Written by Mikkie Mills
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of months, you’d know that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced millions of people to stay at home for extended periods. In which case, it might feel like you have been living under a rock!
At the same time, retail stores and other nonessential commercial facilities have been closed. Among them are countless gyms, wellness centres, and fitness businesses that are ordinarily available to help people stay fit and healthy as they go about their daily lives.
This means that the legions of fitness-conscious people that rely on those locations are having to find alternate means of staying physically active while they see out the period of time for the crisis to abate. The problem for many of them is a general lack of experience in at-home fitness routines, and in many cases, a lack of fitness equipment to use at home.
To help those of us in that unenviable position, here’s a guide on how to stay fit at home while socially distancing.
1. Release your inner yogi
One of the best and most accessible ways that people can ensure they’re staying active at home is to start practicing yoga. As a fitness measure, it's easy to learn, requires very little in the way of equipment, and is very healthy for people of all ages. As a bonus, research shows that 85% of yoga practitioners report that it helps them to relieve stress – which is an excellent added benefit under the circumstances.
To get started, all that's needed is enough space to be able to stretch your body out while lying on the floor, and enough room to extend your arms outward as far as they'll go. And although some yoga poses call for blocks and straps to perform them, there's a good chance that most people have suitable substitutes within easy reach at home. With those things prepared, have a stretch to help keep you both sane and fit while socially distancing.
2. Turn to the web
Under normal circumstances, the internet might not be the first place you think of heading to increase your heart rate, increase muscle mass, help with bone density, and shift some bodyweight. In the age of social distancing, it’s a different matter entirely.
Right now, the internet is the most valuable and accessible resource for at-home workout routines to suit any need. In fact, Netflix carries countless workout videos for subscribers to access, as does Amazon Prime Video.
There are also a variety of online fitness portals that help visitors to find the best online fitness courses to suit their particular goals. From shorter, 30-minute workouts that give your immune system a quick boost to longer exercise regimes that will really reduce the risk of health problems, the internet is your number one source for home workouts (we’re looking at you in particular, YouTube videos).
With minimal effort, you can find everything from light workout courses such as skipping rope exercise for seniors all the way up to muscle-shredding high-impact weightlifting that will turn even a beginner into a competition-ready bodybuilder (whenever they start holding those again, anyway). The takeaway is that for fitness while social distancing, the internet's your best ally.
3. Get your run on
For many, the most disruptive part of the coronavirus crisis is the fact that they're being deprived of their daily morning or evening run. Roadrunners are some of the most dedicated fitness fanatics there are, which is why you're apt to see them out pounding the pavement in all conditions – rain or shine, snow or heatwave. For them, having to stay inside is like being asked not to breathe.
The good news is, there's no regulation that says you can't get your run on from the comfort of your own home. For those with a backyard, it's as simple as laying out a short-course track and taking as many laps as necessary to replicate a normal daily run. For those with limited space, running or jogging in place can make a suitable (if less exciting) substitute for a daily run.
To get a similar workout, though, it's often necessary to carry some extra weight (stacks of books work well) and lift your knees higher on each step. The bottom line is, if you love to run to stay fit, the coronavirus can't stop you.
4. Stairway to fitness heaven
As anyone who frequents a gym can tell you, the stair climbing machines always have a line. That's because stair-climbing exercises can do wonders for your fitness. If you look around, though, there's probably a staircase right nearby that you could use for the same purpose. And when you consider that stair-climbing workouts lead to increased oxygen uptake – they're a perfect way to stay fit and remain resilient against coronavirus.
Climbing isn't all you can do with stairs, though. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are at least seven distinct exercises that you can do using a flight of stairs as your only equipment. Together, they form the makings of a comprehensive workout that can replace a variety of outdoor and gym-based routines.
By turning to the stairs, you can stay fit during social distancing with ease. The only problem is that you may never look at the people on the stair climbers at the gym the same way ever again.
5. Try out stability ball fitness
If you are fortunate enough to access some fitness equipment, one simple piece of exercise equipment that offers a tremendous amount of diversity is a stability ball. They are referred to as Swiss balls, exercise balls, yoga balls, or fitness balls, among other names.
Not only do they improve your stability, working out with one will improve your fitness. While a stability ball might not fit conveniently in one of your closets, they take up minimal space.
Nevertheless, with nothing more than a stability ball, you can work every muscle in your body. With a little creativity, you can build strength gradually, plus improve your cardio.
One nice thing about having a stability ball is that you can incorporate other small pieces of exercise equipment into the routine. There are stability ball exercises you can use to target various muscles and muscle groups.
6. Get some resistance bands
Another useful piece of exercise equipment that can be used with a stability ball is resistance bands. Resistance bands can even work as your sole source of equipment to exercise indoors.
They are also called elastic bands because they generate resistance through elasticity. Resistance bands are elastic rubber bands, often with handles on either end. There are designs that are giant elastic loops, but most attach handles at either end. The bands come in different tensile strengths and lengths.
There are short bands for more isolated movements, plus long bands that let you do all types of elongated stretching exercises. However, to get started using resistance bands to work out from home, all you need is one multipurpose band.
Resistance band workouts are also excellent alternatives for people who have joint issues. They are often incorporated into rehab programs after injuries and as arthritis-friendly workouts.
Resistance bands are a space-saving way to workout indoors.
7. Consider calisthenics
Our final method to get an indoor workout during quarantine is an old standby. Calisthenics have been around for centuries. You can train your entire body from head-to-toe using an assortment of calisthenics exercises.
The only thing you need to do a full calisthenics workout is a little space and your body. There is no need for a single piece of equipment. By blending the elements of circuit training into a calisthenics program, you can produce an excellent cardio workout as well.
Not only can you improve strength and endurance, but a full calisthenics workout can be used as a guide to weight loss. There are advanced programs for top fitness levels, plus simple beginner programs for people who are new to using calisthenics to workout.
As you can see, there's no shortage of ways to stay fit at home when socially distancing. So, by adopting one or more of them, it's possible to turn the current coronavirus lockdowns into a chance to get into the best shape of your life. It may not be the most exciting or socially-engaging way to get fit but it's the results that count – and there's no doubt that you'll love what you see in the mirror when this is all over.