Woman exercising with two toddlers

The coronavirus has made us change our daily lives. Let's work to make our lives better by incorporating a little exercise in the new routine.

Physical activity keeps us healthy and studies show that regular exercise can boost our immune system. Additional studies have shown that exercise can help improve mental health — boosting our mood, reducing anxiety and helping us manage stress.

All of these are greatly needed in this time of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

How to Work Out While Staying Safe

Due to social distancing, the gyms and yoga studios are closed, but that doesn't have to stop you from exercising.

Get Outside

The weather is getting warmer and days are getting longer. Take advantage and go for a brisk walk or jog. Go to a park and throw a frisbee or baseball with a family member, or kick a soccer ball around in your yard.

Stay Inside

If the weather is not cooperative, walk or run up and down stairs in your house or apartment building. This has good cardiovascular benefits and is quite a workout for your legs. To increase the intensity, add walking intervals down a long hallway every few floors or stop and march in place or do jumping jacks between floors.

For a fun 20-minute workout, try dancing. Pick two current fast-paced songs and three quick songs that you haven't heard in a while and dance your heart out. To make it even more of a workout, add push-ups, squats, dips, jumping jacks or burpees during the chorus.

Try Some Active TV

If you watch TV with commercials, do an exercise during each break — squats, push-ups, planks (on toes or knees, forearms or hands), jumping jacks or other exercises. Switch them around for more of a full body workout. If jumping jacks are too difficult, try just marching in place or just bringing your arms over your head for 10 reps.

If you are watching a movie or a TV app without commercials, set a timer and do an exercise every 15 minutes. Some shows are great to make an exercise game — every time there is spooky music do 15 sit-ups or every time there is a laugh track do 30 squats. There are lots of suggestions based on the movie or show on the internet and Pinterest.

Exercise Online

If you prefer group classes, you can look to YouTube for a variety of sessions. There are aerobic programs, yoga channels, tai chi, qigong, dancing and a combination of exercises. Try several to see what makes you feel great. You should enjoy your exercise as much as possible. UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center created several gentle exercise sessions that are great for beginners or those with preexisting health conditions.

Use Tech

If you have a fitness tracker, use it to keep track of how being home is affecting your exercise levels. If you see a decline in activity, use the tips provided in this article to boost it back up.

Tips for Success

We all know how our good intentions can get forgotten in times of stress or uncertainty. Try these tips to make yours stick.

Plan Ahead

If you are going to do some active TV, decide beforehand what exercises you will do during which breaks. For example, 15 squats during the first and third breaks, 15 push-ups during the second and fourth breaks and jumping jacks during the third and sixth breaks. If you are going to dance, make a play list ahead of time and decide which exercises, if any, you will do during the choruses.

Also decide what time you will be exercising. Don't plan to do it "whenever." Decide on a convenient time, like when you would have been driving home from work or while you are on your lunch break. Find a time and commit to it. Set an appointment on your calendar to make sure it happens.

Dress for Success

If you are working from home or not working, you can generally wear whatever is comfortable. If you choose to wear workout clothes, you are ready to workout whenever your calendar alarm rings.

Involve the Whole Family

Kids need to get out some of that built up energy, too. Encourage them to exercise with you. You could also include gym class in your kids' homeschooling routine, or just add it for some healthy bonding time.

Activities for children could include:

  • Designing an obstacle course
  • Hopping or doing jumping jacks during a commercial from the couch to the kitchen sink and back
  • Pretending to be an animal (you can assign them one or they can choose) then have them walk around the house like that animal
  • Getting creative and even looking online for more ideas

And remember, all of this can be done when we return to our regular lives as well. Use the coronavirus as an excuse to create new habits.

We often encourage people to speak with their doctor before starting an exercise program. Because of the pandemic, most doctors offices cannot handle this type of request right now. We encourage you to exercise wisely and safely.