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How to Stay Active While Social Distancing

March 26, 2020


The philosopher Socrates once told his friend, “You look as if you need exercise.” His friend responded, “Well, I’m not an athlete.” Socrates told him that everyone could use exercise, not just athletes. He said people who exercise have improved memory, less depression and a happier life. “A sound and healthy body is a strong protection,” Socrates said. This was probably in 400 B.C. Yes, he was wise beyond his years.

In our time, Socrates’ advice still holds true. Science has proven that aerobic exercise is not only good for the heart but good for the head. It’s a great stress reliever. Exercise has a unique ability to not only help you make physical changes to your body and metabolism, but it counters depression. It reduces stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. It boosts endorphins, the brain chemicals that provide a “runner’s high” and relaxation.

We have even more need to exercise now. In these anxious times, so many of us can use a lift! It seems as if all our normal routines have been disrupted. However, with the Governor’s stay-at-home order and other efforts to quell the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, we can’t go to gyms or yoga classes. So how can you stay active? 

Here are some great ways to get in some solo exercise:

  1. Take a walk. Go out and get some fresh air. Walking is way underrated as an exercise. It’s free and easy for people at all levels of fitness to do. Just try to be flexible: If the path is crowded, wait a bit until you can keep your six feet of distance.
  2. Turn housework and yard work into exercise. Now that’s a win-win if you get extra benefit from chores! Here’s a look at the number of calories you can burn while you’re vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen and mowing the lawn.
  3. Start running. Google ‘virtual running’ for ways to challenge yourself as you train for virtual races. Invite your friends and family to train, too – on their own time. This lets you enjoy a shared experience even if you’re not together. There are other benefits. If you’ve always hated the idea of getting up at 4:15 a.m. to make it to a traditional 10K, as you fight traffic and parking, virtual running changes all that. Now, you can run your race whenever you want! Another bonus: no porta potties!
  4. Go for a hike. Visit a state park and get away from it all for a while.
  5. Take part in a social media workout challenge to help you stay accountable.
  6. Take advantage of workout videos at home. There are a lot of options, from monthly subscriptions to free videos on YouTube and free apps. And there is enough variety available to not get bored. You can find routines to work upper body, lower body, allover cardio, Pilates, yoga, dance, military-style fitness and more. Some gyms even offer online classes. 

Work With What You Have

I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have gym equipment at home, so you won’t be able to get in a thorough workout without those awesome machines or professional trainers to guide you. But this is time to get creative! There are a number of household items you can use as weight substitutes. You can do bicep curls with soup cans or dumbbell rows using gallon jugs of milk or water. Planks use your own body weight as resistance. A carry-on suitcase can also work as a free weight to raise over your head a couple of times. 

For a good cardiovascular workout, nothing beats jumping rope, jumping jacks and burpees. To complete a burpee: start in a standing position, then go into a squat, then a push up and immediately into a jump. You can even create a line on the driveway with masking tape and hop back and forth over it.

Whatever you choose, make exercise part of your “new normal.” It’s a great way to deal with some of the feelings of depression, boredom and other disruptions of life. Who knows? You may develop a new, healthy habit and make a new set of virtual friends in the process.

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