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Exercise is More Important Than Ever Right Now. Here’s Why.

Exercise improves your physical health, mental health, immune system, sleep quality and energy levels all in one! As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritizing physical activity is more important than ever.

Exercise Pays Off in the Long Run

Whether you have more free time, or your schedule has only become more chaotic, exercise is essential to maintaining your well-being. The time you spend exercising pays off long after your workout. So, you’ll find that the time investment is well worth it. There are numerous ways you can fit more physical activity into your schedule.

You don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits, even just a moderate amount of exercise can make a big difference. Then you can aim to become more physically active over time to meet the guidelines.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week for substantial health benefits. This breaks down to about 30 minutes, 5 days a week. But any effort to move more and sit less can improve health.

You don’t need a gym membership to stay active. In fact, exercising at home is more convenient, making it easier to stay consistent. Home exercise is also free and less of a time commitment because you don’t have to drive there.

5 Practical Tips for Exercising at Home

#1 – Schedule physical activity into your day.

Try to schedule physical activities into your day just like you would schedule a meeting or an appointment. To make it easier to establish a routine, schedule physical activity at same time(s) each day if possible. For example, commit to a 10-15 minute walk after dinner rather than just trying to fit that walk in at some point in your day.

#2 – Start small and make it fun!

If you aren’t typically active, start with a lower intensity or a shorter workout. Then gradually increase the duration and difficulty. It’s also important to make it fun so you’ll follow through.

Walk with your dog, your partner or your kids. If you walk on your own, make it more enjoyable by listening to your favorite music playlist, an interesting podcast episode, or a new audio book. Some other family friendly physical activities you can do while social distancing include tossing a frisbee, playing hopscotch, jumping rope, playing catch, dancing and many more.

#3 – Recruit a family member, video chat or join a virtual class.

Exercising with someone else, even virtually, can be more enjoyable than doing it alone. When someone else is involved with your workouts, they can help keep you accountable, motivated and even encourage you to bump up the intensity.

#4 – Remove barriers and create visual cues in your home to stay on track.

Make it easy to move more and use visual cues that act as reminders to move. Examples, include:

Lay your exercise mat out in your bedroom before you go to bed.

  • When you wake up your mat will be a reminder to do a quick workout or yoga practice in the morning before starting your day.
  • Bookmark a few workout videos on your phone or use an app so you are ready to go whenever it’s time to exercise.

Keep your sneakers and dog leash (if applicable) by the door.

  • This will remind you to go for a walk each day.

Place a sticky note on your TV or remote controller with 3 exercises written on it.

  • Every time a commercial comes on, you’ll be reminded to do those exercises.

Take it a step further and create a challenge for yourself!

  • Every time you walk through the doorway, do 10 jumping jacks or a 30 second stretch.
  • Every time you’re near a counter surface, do 15 incline push ups.
  • And every time you sit down, do 15 squats before finally sitting at rest.

#5 – Keep it simple and use what you have available.

  • You don’t need fancy equipment (or any at all) to exercise at home.

Exercise Equipment for Working Out at Home

Basic home exercise equipment may include:

  • An exercise or yoga mat
  • Resistance bands and/or dumbbells
  • Comfortable sneakers

No equipment? No problem.

There are endless body weight exercises to choose from for strength, cardio, core, flexibility, and more.

If you’re not sure where to start, check if your gym is offering virtual classes. Or try some of the YouTube channels I’ve listed below.

Bonus Tip! You can even use basic household items as weights. Just look in your pantry.

Household Weights You Can Choose From

There are likely a variety of “weights” you can choose from:

  • Pantry items that weigh 1-2 lbs:
    • 16 oz canned goods
    • 32 oz cartons of soup or broth
  • Pantry items that weigh about 3 lbs:
    • 750 ml bottle of wine
    • 40 oz jar of peanut butter
  • Pantry items that weigh 4-5 lbs:
    • 64 oz bag of rice or dry beans
    • 5 lb bag of flour
  • Pantry items that weigh 8-10 lbs:
    • 1 gal jug of milk, water or juice
    • 150 oz jug of laundry detergent

Find Balance Between Physical Activity & Sedentary Time

Remember to find balance between physical activity and the time you spend sedentary. The average person is sedentary for up to 12 hours everyday, which is linked with negative health consequences. Especially now that we are spending more time at home, we may be sitting even more than usual.

Be mindful about the amount of time you spend seated or lying down. Set a timer or use apps like “Move” or “Stand up!” to remind you to move every hour or so.

About Tori Price, ACSM-EP

Tori Price is a certified Exercise Physiologist who graduated from James Madison University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Assessment and Promotion. Tori has six years of experience in the health and fitness industry, working with a wide range of populations. As a Health Behavior Change and Weight Management Specialist, she is truly passionate about empowering people to take small steps to improve their well-being.