How to Keep Fit While Staying Home

By Rachel Kim, PT, DPT

We are now several weeks into the new “stay home” lifestyle and figuring out how to keep up with our usual routines. Maybe you are like me and always did your workouts at a gym or fitness studio and are struggling to maintain your fitness goals. Luckily, there are many options for fitting fitness in at home, with minimal to no equipment required.

Set an hourly alarm and move

This idea seems simple, yet it can be very effective. It is easy to become engrossed in a project or phone call and before you know it hours have passed. If you set yourself an alarm or virtual reminder you are more likely to change positions and be active.

Try walking around your house, yard or taking a short walk in your neighborhood when time allows (maintaining social distancing, of course). You can also stand up and perform some gentle stretches like shoulder rolls, shoulder blade squeezes, neck circles or a low back stretch to the floor to get the blood flowing.

I like to think movement boosts productivity, but I can’t make any promises. However, we do know that exercise has positive effects on stress and sleep, so it’s always worth it.

DIY Home Workout

Tabata is one of my favorite home workouts and can be done with just body weight resistance and a small space. The basic format is each round consists of 20 seconds of exercise, then 10 seconds of rest, repeated eight times for a total of four minutes. Take a one-minute break and then move onto the next round. I usually do six to eight rounds — about a 30-minute workout — but it can be modified for any level of fitness.

A sample Tabata workout might look like:

  • Round 1: Jumping Jacks and Squats
  • Round 2: High Knees and Push Ups
  • Round 3: Alternating Lunges and Mountain Climbers
  • Round 4: Squat Jumps and Glute Bridges
  • Round 5: Speed Skaters and Triceps Dips
  • Round 6: Burpees and Plank Hold

DIY Exercise Equipment

Household items work really well for resistance training if you don’t have access to gym equipment.

  • For light weight use soup cans or water bottles.
  • For medium weight use a full gallon of milk or laundry detergent. Better yet, save your empty milk jugs to fill with water so that it’s always full and ready to use.
  • For heavier weights fill a duffle bag, backpack or laundry basket with cans or other household items.

I hope some of these tips help you navigate your home routine. Check out our new segment “Fitness Form Fridays” on the Emerson Hospital Facebook and YouTube pages where we will keep you updated weekly on appropriate body mechanics for common full body exercises.

Stay safe, healthy and keep on moving!

Rachel Kim, PT, DPT, is the supervisor of orthopedic rehabilitation at Emerson Hospital’s Clough Family Center for Rehabilitative and Sports Therapies.