Working Out Apart, But Together: Staying Accountable and Fit During Social Distancing
When you can’t go to the gym, meet up with your running group, or keep a regular schedule, don’t give up on exercise. Your body and mind will thank you!
Exercise can boost your self-esteem, sense of well-being, and your overall mood, according to a study in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry. That’s likely due to the release of feel-good endorphins, which may induce a euphoric state and reduce pain.
There’s no denying those benefits of exercise all sound great, but some of us need other people (and places) to hold ourselves accountable.
Here are some ideas of how you can work out together but apart during social distancing and sheltering in place.
1. Schedule online workouts with friends
With workout facilities temporarily closed, heading into the gym isn’t an option. Thankfully, doing an online workout is. Openfit has on-demand programs to match your workout style.
For the yogis and barre devotees, there’s Xtend Barre, XB Pilates, and Yoga52. For the WOD crowd, programs include Rough Around the Edges, 600 Secs, and Tough Mudder T-Minus 30. The workouts range from 10 minutes to about an hour. They are sure to get your heart pumping and muscles working.
Enlist your workout buddy, and sign up for Openfit together. Schedule your workouts in the morning before the rest of the day gets in your way. Or, if you’ve suddenly found yourself with much more free time, try for two-a-days sometimes!
2. Meet for a (socially distanced) walk or nearby hike
Err on the side of caution here, but you can get outside to exercise and still uphold the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention recommendations. Social distancing of at least six feet is mandatory! Find a friend to meet for a far-apart walk around the neighborhood.
If you are near trails for hiking, lace up and head out. Keep in mind that popular spots might be really crowded, so be prepared to turn around and leave if you can’t stay distanced. This is not the time for a road trip (even a solo one). If you have to drive farther than say, your local grocery store, you are traveling too far.
3. Plan yoga in a park
Find a local park that has enough space for you and a buddy or two to spread out. Space your yoga mats so everyone has a designated place and have someone lead a few stretches, then switch to another leader. Bonus points if you have a friend who is a yoga instructor.
4. Organize an online group challenge
Whether it’s between you and friends, co-workers, or family members, a group fitness challenge is a great way to stay connected and get those workouts in with a bit of friendly competition. Challenge one another to complete the most workouts, steps, or minutes of movement each day. Schedule a virtual happy hour to see how everyone is doing, and consider making the “prize” a donation to a local food bank in the winner’s name.
5. Go for a bike ride or set up a trainer
Cycling is a great way to get a workout and stay six feet apart in a well-ventilated area. If you don’t have easy access to a bike path or bike-friendly roads, set up a trainer in your garage, basement, or even living room. Invite friends via video chat to join a ride while you both watch a favorite TV show, using a screen-sharing app like Netflix Party.
If you don’t want to ride alone, that’s OK, but avoid large groups. Stick with one person, and ride side by side to avoid each other’s drafts.
6. Get creative with equipment
Don’t use a lack of equipment as an excuse to not work out. No dumbbells? Use homemade weights. No benches or ropes? Set up an obstacle course of sorts in your backyard (bonus for getting the kids involved!). Flip old tires, bear crawl across the grass, and do squats with a cooler filled with canned food or any other semi-heavy objects.
7. Remember to have fun
Remember to give yourself a break and think of exercise a little differently right now. What can you do that’s fun and active? What sport haven’t you tried in a while, but could add some variety to your current days? Schedule a Friday night virtual dance party with friends, dig out that old tennis racket and hit some balls against the garage, jump rope outside, or find some stairs to get your heart rate up.
Your workouts will look different now, just as so many other aspects of your life do. Stay connected, vary your expectations, and get moving in whatever way best serves you.