At-home exercises that go beyond walking around the block

Sep 1, 2020


If you feel like you’ve strolled past the same tree in your neighborhood a thousand times, it may be time to switch up your at-home fitness. Whether you’re intentionally avoiding the gym right now or simply don’t have safe access to one, you can still get a high-quality workout at home.

Find your favorite activities

Working out improves heart health, builds bone strength and decreases symptoms of anxiety and depression. Plenty of fitness experts will tout which new workout routine works best. But the exercise program that’s right for you is simply the one that you’ll stick to.

If you dread lifting weights, focus on body weight workouts or low-impact alternatives like Pilates. If just the thought of running makes you want to ice your joints, try biking instead. There are many types of exercise that will bring benefits—the key to achieving those benefits is consistency.

Gym alternatives

Many of us have put our gym memberships on pause. But with a few strategic pieces of equipment, you can put together a home gym for your patio, garage or basement. Choose a few versatile pieces that you’ll use often, such as a set of dumbbells, resistance bands or a yoga mat. And, of course, you can get a great workout in with no equipment at all! Body weight exercises like squats, push-ups, burpees and jumping jacks can all get your heartrate pumping.

If your exercise motivation comes from a group environment, consider virtual options. A wide variety of YouTube videos bring all the benefits of instructor-led workouts into your own home. Try this beginner seven-minute stretching and cardio workout from Adventist Health White Memorial for a well-rounded quick sweat session.

Distancing-friendly options

Some of us depend on the accountability of working out with friends or family. There are plenty of social-distancing friendly activities you can enjoy with a partner or group.

Traditional biking or electric biking are both low-impact options that are easy to do with others. Parks or large backyards are great spaces for six-feet-apart yoga or bootcamp-style classes. You might have a tennis partner or a friend who loves golfing—both activities can easily be adjusted for safe distancing.

Safe stretches to do at your desk

With many of us still working from home, your daily activity may have decreased in the last few months. Make sure you take breaks and step away from the computer at least once an hour. Complete these safe stretches a few times a day to decrease upper back pain and reduce your risk of tech neck:

  • Shoulder openers: Sit with both feet firmly planted on the floor. Clasp your hands and extend your palms toward the ceiling. Straighten the arms. You should feel a stretch in the shoulders and upper back. For a stretch in the sides, gently bend toward the right and left a few times.
  • Chest expanders: Scoot to the edge of your chair and keep your feet firmly planted. Clasp your hands behind your back. Slowly draw the shoulder blades together and try to lift the hands slightly away from your lower back. Hold for 10 seconds.
  • Trunk rotations: Still at the edge of your seat, place your left hand on the back of the chair. Bring your right hand to your left thigh and slowly turn your torso toward the left. You should feel a stretch in the upper back. Hold for five to 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Remember to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise routine. Find a doctor near you.