Working out at home

The other day my cousin mentioned how hard it had been for him to stay active since his gym had shut down due to COVID-19. I was surprised to learn that he, a former athlete, had no equipment at home and had been entirely dependent on going to the gym to get his exercise. It was then that I realized he is probably not alone and many people may be feeling a bit lose right now about how to maintain fitness and physical activity.

It’s important to realize we don’t need a gym, or any equipment, to stay active. Exercise does not have to resemble anything you would even do at a gym! I’ll outline ways to stay active without a gym or any gym equipment and explain how exercise does not always have to be the structured type of exercise we typically think about. Additionally, I will provide some tips and tricks for finding motivation to fit in some daily activity.

First let’s look at more traditional options of exercise we can engage in that don’t require any equipment.

  1. Go for a walk or run outside, maintaining proper social distancing of course. The bonus to this is you also get some fresh air and exposure to natural light which helps enhance mood and energy levels, improves sleep and sleep quality, and gives your body a boost of natural Vitamin D (which most of us here in Seattle are likely deficient of by this time of year due to our dark winter months).
  2. Find some online workout videos to do or download a free workout app. During the pandemic, even many subscription-based apps are being offered for free.
    • is a great site that has a wide variety of free workout videos.
    • Search YouTube for free exercise videos. I recommend using specific search terms like: 15 minute ab workout, HIIT training for beginners, advanced yoga workout, etc.
    • The 7 Minute Workout: Fitness Appis one of my favorite fitness apps because workouts are as short as seven minutes.
    • Check out for workouts and 30-day challenges as well.

Now for some less traditional exercise options:

  1. What yard work needs done? Does your lawn need mowing? Flower bed need weeding? Yard work is a great form of physical activity yet few of us actually count it as exercise.
  2. Turn on your favorite music and simply dance around your living room. If you have kids at home, they can do this too!
  3. Speaking of kids, find active games to play with your kids. Examples: tag, hide and go seek, Twister, Charades, etc… or use this fun workout idea.
    Exercise Game

Finally, even if you’ve been a regular gym goer, you might find it more difficult to stay motivated right now with all the changes in daily routines. Create a new, but similar, routine. If you normally got in your exercise/workout after getting the kids off to school, get your kids set up for the first 30-minutes of school work at home, and then take your walk, do your workout video, etc. If you normally went to the gym after work but now your gym is closed, schedule your workout at the end of your work day and before switching gears to family time. Not only will this help you maintain the same routine you had, but it also gives you a way to make a transition from work-mode mindset to family-mode mindset.

  1. Schedule your exercise just like you would anything else. Put it on your calendar! Studies show that people who schedule it and put it on their calendar as to-do item are more likely to follow through.
  2. Use the 5-minute rule –When you feel you’re really fighting with yourself to go for that walk or do that workout video, tell yourself “I am just going to get started and if after 5 minutes I still really don’t want to do it, I can stop.” Getting started is often the hardest part, but once we get going, we feel better and we keep going. But having the 5-minute rule in place gives us an ‘out’ if we need it.
  3. Plan your exercise as a break from work. When working from home, it can be more challenging to allow ourselves the breaks we might otherwise take when we were in the office.
  4. Break it up into shorter segments spread throughout the day. Believe it or not, three 10-minute exercise breaks are just as good as one 30-minute one. So if it is easier for you to break it up into smaller segments spread out over the course of the day, that’s great!
  5. Get it done first thing in the morning. Yes, this can be a tough one, but getting it done first thing in the morning means no excuses later in the day. Studies show that people who accomplish a task first thing in the morning tend to be more positive-minded and more productive during the rest of their day.
  6. Sign up for a 5k or other fitness event for later in the year so you have something fun to look forward to.

Our daily lives have been turned upside down and none of us really know what to expect in the coming weeks.Life feels somewhat out of our control at the moment. In times like this, focusing on what we can control goes a long way in helping us manage stress and anxiety. One thing we have daily control over are is self-care, and exercise is part of it. So, as hard as it might be right nowI promise you will feel better when you are more active. Plus, being active helps promote a strong, healthy immune system that may help prevent you from getting sick.

April 27, 2020 | by Jasmine Miller MS, CN