Many of us are suddenly finding ourselves spending a large amount of time at home, diligently practicing social distancing. Gyms and health clubs are shut down for the next two weeks (or longer), threatening to derail our best-laid workout plans. Whether rehabilitating an injury or striving for better athletic performance, consistency is key. Many find this consistency to be easier when there’s  an element of social interaction—employing the services of a personal trainer, joining group exercise classes, or exercising with a friend.

Unfortunately, the consistency battle just got a lot harder.

Some of the things that make exercising easy and consistent are now out of our reach, but there are many ways that you can stay active at home. It may require an adjustment to your routine, but the benefits include improved health, a new tool in your “keep-fit tool-kit”, and the ability to call back to these strategies during other disruptions to your routine, such as traveling.

There are a multitude of exercise programs out there for you that prescribe exactly which exercises to do and how to do them. It is important to consider how you want to stay fit, what will work for you and your family, and what resources you may have at your disposal, whether it be experience working out or equipment you have access to.

As always, consult your physician or physical therapist before beginning an exercise program, and do not attempt if you are actively ill or injured. Here are 5 tips we think you should consider.
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1.) Calisthenics

If you don’t have access to that fancy gym equipment, don’t worry! There are multiple ways to use your own body weight to stay strong. Many workouts can be performed with the floor, a mat, a chair or stairs. There are endless workout routines on YouTube or other sites and many of them free. The hard part becomes choosing an appropriate routine for your fitness level, familiarity with the movements, and mobility.

We suggest that you try movements such as squats, pushups, sit-ups, chair dips, leg lifts, planks or bridges. These movements, along with many others are becoming increasingly standardized, which can help in finding resources and checking your form. Stepping up and down on the bottom stair of your house with one leg is a good place to start. If you can do 10, how do you feel doing 20? Or 30?

There are modified versions of movements, such as push-ups with hands on the back of the couch, planks with knees on the ground, or substituting standing up and sitting down in a chair for squats. If you can’t perform a movement, there is usually an easier way to target the same muscle with some modifications.

If you elect to search for a new routine, try the beginner routine first to ensure it’s within your ability level. If it’s not at a level that you’re used to or comfortable with, we suggest trying a different routine to prevent injury! 
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2.) Outdoor Mobility

You can maintain social distance while enjoying the fresh air and sunshine! As long as you maintain a suitable distance of about 6 feet from people outside your household, you can beat cabin fever and exercise outside. The most notable benefit may be that it is a great break from the household environment and cabin fever that we are experiencing.

Try going for a walk around the neighborhood.  Wave at your neighbors from afar, and take in the improving weather.  You could try hiking trails or road running too. Wheeled activities such as bicycling, rollerblading or skateboarding are other great ways to get outside.

Make sure you wear suitable clothes and shoes, and check any equipment that you use. Stay safe, and wear a helmet if you are on wheels.
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3.) Old Workout Equipment

Did you buy a treadmill, exercise bike, jump rope, pull-up bar, fitness video game, resistance bands or other piece of equipment? Have you used it recently? This would be a great time to dust it off and give it another try. You’ve already paid for it, and as long as it’s still in good working order, it can be perfect for times like these.

4.) Family Exercise

Any of the above exercises can be more fun with others.  Of course, maintain appropriate distancing and sanitation. Consider that it’s usually enjoyable to have someone to talk to when you go on walks, or that you may feel a little less silly following a workout video if someone else is doing the same thing a few feet away from you. Also keep in mind that kids are far more likely to engage in exercise if you are doing the same thing, and you are more likely to follow through on your plans if it helps others stay healthy.  Set up obstacle courses for the family that include running, jumping, crawling, or balancing, play a game of more active charades, or put on some music and dance together!

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5.) Telehealth

Some of the best resources are those that are customized for you! There are online services that will take your medical and movement history, assess your current condition, and supervise and coach you to either rehabilitate an injury or perform the best home fitness program you can. These services can act like a trainer, coach, or physical therapist, and they use video-calling from a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

The advantage of going with this option is that your program is tailor-made to your needs, as it can assess your fitness level and goals, ensure decreased risk of injury based on informed consideration of your medical and surgical history, and provide instruction in exercise form and technique. Knowing another person is working with you and cares about your progress can provide the motivation to stick to what keeps you mobile and healthy. Some people may need this approach more than others, but all can benefit from this approach, and if you find yourself unable to develop your own routine at home, it just might be the solution to help you.

There is no perfect exercise program for everybody, or even one for you.  When you spend so much more time at home than you’re used to, it can be so tempting to let your fitness goals fall by the wayside. However, you can get better if you try something different. Try one of these tips and see if it works for you, and if it doesn’t, maybe try another. Help yourself and your family to stay fit, healthy, strong and mobile while at home. 
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