You have been working out for months, hitting the gym consistently and making real progress with your fitness goals, and then Coronavirus (COVID-19) hits, the gyms close, and you are stuck at home worried that all your hard work is going to go to waste. Maybe you have not been exercising at all because the job, the kids, or just life was taking up most of your time and you could not figure out how to fit exercise into your hectic schedule. Exercise can also be an incredibly effective tool to manage your anxiety during this uncertain time. Now with some extra free time, you want to start building healthy habits, one of which includes exercise. Some people love working out from home, while others find it very challenging and do not know where to start. Here are some tips for those that are struggling to stay active during the shelter-in-place order.
Start with Something Fun
Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to start exercising. Try to focus on the types of exercise you enjoy. If you do not like it, then do not do it. Building and maintaining habits are a lot easier when doing something we enjoy.
Try Something New
Maybe you cannot do the exercises you enjoy anymore because of a lack of equipment, lack of space, or some other reason. Try developing a new exercise goal or trying a new method of exercise. No more heavy lifting at the gym? Challenge yourself to do one more pushup, squat, or crunch in a row each day to build endurance. Try out a free yoga or Pilates video on youtube for the first time.
If starting a new exercise routine feels overwhelming. Start by setting a small, achievable fitness goal like increasing your a daily step goal. If you cannot muster up the motivation to workout for an hour, that is okay. Maybe you can only push yourself to do 20 minutes, no problem. Just remember, some exercise is always better than none.
What if you are committed to exercising during this time, but not sure what to do? There are countless resources available right now: workout apps, online videos, virtual personal training sessions, and more. If none of those appeal to you, then make up your own exercise routine. Worried about not having any exercise equipment? No equipment, no problem. You can easily turn household items into weights. Add books to a book bag and wear it while doing lunges. Use water bottles as dumbbells to complete sets of curls and presses. Got a box of cat liter or a bag of dog food laying around? Hold that close to the body while doing squats. Have a small child wrap their body around your back and do pushups for an extra challenge. Use a steady chair or ottoman to complete one legged step-ups. For those of you that have limited space, body weight exercises can be used to get a full body workout in. Clear a space that is slightly longer than your height and about a foot wider than your hips and you are good to go. See how many burpees, jumping jacks, crunches, or high knees you can do in a minute or cycle through a variety of exercises with a specific number of sets and repetitions.
Get Sunshine and Fresh Air (Safely)
If you are still struggling with motivation, try going for a walk. If you are working from home, try substituting the time you would normally be commuting or using break times during the workday to get out and walk around the neighborhood. Take the dog or the kids on a walk to the park. While outside, remember to practice social distancing and wear a mask when unable to stay 6 feet or further away from others.
Still struggling with motivation? Get a workout buddy. Quarantined with family or a roommate? Use each other as support to build motivation to exercise. Living alone? Video call a friend or co-worker and workout together. Additionally, plan your workouts ahead of time, share your plans with someone, and schedule them into your week.
Staying active during this time is even more important now than it was before quarantine. Many of us have been experiencing increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, increased alcohol/food consumption, and decreased levels of overall daily activity. Exercise is not only effective in helping offset some of those extra calories, but can also help improve our mood and lower our anxiety. If you have not been exercising and are trying to start, or if you took some time off since the gyms closed and are trying to get back on track, give yourself time to get into a routine. It is important to set goals and take action, but if you find yourself having an off day or even an off week, be kind to yourself. If you continue to struggle with your exercise or health goals, seek support. Reach out to a friend, family member, or a counselor to help.
Bergen Counseling Center is currently accepting new clients via teletherapy video sessions. Your sessions may even be covered under your in-network insurance plan. Complete the contact request form below, and one of our trained and licensed therapists will reach out to you personally. We are still here to help during the coronavirus quarantine.
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