On normal days, you might head to the gym, the park or a local bike trail when you need a dose of physical activity. But that’s not always possible.
Whether you’re stuck inside during bad weather, a viral pandemic or your particular season of life, some days — or weeks — will require creativity when it comes to exercise.
Staying active can help keep you fit and help you cope with the exhaustion and frustration of being homebound. Need some ideas to get moving? Check out these tips for staying active while you stay home.
Family Dance Party
Nothing beats the stuck-inside blues like lively music and dancing. Slide your furniture to the edges of your living room or whatever open space you have, crank up some tunes and start cutting a rug. The more you shake and groove, the more calories you’ll burn.
Being at home means you don’t have to worry about looking silly. And don’t forget to recruit the whole family, especially little ones. Children will enjoy the wiggle-fest, and you may find it easier to cut loose if you feel like you’re in it for the kids.
Fitness is more fun when you make a game of it.
- Gather two dice.
- If you have different-colored dice, use those. If not, color at least one side of one white die to mark the difference.
- Next, pick out six different exercise activities and assign each a number from 1 to 6. Ideas include things like jumping jacks, burpees, crunches and toe touches.
- Roll both dice, one at a time. The first number tells you which activity to do. The second number tells you how many times you need to repeat it.
Do this game for 15 to 20 minutes. If you don’t have that much time at once, do 5 to 10 minutes a couple times throughout the day. And to kick your routine up a notch, multiply the value of the second die by 2, 5 or even 10 depending on your fitness level.
This is an easy activity to modify based on what you can do — or learn to do. It can also be kid-friendly if you pick the right activities.
Burning calories while you clean not only help you stay active but also help you keep up with daily chores (even if you don’t feel like it). And household tasks that require plenty of leg work or arm movement make even better calorie-burners.
Half an hour of sweeping burns around 136 calories, or you could work off 119 calories with half an hour of vacuuming. Big jobs like washing windows, scrubbing the floor on your hands and knees, and painting walls offer an even better workout.
As you tidy up, try taking more trips with less stuff in your arms instead of loading your arms with as much as you can carry. You’ll move more. And if you have stairs, use those to your advantage by taking frequent trips up and down as you clean.
Your favorite squashy armchair might be calling your name when you’re at home, but don’t let it tempt you into an all-day lounge fest. Get up and move from time to time.
Studies suggest that you should make yourself walk around once every 30 minutes. Set a timer on your phone or smart speaker. When it goes off, go look out the window, refill your water bottle or check on a family member — anything to get you up and moving.
While you’re bingeing your shows or even working, build small breaks into your routine so you can get up and stretch. Hop up for a quick round of squats, lunges or sit-ups. Challenge yourself to hold a planking position for the length of the credits (or intro) of your show.
Consider adjusting how you approach desk work, too. Try placing your laptop on the kitchen counter so you can stand while you’re working. Standing burns a few more calories per hour than sitting, and this position may also alleviate back pain. When sitting, try replacing your standard desk chair with an exercise ball. Saying balanced requires you to engage your abs.
Sometimes, it takes a little bit of friendly competition to get you and your family moving. Whether you organize a full day of games or engage in spur-of-the-moment challenges, racing against your family members will get your blood pumping. A few ideas for indoor family games (little to no equipment required):
- See who can crab walk or bear crawl from one side of the living room to the other first.
- Try holding the longest handstand or wall sit.
- Volley a balloon back and forth across a string.
- Count how many times you can toss a pair of balled-up socks into a clean trash can.
Missing your weekly fitness class? Recreate that experience in your own home. Whether you prefer walking, weightlifting or HIIT routines, virtual classes make it easy to keep up with your routine even when you’re homebound.
You’ll find many free and low-cost fitness programs online. You can watch pre-recorded videos or log in for live sessions. This season of exercising at home can be a great opportunity to try out new-to-you fitness activities — you might discover a new favorite.
For those who don’t have the option of streaming, look into DVD rentals from your local library or a DVD swap with neighbors or friends.
Home Gym Experience
You may not have room in your home for a treadmill or a weight bench, but you can still incorporate exercise equipment into your at-home workouts. A yoga mat makes a good starter piece that will enhance many of your activities, especially if you’re using fitness videos.
Think about items that you can easily stash out of the way when not in use. A hula hoop will slide between the couch and the wall. A coiled jump rope can be tucked into a drawer. Small dumbbells may fit under a chair or the TV stand. If you have a bit more space, consider a set of kettlebells or a doorframe pull-up bar.
Staying at home may require changing up your fitness routines. But with a bit of creativity, you can keep up your health and strength even when you can’t leave your house.