Keep Moving: Exercising During Social Isolation
The Coronavirus pandemic has turned life upside down for pretty much everybody in the
world. People are dealing with elevated stress and anxiety levels due to social distancing at home, either working from home or not at all, gym closures, school closures, etc. Maintaining some type of movement at home is essential now, more than ever! This article will discuss benefits of working out at home, offer suggestions for versatile home workout equipment, and provide a free bodyweight home workout program.
Currently, everybody’s life holds high levels of uncertainty and little sense of control. Exercise is an important tool to combat negative feelings of anxiety and depression around current conditions. Not only does moving regularly improve mental health, it also boosts the immune system. COVID-19 and other illnesses are more likely to affect those with preexisting health conditions—people with weakened immune systems. Eating well and exercising are vital in supporting the fight against illness now and in the future.
Exercising at home minimizes muscle loss and supports a safe return to heavy lifting at the gym. While it may be true that you can’t get the same stimulus as heavy lifting, muscles challenged by some type of resistance stand a better chance of maintaining muscle mass. Bodyweight and banded workouts also increase blood flow to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints—an important aspect to maintaining the vitality and function of these structures. Further, much banded and bodyweight work is corrective exercise. There is a reason these types of exercises are prescribed by physical therapists and trainers during rehab! This type of exercise can improve movement quality, which will again support a healthy return to heavy lifting.
Benefits extend beyond physical and mental health. Continuing at home workouts maintains momentum around keeping a workout schedule, which is important for those who fall off when they experience breaks in their exercise routine. Sticking to an exercise routine may also help you feel a sense of accomplishment during this period of extended free time. Achieving any kind of workout can additionally serve as a semblance of the “normal” lifestyle you’re missing.
Certain pieces of exercise equipment are relatively cheap and versatile choices for at home workouts. Exercise bands of various sizes, a couple sets of dumbbells, and kettlebells are all good choices that can be used for many different exercises. Jump rope and med balls are cheap options that allow for some variety with conditioning exercises.
Home workouts don’t necessarily have to be long or complicated. A great characteristic of bodyweight or minimal equipment workouts is that they can easily be adjusted to accommodate different ability levels. Below I have written a bodyweight workout, adjusted for three different ability levels.
Directions: Exercises are provided with sets x reps. For example, perform 12 reps, 3 times through for the first exercise. Perform a+b exercises back to back, no rest (a superset). Rest 30-60 seconds and then repeat for number of sets listed, before moving on to the next superset. If you are unsure of what an exercise is, all of these can be found with a simple search on YouTube.
1a- Bodyweight squats 3 sets x 12 reps
1b- Shoulder tap planks 3x8 each side *on knees if tall plank too difficult
2a- Split squats 3x10 each side
2b- Towel bentover row 3x10
3a- Glute bridges 3x12
3b- Side planks 3x25 seconds each side *on knees if too difficult
10-20 minute walk outside
1a- Pause bodyweight squats 3x12 *3 second lowering, 2 second pause in bottom
1b- Shoulder tap planks 3x12 each side
2a- Split squats 4x10 each side
2b- Towel bentover row 4x10
3a- Glute bridge holds 3x30 seconds
3b- Side planks 3x35 seconds each side
10-20 minute jog or jog/walk intervals outside
1a- Pause bodyweight squats 4x12 *3 second lowering, 2 second pause in bottom
*wear weighted backpack or hold a heavy book/other heavy object at chest
1b- Shoulder tap planks 4x10 each side *weighted backpack or heavy book on back
2a- Split squats 4x10 each side *wear weighted backpack or hold heavy object at chest
2b- Towel bentover row 4x10 *2 second hold and 3 second lowering
3a- Single leg glute bridge 3x10 each side
3b- Side planks with reach through 3x12 each side
10-20 minute jog outside OR sprints about 25 yards x10/walk back for rest
I have also written a free three day bodyweight program, available for anyone to use or share. Please feel free to use it! The program can be found here.
Movement matters, for so many reasons. I know it can be a challenge to get motivated during such strange times, but you can do it! I’m happy to provide advice or support in any way. Please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. For those of you with at home exercise equipment, I do also sell online personal training and customized training programs. Check out my services page if you are interested in working together.