The best ways to stay active when stuck inside

When you’re stuck at home, it’s all too easy to let your regular exercise habits slide. You’re not in the groove, you don’t have access to your gym, and even going for a walk is tricky with social distancing.

The solution? Creating new habits for staying active on the home front. For starters, the health benefits are numerous: improved memory, better sleep, less risk of developing chronic disease. Regular activity can be effective at warding off depression, too, according to the Black Dog Institute.

Given that our Connectivity in the Age of COVID-19 research found that isolation has had a negative impact on the physical health of 24.5 per cent of seniors, and the mental health of 30.1 per cent, now’s the time to shoehorn a little activity into your at-home routine, if you’re not already. Here’s how.

What you can do to stay fit

Ideally, you want a fitness routine that gets your heart rate up, includes strength training for muscle density, and incorporates warm-ups and stretching to improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

Choosing activities you find fun – whether that’s dancing, pilates, walking the dog or working out with a personal trainer face to face or online – can ensure you keep up with it rather than view exercise as a chore.

How can online exercise classes help?

The pandemic has forced us to establish new ways of doing things – and for those who can’t stay motivated to exercise on their own, taking an online class could be just the ticket.

Videoconferencing is becoming as common as picking up the phone, and with a tablet or computer it’s easy to pay for a live class or find a range of free workouts tailored to different fitness levels.

Your first port of call should be your gym – they may be offering streamed classes online which you can do in the comfort of your own home. Or, hunt down workouts you can do online – even roping a workout buddy to do one with you. Here are some you may like to try:

What else can you do that’s not typically ‘exercise’?

It’s true – not all activity has to involve lycra and following an instructor barking out commands! You can still enjoy the benefits of an elevated heart rate and working your muscles by gardening, washing the car or doing some brisk household cleaning.

Other ways to squeeze more activity in might include climbing the stairs more, walking around your house every time you take a phone call and parking further away from the entrance when you’re at the supermarket.

Staying safe with an at-home exercise plan

If you’re over 40, new to exercising, have some risk factors (such as high blood pressure) or are carrying a little extra weight around the middle, it’s essential to visit your GP and get medical clearance before starting any exercise program. He or she may also be able to suggest ways to tailor activity to your personal circumstances or advise you about engaging a personal trainer who can help you improve your fitness slowly and safely.

Another option would be to book some online sessions with an exercise physiologist who’s experienced in dealing with older people, to ensure you maintain good posture and form during bouts of activity. Taking the first part of a pre-exercise screening questionnaire may also be useful, especially if you’re working with professionals on establishing an activity program that’s suited to your needs.

Although we may have more time to ourselves than ever when we’re stuck at home, it can be difficult to commit to a regular exercise routine – especially when you’re out of the habit.

However, numerous studies show just how important regular activity is for your mental and physical wellbeing. Seek advice from a professional if you need some extra motivation, and take it slow – but definitely start. Your body and brain will thank you!

If you’re stuck at home for a while, making sure your home and contents insurance is up to date can help provide peace of mind.

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