In this article:
- Why you’re feeling so restless and how moving your body can help
- 3 ways staying active can transform your health, from a Providence clinician
- Specific examples for tapping into activity outside the gym, from online workouts to DIY circuit training to family scavenger hunts -- and everything in between
[5 MIN READ]
Stuck at home? Experiencing cabin fever? If visiting the gym is not an option, or if you can’t get out and enjoy social activities, you and your family may be itching to get up and get moving.
When you’re feeling restless, a new and fun exercise routine may be just what you need. In addition to the well-known cardiovascular benefits, exercise can also help your mental health and may even boost your immune system.
Luckily, you don’t need a treadmill or an expensive set of weights to create a good workout at home. Here are some fun and creative ways to get your blood pumping.
Tried-and-true home workouts
When you’re used to going to the gym or a regular fitness class, it can be challenging to transition to a home workout routine. It can be even more difficult with kids or other family members at home. Sticking to activities you enjoy — whether they’re by yourself or with your family members — can help keep you motivated.
In warm weather, there are more opportunities to be active outside. Whether you’re by yourself or with your family, you have workout options:
- Venture out on a walk or a hike. For safety, allow for plenty of physical distance between you and others.
- Ride your bike. Take this opportunity to explore new routes or trails -- or revisit your favorites.
- Go for a run or jog. For some friendly competition, try mapping a racecourse or an obstacle course and getting the whole family to participate.
- Try a scavenger hunt. Set an adventure for the kids where they search for things in nature or even right in your neighborhood.
Find a class online
There are countless fitness videos online that you can take advantage of while staying at home. Simply search YouTube for the type of workout you’re looking for (cardio, yoga, barre, stretching, Pilates, meditation, mindfulness, etc.) and you’ll find dozens of options.
Many gyms, yoga studios, and dance studios also offer live broadcasts or recordings of fitness classes using Facebook Live, Zoom, YouTube, or other webcasting services. Check your local gym’s website or social media pages to see if they’re offering any virtual classes.
Fitness apps abound, with many offering free or discounted subscriptions for a limited time/trial period.
Using your space for exercise
If the online fitness videos are getting old, here are some other ways you can liven up your exercise routine at home.
Set up a workout room
If you have a spare bedroom or finished basement, consider turning it into a dedicated exercise area. There are simple steps you can take to make it a fitness-friendly space:
- Move exercise equipment into the room (such as hand weights, treadmills, or stationary bikes).
- If you don’t have hand weights, try leaving a few soup cans or filled water bottles in the room that you can use instead.
- Set up yoga mats around the room with scarves or belts to use for stretching.
- Place towels on a small table in the corner of the room.
- Set up speakers that can easily connect to your phone or computer for music.
- Set up a fan to help keep you cool while you work out.
- Create a hydration station with a pitcher of water and glasses. You can take it to the next level by adding cucumber or lemon to your water.
For younger kids:
- Set up gymnastics equipment like “mats” for tumbling (use carpet or a towel) and “balance beams” (create lines on the floor with masking tape).
- Craft basketball hoops or soccer goals out of cardboard boxes.
- Create a bowling alley using empty cereal boxes and a ball.
Create a circuit training course
If you’re into circuit training but can’t head to your local gym, you can create your own circuit course at home.
- Set up different stations throughout the house and your backyard.
- This infographic from the American Heart Association has some ideas and guidelines for creating the perfect home circuit.
- You can also try these home-based exercises from the World Health Organization (WHO) that don’t require equipment.
Tackle gardening or yardwork
If you’ve ever spent a day doing yard work, you’ve probably felt its effect on your muscles. It’s a great way to increase your heart rate and burn calories.
- Clean up the old garden beds
- Plant seedlings
- Trim hedges
- Rake leaves
- Involve the whole family and get moving together.
Develop a competition
Whether you’re at home with your roommate, spouse, or family, creating a friendly competition can help keep you motivated.
- Pick an exercise move — push-ups, squats, or burpees — and have a daily tally of how many reps each person did.
- Use a chalkboard, whiteboard, or piece of paper to keep track and hang it in a central part of the house.
- If you live alone, compete against yourself! Watch your skills and strength grow as you increase the number of reps each day or week.
Staying active as a family
If you’re looking for a way to get the whole gang moving, try these fun, family-friendly activities. They’re great for roommates, too!
Have a dance party
- Break out your favorite playlist and have a weekly or nightly dance party.
- Rotate who chooses the music or theme each night.
Organize pick-up games
- Take games to your backyard or a nearby park.
- If your family is big enough, break up into teams and play two-on-two or three-on-three games.
- Try setting up drill stations similar to what the kids would have experienced at practice.
Outdoor games and contests are a great way to keep kids moving. You can organize competitions such as:
- Pillowcase “sack” races.
- Wheelbarrow races.
- Hula hoop competitions. See who can hula hoop the longest or walk backward while hula hooping.
- Tug of war.
- Yard bowling. Fill up empty bottles with water, sand, pebbles, or rice, and use any sports ball as your bowling ball.
- Fence targets. Use sidewalk chalk to draw point targets on the fence and have kids try and kick a ball to hit the targets. The one with the most points wins.
Create an exercise scavenger hunt
- Give the family a list of clues to find items around your backyard.
- Assign each item a fitness activity, such as jumping jacks, squats, push-ups or burpees.
- When someone finds an item on the scavenger hunt list, they also have to complete the exercise. You can adjust the number of reps and the type of exercise based on your kids’ ages and skill levels.
Stay engaged with others
Any time your routine is upended or you’re required to remain at home, staying active can help build your resilience — both emotionally and physically.
Also, remember that you’re not the only one adjusting to changes. Reach out to friends and family members to see how they stay active while stuck at home — it may inspire your next workout! Getting creative with your exercise can keep you motivated and engaged.
Find a doctor
If you have questions about staying active under challenging circumstances, reach out to your primary care physician. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory or search for one in your area.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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