Right now, you are probably focused on staying healthy by washing your hands and keeping your distance from other people, especially if they are sick. But there is more you can and should do, including being active every day. Regular exercise, along with good nutrition and getting enough sleep, can strengthen your immune system, reduce stress, and help you stay fit.
Now that most people are spending more time at home and almost all gyms and other fitness facilities are closed, your exercise routine has likely been disrupted. The good news is, you can still get a good workout at home.
Almost any exercise you would do at the gym can be done at home in some form, most without any equipment. Body weight exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and squats are effective for improving strength and require no equipment. Even holding a simple plank position is a surprisingly effective exercise to strengthen your core. You can also do a variety of stretching exercises without any equipment at all. If you add a couple of basic items like a pull-up bar and a sturdy chair or bench you can do tricep dips, step-ups, and pull-ups.
Body weight exercises like these are a great way to improve mobility, the ability to move easily and safely through a combination of strength, flexibility, and motor control. Focusing on mobility can preserve the capacity to do basic activities of daily living, which becomes especially important as we age. Something as simple as sitting in a chair and rising from a seated position becomes challenging for many older adults. This movement is essentially a squat, a basic functional exercise. Climbing stairs, another challenge, involves strength, coordination, and balance, all of which can be improved through simple body weight exercises.
If you add a set of dumbbells or elastic bands you can do most of the basic resistance exercises you could do at a gym. Elastic resistance bands, in particular, are an inexpensive and convenient way to “lift weights” at home and may be worth purchasing. Most sets that include weights or elastic bands also contain instructions for safe and effective training and there are many apps and online videos that demonstrate exercises.
You may already have some exercise equipment at home. If you have a treadmill, stationary cycle, or elliptical trainer, you can do the same cardio exercise you would do at the gym in your home. If not, you can get aerobic exercise by going for a brisk walk, jogging, or cycling outdoors. Exercise, especially when done outdoors, has additional benefits of reducing stress, improving focus, and promoting feelings of wellbeing.
If you aren’t sure what to do, mobile apps and videos of home training programs can be helpful. However, make sure you pick something that is appropriate for your fitness level. This is especially important if you are in a supervised exercise program like physical therapy or cardiac rehabilitation. Check with your doctor, therapist, or exercise physiologist about an appropriate home exercise program. If you use a personal trainer, he or she may be offering virtual training and they certainly would appreciate your continued business. Your gym may also post workouts you can do from home, including alternatives to group exercise classes.
The bottom line is that you can still get a good workout from home. The fitness, health, and stress reductions benefits of exercise make it worth the effort, especially now. What you do isn’t nearly as important as making the time for you, and your family, to be active every day!