General Fitness

Exercise in the Time of Coronavirus

There are people who will try to make you feel motivated during a difficult time, but end up unintentionally making you feel bad — I am not one of those people (I hope).

Right now, COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the world’s daily schedule, lifestyle and habits. We are all dealing with it in one form or another – some aspects positive, some beyond stressful.

If you’re trying to incorporate exercise into this period of time, and the same old adage, “Make time for yourself” isn’t cutting it because you want to holler, “If I could, I would!” right back, then here’s some ideas that may help:

For those at home with kids but no work commitments:

  • If your day is strapped with school work, house chores, fetching food, and then on top of it, you feel the need to come up with additional activities/crafts/learning experiences – take a breath and evaluate all that you are doing. Do the dishes need to be done multiple times a day, or can it wait until the end of the day? Choose what makes most sense to you time-wise. Do you need so many additional “learning activities” or are they stealing time without receiving adequate praise and gained knowledge from the kids after? Could you decrease the number of activities?
  • I’m not telling you to stop doing dishes or teaching your kids – I’m telling you to look at your daily list and if you had to cut things out of it, are there instantly ones that you could live without that would give you some spare time for yourself?
  • My kids don’t have their own devices, but they can use mine for Disney+ and ABCMouse. There is enough educational content on those that if I want to go workout for 30-60 minutes and let them be glued to a device, I’m not going to feel guilty about it. And let’s be real — we may feel bad when we don’t spend 24/7 with the kids, letting that parental guilt seep in, but I am 99% positive they do not think, “I probably should hang out with my Mom instead of watching Wild Krafts”. If your kid says that – awesome, hug him/her and send thanks to Jesus. But for the rest of us, let them watch that show so they can have THEIR alone time, you can have YOUR alone time, and you can regroup later to erase any unnecessary guilt you built up.
  • I say this often — expect interruptions, expect to be annoyed because someone suddenly wants juice or to paint the cat a picture. Maybe you’ll get a quiet workout, maybe you’ll stop five times, but eventually it’ll get learned that your exercise time is important, on the schedule, and the kids gotta deal with it. I’ve done this for 8 years – I know what I’m talking about.

For those at home with full or part-time work commitments:

  • This is hard, so props to you working parents trying to juggle everything. Before I proceed I want to say this — IT IS OK IF YOU HAVE YELLED THIS WEEK. If you think for a second you’re the world’s worst parent because you got overwhelmed and yelled at your kid, don’t. One house over, another parent is yelling. Forgive yourself, and try better next time. It happens.
  • Having a schedule, even if it’s a rough one or constantly gets messed up, to start off your day or week in some sort of order will help you make it to the finish line each day.
  • If you are full time, consider using your lunch break for exercise, even if it’s just 20 minutes, I assure you, you can get a butt-kicking, all bodyweight workout in.
  • If you think, “No way would I wake up early for exercise” try it for just one week. Just Monday-Friday for one week and if you still hate it, then scrap the idea and try evenings.
  • It’s key to have a workout plan picked out beforehand. If you have 20 minutes only to exercise but you have nothing picked out, that workout either likely won’t happen, or won’t be as effective as you hoped for, and then you’re going to be frustrated.
  • If planning a workout is just one more task to add, then don’t create it yourself. There are several free or discounted fitness programs online right now – choose one of those workouts and go. Or of course there’s me – I can create personalized workouts for you! I have a few options.
  • Exercise helps your brain focus, believe it or not. With studies of kids after PE or recess, kids tend to focus more on their schoolwork because of the positive chemical effect it has on their brain’s ability to focus. Exercise may be the mental break you need before going back to your desk for more work grind.
  • Right now employers and clients should expect to hear kid noise in the background of conference calls or meetings. It’s just the state of the world, and everyone should understand and respect that. You will likely not be able to perform your job at 100%. You will not be able to parent at 100%. Don’t allow others, or your own inner goal-oriented demon, make you think you have to.

For those teleworking, but no children or other needy dependents in the house:

  • Pick your time slot. It may even change daily depending on your workload, but pick one. Morning, lunch break, right after work, before bedtime – whatever floats your boat, and stick with it.
  • If you are alone and the loneliness of social isolation is bringing you down, de-motivating you, consider joining an online group training either via Zoom or Facebook Live. It may not be as exhilarating as an in-person group fitness class, but it’s something!

For those still going into an actual place of work and then coming home tired:

  • You’re tired. You’re stressed. You got other crap to handle when you walk in the door. I get it. It’s OK!
  • What can hold off until tomorrow? Chances of you getting in a workout daily is pretty slim, not impossible, but challenging. Can you forgo some stuff on Monday, handle it on Tuesday, so you can get in a quick 20-45 minute workout after work? And then do this again another day of the week?
  • Even if there’s only one day during the week, and one weekend day that work for you, it’s still physical activity. Is it most ideal? No, but it’s better than zero days, and with time you will likely figure out how to squeeze in another day.

“Something is better than nothing” and that is absolutely true. Maybe you won’t see impressive physical gains, or even change the size of your pants, but physical activity can create unseen mental and emotional gains that during a stressful time can make a huge difference.

If coming up with your own workout is stressful to even think about – let the professionals do it for you. Pick an online program, and just follow their lead. Less thinking and stressing and more sweating!

No equipment? Don’t underestimate the power of bodyweight exercises. There are hundreds for all skill and fitness levels at your fingertips via Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram. I’m currently running a Facebook Live workout group with 15 different workouts, all bodyweight! It. Can. Be. Done.

Don’t expect a fabulous workout. Maybe you’ll get it. Maybe you’ll be interrupted. Maybe it’ll become your favorite part of your day. Maybe it’ll be tiring at first, but give you the endorphins you need.

If you have any questions or concerns and want additional advice or help, give me a shout.

Jen@couragetosweat.com —- @couragetosweat — http://www.couragetosweat.com