Pochva Design/Getty Images
Pochva Design/Getty Images
Many people are moving their bodies a lot less during the pandemic. But we all know the benefits of regular exercise: It strengthens our hearts, lungs, muscles, and immune systems. And it helps treat depression and anxiety, both of which are at higher levels during the pandemic.
For NPR's Life Kit, we spoke to Salina Duggan, a Seattle-based personal trainer, about how to squeeze out time in your schedule and space in your home for exercise, one year into pandemic life.
Duggan recommends taking a look at your week and carving out time for exercise. "Set that intention, set that reminder in your calendar...to get up and move and stretch," she says. You can even try dressing for success: If you work from home, put on a sports bra, leggings, and then toss a more Zoom-appropriate layer on top. That way, when you have a few spare moments, you can get right into a short workout without the barrier of getting changed.
Tiny spurts add up
"Even one minute, that's all it really takes to get the blood flowing and get you outside of the work frame of mind and feeling good," says Duggan. Try doing five minutes of exercise at the end of each hour — it will add up!
Carve out an exercise corner
Duggan's clients have gotten really creative about finding spaces in which to exercise. "I have clients who will work out in their bathrooms, their kitchens, bedrooms — really, all you need is the length of a yoga mat," she says. You can also take advantage of any stairs in your home or building.
Incorporate the kids
Duggan suggests finding a family-friendly virtual workout. But you can also just blast the radio and have your kids join you in dancing around the house. Family walks are another great way to exercise together. Think of it like recess!
Sub in household items for gym equipment
There's still a shortage of gym equipment, as people have tried to outfit their home gyms. Fear not, says Duggan: "Think about all the household items that you can find easily." For lighter weights, you can use cans of beans or wine bottles. A bag of flour or a jug of laundry detergent work out to be roughly five pound weights. If you want something heavier, load up a backpack and use that. Towels and bungee cords make good resistance bands in a pinch.
Tap into community
Some people are intrinsically motivated when it comes to exercise. "But some of us," says Duggan, "need accountability buddies." Maybe that's a friend that you workout with over Zoom. Maybe you work with a personal trainer who can keep you accountable to a routine. Or you can consider a challenge with a group of people working together to achieve a common goal — like logging a certain amount of steps in a given time.
Explore virtual group classes
Many group exercise classes have shifted to live stream and on-demand formats. Kate Wallich is the founder of Dance Church, a free-form dance cardio workout. Dance Church streams live weekly and runs on donations. Wallich says, "Looking up in the corner of the platform and seeing that there's 1,000 other people doing class with you feels good, especially in a time when we're all isolated."
Now is a great time to try a new class or get back into an activity you miss. Call up a friend or family member and invite them to tune in to a virtual workout together.
The podcast version of this story was produced by Sylvie Douglis.
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