In the COVID-19 pandemic, you may find yourself spending more time sitting in front of a screen and less time moving your body. That makes The Beast happy. But staying safe shouldn’t mean an end to exercise. Being physically active at home not only helps control type 2 diabetes. It also reduces stress and improves your mood, making life during quarantined a bit easier.
Whether you have kids home from school or you’re working at home – or both – you may only get short breaks to exercise. And that’s OK. Research shows that brief bouts of exercise across the day can be as effective as one long workout. Here are some ways you can sneak in some exercise without leaving the house.
In the kitchen
Waiting for the coffee to brew? There’s no need to stand around when you can be strength training instead. A gallon of milk weighs almost 9 pounds. Grab a jug of milk (or fill a jug from the recycle bin with water) and make sure the lid is on tight. Then stand with your feet hip distance apart and hold the jug with both hands. Plant your feet, bend your knees and swing it between your legs, then straighten your arms and legs as the jug swings forward. Repeat for five minutes.
Washing the dishes? Get in a few calf raises while you’re standing at the sink to strengthen your leg muscles. Tighten your abdominal muscles, lift your heels and come onto the balls of your feet, then slowly lower back down. Repeat until the dishes are done.
On the couch
Build an exercise routine into your screen time with just the couch and the wall. At every commercial or during the opening and closing credits, do a series of tricep dips. Sit on the edge of the couch, put the palms of your hands, fingers forward, next to your hips. Lower yourself off the couch, keeping your back straight and next to the couch until your elbows are bent. Press down to straighten again. Repeat until your show comes back on.
Just sitting can be a workout – if you do it without a chair. Stand with your back against a wall. Walk your feet out as you slide down the wall until your hips are level with your knees and your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Then stay there for 30 to 60 seconds.
Up and down the stairs
If you’ve got stairs at home, you’ve got a gym at home. Take a quick jog up the stairs, walk back down, and run up again, repeating until your heart rate is up and you’re breathing hard. Or stand with your left side facing the staircase and hold the railing. Climb the stairs two steps at a time sideways, moving your left foot, then bringing your right to meet it. Come back down and repeat with your right foot leading.
In the living room
From pushups to planks to jumping jacks, living rooms can handle more physical activity than the rest of the house. For the best exercise for the whole family, however, put the music on and dance. Dancing burns five to eight calories per minute, depending on the dance and how much you weigh. The more you shake and jump, the more you’ll burn. If you weigh 185 pounds, you can burn over 500 calories in an hour of doing the Dougie. Check out TikTok to learn the Foot Shake and other dance routines going viral, then hold a family dance competition.
As we are all discovering, living through a pandemic can be stressful – and stress hormones can raise your blood sugar. Exercise treats both the stress and the spikes. And when life gets back to normal, you’ll be healthy and ready to enjoy being out in the world again.