Staying indoors means the best possible COVID-19 outcomes for both yourself and your community, but it also comes with risks of weakening bodies, deconditioning, and let’s face it, straight boredom. So what are some of the best exercises to do indoors to combat these risks?
Yoga is great because there is such a wide range of styles to suit every need and ability.
There are loads of videos on YouTube that provide helpful introductions to every style of yoga, including the popular Yoga with Adriene series.
The best thing about yoga is that you don’t really need equipment. A yoga mat is fine, but if you don’t have one, a carpet or even a towel will do. Accessories such as straps or blocks are nice, but not necessary. You can use an old pair of leggings to substitute for a strap, or a roll of paper towels to substitute for a block. Your imagination is the limit.
Like yoga, it is possible to engage in Pilates movements without shelling out the big bucks for special equipment (or for access to a special studio with special equipment). The classic fitness writings of Joseph Pilates are available here on Amazon in his book “Return to Life Through Contrology”.
If you want guidance while you’re dancing, YouTube is a great source of instructional fitness videos. Or you can look to standalone online dance classes through programs such as Steezy. But all you really need is a music player, from Spotify to the radio, and the will and energy to get shimmying.
Barre focuses on strengthening your core muscles, raising your cardiovascular endurance, and boosting your balance. For a barre workout, you can use a dining chair or counter for support, but you can also simply try the moves and balance on your own. If you need to use small hand weights, either do without the weights or use books or canned goods instead. Search ‘barre workouts’ on YouTube for more barre workouts than you can shake a stick at.
High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT) is usually used at the gym but can also be used while at home. You basically want to cram as much hard and fast exercise into a short amount of time as possible. For example, you could do as many jumping jacks as possible within 60 seconds, then take a 30 second break, then do as many crunches or squats as possible within the next 60 seconds. You can search HIIT workouts on YouTube or you can simply create your own with pushups, squats, and other exercises.
Another place to find curated HIIT workouts is the Aaptive app, which starts at less than $10 a month for over 2,500 workouts.
Try the official Tae Bo Youtube channel for some kickboxing-inspired routines. The workouts are fast-paced and will get the blood flowing, and all you need is some space. Some programs call for a punching bag and a mat, but you can also just skip those and do the exercises in place.
- Planking: Rest on your elbows and toes, keeping your back and legs straight. Hold for one minute. If you’re just getting started, you can try a plank with your knees bent and on the floor rather than with your legs straight. Some people find it easier to bend at the elbows and rest their forearms flat on the floor rather than do a plank with their arms straight and hands on the floor.
- Side plank: This involves lying on your side with your feet stacked on top of each other and pushing yourself off of the floor with one arm to support your body. Elevate your hips and keep your body in a straight line with your front facing out. Hold the pose as long as possible, then switch sides.
- Sit-ups: Aim for 20 to start, then work your way up to 50. To make it easier, tuck your feet under a chair or table for assistance.
- Crunches: This exercise isolates smaller, deeper abdominal muscles. Aim for three sets of 20.
- Bicycles: Lie on your back feet in the air, knees bent. Place your hands behind your head. Begin pumping your legs in the classic bicycle motion, vigorously, for one minute.
- Jumping Jacks: This is a great cardio exercise for getting your heart rate up. Make sure to raise your hands over your head each time, and keep the cardio going for at least one minute.
- Squats: With your back straight and feet slightly turned out, drop your seat to knee height. Do two sets of 10.
- Lunges: Start standing with your feet parallel. Take a big step forward with your right leg, landing with your knee bent and over your toes. Allow your back knee to drop down toward the floor while swinging your left arm forward for balance. Push off your right front foot to return to standing. Do two sets of 10 on each side.
- Squat Jumps: Bend your knees as if about to squat, tucking your arms like a downhill skier. Jump off the floor and straighten your legs in the air, before landing in a squat once again. Do two sets of 10.
- Bridges: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet close to your butt. Push through your heels as you raise your hips to create a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Repeat 10 times.
- High Knees: Jog in place for one minute, lifting each knee as high as you can.
- Bavarian Split Squats: While this sounds like a lot, it’s just a regular squat with one leg resting on a chair seat or low table behind you. Focus on keeping your weight over your forward leg, and don’t let your knee bend further than your toes. Two sets of 10 on each side.
- Dips: Sit in a sturdy chair, hands holding the front edge of the seat. Push your butt forward until it is suspended in front of the seat and your weight is being supported by your arms. Bend elbows and drop your hips toward the floor. Straighten. Do two sets of 10 dips.
- Calf Raises: Face a wall and place your palms against it for balance and support. Rise up onto your toes and back down. Repeat 20 times.
- Deadlifts: You’ll need a heavy, low-to-the-ground object for this, such as two gallon-size jugs of water, dumbbells, or a duffel bag filled with shoes. Start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, back straight, knees slightly bent. Keeping your back straight, reach down and grab hold of the weighted object on the floor in front of you. Return to vertical position. Lower down; raise back up. Do 20 times.
With this arsenal of at-home exercises to do (and keywords to search YouTube for), you should be able to beat the quarantine boredom and have fun doing so. Remember, according to the CDC, regular physical activity will help you:
- Control your weight
- Reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome
- Reduce your risk of some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve your mental health and mood
- Improve your ability to do daily activities and prevent falls, if you’re an older adult
- Increase your chances of living longer
So use these tips and make sure to stay active, even at home.