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How to stay fit without visiting the gym

A woman doing situps in her living room.

Are you ready to return to your gym? Maybe not. You may be one of the people at higher risk for COVID-19. Perhaps you're older or have a chronic medical condition. Or exercising in close proximity to others may not be recommended for your community at this time.

But that doesn't mean you should let your physical activity slip during the pandemic. Health experts recommend that adults get 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise per week. They also recommend doing muscle-strengthening activities on two days of the week.

If you can't return to the gym, choose to get your aerobic and muscle-strengthening workout done at home. Here are some ideas to get started.

At-home circuit training

You can build your own circuit training routine at home without needing any special equipment, except maybe a floor mat. The American Heart Association suggests you build a circuit by alternating between aerobic exercises and strengthening exercises.

Pick three to four exercises from each category below. Alternate aerobic and strength exercises in short bursts of 30 seconds for up to three minutes. Then repeat the circuit two to three times.

Aerobic exercises can include:

  • Jumping jacks.
  • Squat jumps.
  • Jogging or marching in place.
  • Stair-climbing or step-ups.
  • High knees.
  • Mountain climbers.
  • Star jumps.
  • Burpees.

Strengthening exercises can include:

  • Plank and side plank.
  • Pushups.
  • Situps or crunches.
  • Hip lift or bridge position.
  • Triceps dips on a chair.
  • Lunges.
  • Squats or chair position.
  • Wall sits.

Other fitness ideas

If circuit training isn't your style, you can do other exercises at home. The American College of Sports Medicine and other experts suggest trying these aerobic activities:

  • Jump rope.
  • Use your home cardio machine, if you have one.
  • Walk or jog around your neighborhood. (Stay at least 6 feet away from others.)
  • Go for a bicycle ride.
  • Do gardening and lawn work.
  • Play active games with your family, such as basketball in the driveway.
  • Walk briskly around the house or up and down the stairs for 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times a day.

Also try these strength-training activities:

  • Download a strength-training workout app to your smartphone.
  • Perform yoga.
  • Do squats or sit-to-stands from a sturdy chair.
  • Do pushups against a wall, the kitchen counter or the floor.
  • Do lunges or single-leg step-ups on stairs.
  • Don't have weights at home? Lift cans of food or bottles of laundry detergent.

Don't forget to stretch

You might want to end each of your workouts with some stretching maneuvers. Here are a few ideas from the American Council on Exercise, with links to directions on how to do them:

Want more ideas for coping with the pandemic? Visit our Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 6/16/2020

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