need to prepare for, too. Allowing physical fitness to slide because of being “locked down” won’t help the next time you want to grab those skis or that snowboard.
If you’re unsure where to begin your journey toward creating a home exercise routine, consider reaching out to professionals.
The BetterPT clinic location tool will put you into contact with a network of physical therapy providers in your area that can get you on the right track. In addition, there’s a BetterPT app that will give you the same tools – but in the palm of your hand. Another option? Consider using Telehealth services through the BetterTelehealth platform. This allows you to seek out physical therapy from home instead of scheduling an in-person appointment.
No matter what you choose, you can feel confident that the recommendations and advice you get will point you in the right direction. Working out at home is beneficial to overall health – but only if you do it properly …and safely.