By: Shawna Newman
Date: May 9, 2020
From bad weather to self-isolation, one thing is certain – being stuck indoors doesn’t mean you can’t stay active. In fact, there are tons of things you can do in place of hitting the gym or cycling through the park.
We reached out to some activity experts to get their thoughts on the #1 thing you can do stay active when you’re indoors. Check out their creative responses below.
16 Ways To Stay Active When You’re Stuck Inside At Home
1. Start Your Day Out With Activity
Reserve the first 10 minutes when you wake up for stretch and light core work. This not only gives you endorphins to get motivated for the rest of the day but it also helps your body recognize that sleep has ended and it’s time for movement.
Just 10 minutes daily, consistently will also improve your flexibility, strength and reduce tension in key areas like shoulders and back that often happen when stuck at home or in closed quarters for many hours.
The best idea is to reserve at least four stretches of 60 seconds each for common tense areas: shoulders, lower back, hamstrings and neck.
— Chardét Durbin, personal trainer at Corpão Fitness
2. Use Household Items As Gym Equipment
While the gym can offer machines and weighted equipment that can make the workouts more intense and difficult, you can incorporate the same types of workouts without the weight and still make it an intense experience.
You can always do body weight workouts. Those can include pushups, squats, burpees, planks, crunches, sit ups, etc.
If you want to include some type of weights into your workouts, you can includes bands or milk jugs filled with water. With those modified weights, workouts like bicep curls or weighted lunges could almost be near identical to dumbbells you can use at the gym.
— Dan Charak M.A.T., B.S., NASM-CES, Fitness Manager at the Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Health & Wellness Center in DeKalb, Illinois
No gym access? No problem? You don’t need any fancy equipment or gear to exercise. Just look around your house!
Have an empty milk jug for recycling? Fill it with water and presto, you’ve got a dumbbell! You can do curls and presses and really any type of lift you can think of.
Don’t drink milk? Have kids? Use them as weights! Let them sit on your back while you try to do pushups. Press them over your head. Throw them in the air (they love this!) Get them involved in your exercise to instill good habits in them at a young age.
If your house or apartment building has stairs, use them! You can really work up a sweat and get your blood pumping by going up and down the stairs. Challenge yourself to do even just 10 minutes and I guarantee you will be out of breath!
— Todd Buckingham, Ph.D., Exercise Physiologist at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital
3. Move It While Watching TV
I have a rule that I have to be on a piece of cardio equipment (in my home case, it’s a LifeFitness Cycle) to watch TV.
— Charlene Bazarian, fitness and weight loss advocate, FBJ Fit
4. Do An Activity You Actually Enjoy
Being stuck indoors is tough for anyone, but for outdoor athletes, it can be particularly tough and feel like an even bigger shock to the system. Getting your movement and endorphins on, even if inside, is critical to both your ability to get back after it following house arrest and to care for your mental and emotional health while you are cooped up.
That said, my number-one tip is to find ways to move that you actually enjoy! There’s no one exercise that you “have” to do.
Fit your workouts to your body rather than the other way around.. For exercisers who typically work out outside, that can mean trying to replicate their outdoor workouts, just inside.
For example, I have my road bike set up on a stationary stand in the living room. I’ve found that watching TV while biking really isn’t fun for me, so instead I dim the lights, put on some awesome music, and jam out.
Meanwhile, if you’re a hiker, you can try doing stair workouts in your house or apartment building. And no matter your outdoor workout of choice, you can use indoor time to cross-train. Think about how you can use your indoor time to strengthen your outdoor-workout abilities.
That way, you’re able to feel like you’re still moving in a way that’s congruent with your passion. And by doing so, you’ll have more fun, enjoy yourself more, and be more consistent–all things that will give you a physical and mental boost!
— K. Aleisha Fetters, MS, CSCS, certified strength and conditioning specialist and online trainer, http://kaleishafetters.com/
5. Get Your Fitness Classes Online
Watching exercise videos online has introduced me to new ways to keep my body active and fit.
— Mike Richards, golf enthusiast at Golf Einstein
My team of trainers and myself have transitioned to leading online exercise classes and personal training via Facebook Live and Google hangout. We have also published our workouts on our YouTube channel.
Watch Rocky’s classes at:
— Rocky Snyder, Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist at Rocky’s Fitness Center
Make a playlist on YouTube of a variety of workout videos.
It is important to include cardio, strength training and some Yoga or other stretching. Aim for at least 10-15 minutes each twice a day.
— Amanda Webster, Mind-Body Wellness coach and Holistic Nutritionist at http://www.amandawebsterhealth.com/
6. Move Outdoor Workouts Inside
I am a business owner who is very active, in and out of my home. I have brought my favorite exercises indoors.
I have a spinning bike that I go for rides on in the morning. I practice Pilates from home.
I also watch a lot of YouTube exercise videos, too! There are so many great ones for in-home exercise and they’re very easy and fun to follow. Almost anyone can do them from the comfort of their own home and get in a great workout.
— Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation.com
7. Make It A Family Challenge
Do a workout competition with your family. If you have kids, you can make them a bit more interested in taking up the activities by creating a competition out of it.
Try doing squats with everyone, increasing the number of squats or the time spent in the same position.
— Dr. Nikola Djordjevic, MD, a medical advisor at healthcareers.co
8. Dress For An Active Day
The number one thing to do to make sure you stay active is dress the part! If you lounge in pajamas you’re just not going to have the right mindset to get motivated.
Get up and get ready as you would for a normal day, and put on those workout clothes! Even if you don’t get active in that moment, the outfit will be a constant reminder to move your body.
— Kerri Tanner, VP Business Operations AnytownUSA.com
My #1 tip is to wear your sports shoes. I know, it sounds weird but it works. Putting on your sports shoes signals your brain that you’re in an active mode.
With shoes on, you’re less likely to take couch breaks and will feel a spring in your feet to finish work as soon as possible. You’re also more likely to engage in activities that help you make the most of this ‘run time’ such as cleaning, dusting, rearranging stuff, and even stretching.
— Mansi Laus Deo, freelance copywriter and staff writer at lovesunshinecheer.com
9. Focus On Workouts That Are Easy To Do At Home
Monica Straith, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, the Fitness Lead at AlgaeCal has 5 favorite exercises to do at home –
Jump Rope! Jumping rope is a great at-home cardio exercise because you don’t need a lot of space, it’s an inexpensive purchase, and can be done by beginners and experts. Variations of jumping make this high-impact exercise one of my favorite go-to cardio workouts.
Squat Jumps! This plyometric exercise will raise your heart rate and burn calories in no time! Again, you don’t need a lot of space and can be done by most fitness levels. Plus, no equipment required.
Pro tip – make sure you’re using your entire foot to take off into your jump instead of just the front of your foot and toes. Then, land as softly as possible to protect your joints.
Glute workouts! Target your butt by doing lateral band walks, clamshells, hip bridge pulsing, and standing glute kicks, just to name a few!
Stairs! If they’re available to you, utilize the stairs in your area to put together a high-intensity, sweaty cardio workout. Straight up, side to side or high knee stairs will always work up a sweat.
Resistance band/tube exercises! If you have a small space or area to work with, exercise bands and tubes are an excellent choice! Resistance bands work by adding an external force, but not necessarily added weight.
Tip: A common deterioration of form will be when someone is squatting and their knees cave in. This is typically caused by weak glutes and abductors. To combat this, by placing a resistance band just above your knees, it creates a tool to correct this failure in form. The band brings awareness to your body so when you squat, you can feel the tension loosen if you’re caving your knees in — and correct it.
10. Stick To A Schedule
Don’t ‘wait’ around for the best time to work out. It is important for your success to schedule time to work out at home, just like you would do when physically going to the gym.
If kids are home and you are having a hard time finding time, include the kids in your workout routine.
— Sabrina Wescott, MAXPRO Fitness Certified Holistic Health Coach, www.maxprofitness.com
11. Think Beyond Traditional Exercise
Keep in mind that being active is not limited to formal exercise. You can take your period of time indoors as an opportunity to get things done around the house, things which still require you to be active and burn calories.
For instance, giving your home a deep clean or building furniture all require physical energy and let you be productive at the same time.
— Tim Bigknee, personal trainer and entrepreneur, http://sightsandinsights.com/
Find ways to turn chores into small workouts. Making pasta for dinner? Before you pour the tomato sauce, do a few bicep curls with the can.
If you’re sweeping the floors, do lunges as you walk to work your thighs. Finding ways to do simple exercises with each chore you do throughout the day can help you move more, and if you have kids, this can also be seen as a fun game for them!
— Robert Lemus, editor of SimpleFitnessHub.com
Turn on some music, set a timer for 30 minutes, pick a closet, some desk drawers or even your garage and then organize and clean it as fast as you can! You’ll be surprised at how fast your heart rate will go up and how much you can accomplish when you put a time limit on it.
Not only will you burn calories and get your heart rate up, but you’ll hopefully be tackling some of those dreaded organizing jobs as well!
— Amy Jo Palmquest, Nutrishop owner and Certified Personal Trainer
The best way to stay active in isolation is to become a handyman and start repairing everything that needs fixing around the house. If you aren’t good with tools, hop on YouTube and learn how to do simpler things and get that stuff done.
— Miguel Cairo, personal development coach, https://lifestylerevolt.com
I think this is a great time for those who are “housebound” to take some time and tackle DIY projects.
Paint: This is a simply DIY project and for under $30, you can paint a room, add an accent wall, and change the character of an area. You’re spending more time at your home, why not use that time updating it and then enjoying it.
Change cabinet knobs: did you know your knobs can be changed with a screwdriver and pliers? It’s as each as loosening a bolt and you can changed polished hardware to modern brushed, even experiment with the on trend brushed bronze or gold.
— Teris Pantazes, Settle Rite Home Services
Do a 10-minute cleanup twice during the day. Set the timer for 10 minutes and try to get as much done as possible.
A quick vacuum, a deep scrubbing, and a vigorous window cleaning can get your heart rate up and help you accomplish a chore at the same time. It’s also a great activity to get the whole family involved.
— Melanie Musson is a lifestyle writer for ExpertInsuranceReviews.com.
12. Just Keep Moving!
Set a timer every 90 minutes to get up and move your body. It doesn’t matter what you do, it is the fact of building habit to move often throughout the day. This not only helps to ensure that you are staying active, but that you are also giving mind a moment to reset.
Some examples are doing 10 push ups, walking up the stairs and then back down, playing your favorite song and a have quick dance break, hop on to YouTube and find a 10 minute workout or yoga video to do, walk outside to check the mail, or go to the kitchen to make a healthy smoothie.
— Allison Tibbs, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, https://www.allisontibbs.com/
It is so important for your health to stay active, even when you’re stuck indoors. The most important thing is to prevent yourself from being stationary for hours on end.
I think the best way to do this is to set a timer for every 30-60 minutes or commit to doing some form of exercise in between episodes of TV.
Whatever you do can range from stretching to cardio exercise, even while you’re stuck at home! Following this rule ensures you are getting up and moving frequently throughout the day.
Here are a few ideas to get you moving indoors:
Between TV episodes get up and do 20 jumping jacks
Lift weights to build arm strength (If you don’t have dumbbells you can use cans or heavy bags)
Setting an alarm for every 30-60 minutes as a reminder to get up and stretch
Search on Youtube for free guided workout videos.
— Claudia Hleap MS, RD, LDN
The #1 thing I do is put a timer on my phone every 2 hours. It allows me to remember to walk around, do a couple squats, walk up and down the stairs, etc.
Putting a timer allows for me to not forget to do it and keeps me active. If I turn the timer off, I have to add another one 30 mins later to keep myself accountable.
— Crystal Diaz, Senior SEO Specialist, https://www.mdriveformen.com/
13. Spend Less Time Sitting
From using your ironing board as a standing desk to utilizing temptation bundling by watching your favorite TV show only while cooking, strive to decrease the time you’re sitting by at least thirty minutes a day.
When transitioning to a mostly sit-free day, do it gradually. Injuries occur when people move entirely to a standing desk for 8-hours a day.
Even when you start small, the benefits of moving and standing will compound to increase your health and longevity.
— Alex Davis, Co-Creator of Ryan and Alex Duo Life, http://www.ryanandalex.com/
14. Dancing Counts As An Activity
Put upbeat music on and have your own dance party!!
— Liana Pavane, Digital Wellness Coach at www.ttylnyc.com
Not in a mood to do a proper workout? Put on some upbeat music, just dance around, have fun and burn those calories.
— Hamna Amjad, Outreach Consultant @ Centriq
15. Make Everyday Activities Exercise Reps
Repeating our every day activities and turning them into exercises can be a way to stay active. If you go to sit down on the couch, stand up and sit down 20-30 times before settling down.
If you’re going upstairs, go up and down the stairs 3-4 times before staying on your intended floor. If you are lifting a grocery bag from the floor to the counter, repeat that 10-15 times.
If you’re getting up from sitting on the floor, repeat that 10 times! These things are functional movements we do all day!
If these things are difficult to do, I promise you that practicing them will make it easier.
— Dr. Nicole Lombardo, PT, DPT, CSCS, Physical therapist, CrossFit Level 1 Coach, backintelligence.com
16. Make Activity A Habit
Bonus tips from Monica Straith, ACE Certified Personal Trainer, the Fitness Lead at AlgaeCal on tips for sticking with at-home workouts:
Scheduling: Create a Calendar event for your workouts! Chances are when you have something scheduled, you’ll stick to it! Whether it’s an appointment, a visit with a friend…and even your at-home workout.
Create a dedicated workout space: It doesn’t have to be much to make it feel gym-esque. A yoga mat and some exercise bands on a clean floor is all you need and should help you stay motivated.
Find an online community or class to be involved in: There are plenty of people who prefer to workout at home! Whether you find them on a YouTube channel or an online Community, they’re out there. While at home workouts can be difficult to stick with because you’re typically alone, seeking out a Community that will keep you accountable will help!