Four Tips to Stay Fit at Home (That Aren’t Walking Around the Block)
Elyse Notarianni

In this new homebound reality, lots of previously overscheduled people are interested in new exercise routines they can do at home. Looking for ideas beyond walks and runs? Zeffi Angelakis, vice president of operations at the Greater Philadelphia YMCA, offers some exercise advice and adaptations for the age of social-distancing.


How do you stay motivated to exercise when you’re stuck at home?

ZA: It’s easy to stay in your PJ’s all day but if you have something scheduled, you’re more likely to do it. A daily routine will not only help you control your weight and reduce risks of heart disease but help your mental health. Most of us are going through a very stressful time with loss of jobs, children being home-schooled and the stress of staying healthy and COVID-19 free. Exercise will help you work out some of that stress, help you get better sleep, and keep your body strong.


What kinds of exercise alternatives can you do without gym equipment?

ZA: It seems everybody is figuring out or revisiting how to work out at home.

Setting up a circuit in your yard or even in an open space is a great way to do something different. This could consist of 5+ stations using body weight exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups, burpees, planks and jumping jacks. Do each exercise 10 to 20 times and start over until you hit a goal time you have set for yourself. You can do this with your whole family and have fun.


If you’re missing your group exercise classes, what can you do to re-create that experience?

ZA: At a time like this, it can be very tempting to shut down. Find yourself an accountability partner. Someone who will help you stay motivated, and you can do the same for them. Having someone you can call or videoconference who will just encourage you to get up when you’re lacking motivation works wonders.

But you know, the online workout experience has come a very long way. Many gyms are offering their classes online. The YMCA Mt. Laurel, for example, has a number of video classes like Boot Camp, Barre and Kids Yoga available through its online portal. Some of them are quite flashy, and some feel very much like you’re in the same room with your instructor


It’s so easy to end the day and realize you’ve sat on your couch for 8 hours. Do you have any tips for staying mindful of your movement during the day?

ZA: Set a goal on your smart watch or health app each day to get in a minimum of 30 minutes of movement a day or 10,000 steps. Imagine if we had experienced this 15 years ago without all the technology that’s helping us right now. The good thing is, you don’t have to. Technology is here, and it is your partner. So use it.

Take a walk with your children and turn it into a scavenger hunt. Social media has been motivating families to put rainbows or teddy bears in their windows so children can count how many they see on their walks. Search a “Couch to 5k” plan so once COVID-19 goes away, you can run one and be on track to a new health goal.

The options out there right now are extraordinary, and mostly free. Don’t be afraid to give them a try.

April 6, 2020
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