All around the world, the act of “staying in” has taken on a whole new meaning. Once upon a time—that is, two weeks ago—it was a choice, something to do on the odd lazy day or night. Now, it’s a necessary way of life. It has its perks—if nothing else, it removes the pressure of finding something to do on Friday nights—but it also means a lot of being sedentary, whether you can work from home or you find yourself filling the hours with Disney+, reading a book, playing a game, or learning a new hobby.
Even if you can get in a run or home workout at some point in the day, without anywhere in particular to go, it’s all too easy to spend the rest of your time in a seated position. With these tips, you can get some movement in—and even hit your step count (if that’s a thing for you).
Do a quick workout after finishing a task
You may not always think of working out as a reward. But under self-quarantine, it can be helpful to use movement as an incentive for after you finish something else—a work task or an episode of Love is Blind. After completing a video conference call (or an actual video), treat yourself to a quick cardio sequence or a five-minute yoga flow—over the course of a day, if you tick five things off your to-do (or Watch Later) list, that adds up to a 25-minute workout.
Don’t want to do something super-structured? Try jumping rope, doing some jumping jacks, or just taking a quick walk around the block. No matter what you choose, it’s a great way to balance your productivity and activity all day.
Have an at-home dance party
As long as you have an active internet connection and a device with a speaker, it couldn’t be easier to access your favorite music—from salsa to Broadway to YouTube dance tutorials to the entire Mamma Mia soundtrack—thereby turning your living room into a disco with just a few clicks. (It just so happens that many pop songs are five minutes long, so this could be your “workout” between tasks, too.)
If you share your living space with others—a spouse, partner, kids, roommates, pets—invite them to join in so it becomes a social activity and a way to get your blood moving. If you live by yourself, you can treat it as an opportunity to really let loose to Whitney Houston or try out some TikTok dances and post them yourself to see how they are received. Whether your moves involve jazz squares, jetés, or twerking, you’ll end up having a lot of fun.
Channel pent-up energy into housework
Sitting around the house is a good way to remind yourself how important it is to keep it tidy. Chores are no one’s idea of a fun time, but having a clean living space is its own reward—and, in getting it there, you can get the blood pumping. Things like vacuuming, mowing the lawn, gardening, and even doing laundry and making beds can burn calories. Sure, it’s not the same as going on a run, but you’ll still get off your couch, increase your heart rate, and accomplish something other than a TV binge.
Join a virtual exercise class
If your former exercise routine consisted of attending fitness studios you can no longer attend, you may find it hard to motivate yourself to work out. In that case, schedule a virtual workout class with some friends: Pick out a streaming workout on YouTube, get on a video call, and press play at the same time to sweat it out together. Once it’s over, you can exchange virtual high fives before hanging up; alternatively, if you are a “work out now/drink wine later” kind of person, you can stay on the call and pour yourself a glass to enjoy a post-workout happy hour together in the comfort of your home.
When you can’t rope anyone else in on a virtual workout sesh, take part in a live one with strangers. This is easiest if you have a device like the Mirror or a Peloton, but lots of workout studios, athletic brands, and personal trainers are hosting live workout sessions on their Instagram pages every day. (They’re all stuck at home, too, after all.) Check out the profiles of your favorite studios or celebrity trainers, see what works for you, and get moving.
Get a standing desk—or make one yourself
When you work on your computer for most of the day, you may think that you have to do it in a seated position. But this isn’t true if you use a standing desk. You can buy one—either a full-on standing desk setup or a desk converter. Or you can DIY an impromptu desk with a high-enough kitchen counter or some crates and boxes you can stack on a table to achieve the right height. (This may also help you decide if you like standing while you work enough to invest in a real standing desk in the long run.)
Give yourself an eight-hour challenge
Some fitness trackers have a setting that makes them buzz if you’ve been sitting still for too long. This can be a useful feature if the main reason you’ve been sitting all day is because you get so engrossed in whatever you’re doing that you don’t think to get up (bathroom visits and food breaks notwithstanding).
In lieu of a fitness tracker, you can set an alarm on your phone to go off once every hour for eight hours, as a reminder to get up and stretch your legs. Or make a game out of it, and challenge yourself to do something else—whether it’s 10 pushups or 100 jumping jacks or a minute-long plank or run up and down the stairs 10 times—in addition to taking a quick stroll. No matter what, you’ll get your steps (and exercise) in while getting through the day.
Get your social time outdoors
You may already be scheduling phone calls and video chats with friends and family to get your social time in. If you’re already planning on talking to a friend, why not multitask with a walk outside at the same time? (Yes, you can go outdoors, as long as you are able to keep your distance from other people.) Audio-only calls are probably safest so you can watch where you’re going, but if you use a video-or-audio calling app (like Facetime, Hangouts, WhatsApp, or Duo), you can turn on the cameras to share views from your respective corners of the world.
Alternatively, if you have a friend who lives close by, try a social-distance walk. This involves strolling “together” but keeping at least six feet of space between you, and getting on a call so you may carry on a conversation. Yes, it seems weird, but Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern did it, so why shouldn’t you?