If you’re stuck at home and can’t get hit your step goal, maintain your fitness by building strength, keeping flexible, and practicing healthy cooking skills. If you don’t have access to a treadmill, it can be hard to hit your step goal through in-home cardio alone. If you have a bit of floor space, you can do bodyweight strength workouts or practice along with an online yoga video. Use your time at home to try some healthy, lower-calorie recipes.
Your goal should be to stay as fit and healthy as possible, even if you do see a dropoff from your normal walking and fitness level. You’ll feel happier, have less stress, and be in a better position to work your way up to your goal when you are able to get out and walk. Here’s how to stay fit by building strength and flexibility plus eat healthier if you’re stuck inside.
Maintain or improve your strength
If you’re not able to get your typical steps, you at least want to keep your leg muscles strong so that you’re able to start at a higher step number when you do get back to walking. Core exercises are also great to help keep your posture up when you start walking again.
Your goal should be to keep up your strength so that you’re able to start walking again without a huge drop-off in steps. Strength training is a great way to burn calories as well, and you may find that you’re interested in doing more strength training in a fitness center setting when you’re able to get out and train in the future.
How can I maintain my strength?
If you’re staying at home, you probably don’t have access to a gym or fitness equipment. That’s ok! You can do a huge variety of bodyweight workouts from the comfort of your own home. We’re also including many types of in-home cardio in the strength category, as they both burn calories and help you strengthen your muscles.
All you need is to clear out some floor space. A yoga mat or a rug can help give some cushion if you have hard floors – especially if you’re doing exercises that involve you lying on the ground. If you’re in an apartment, be aware that doing a lot of jumping can annoy the neighbors downstairs, but you may have no other choice!
Sample at-home strength exercises
Bodyweight squats: Squats work your quads, hamstrings and glutes and are a great overall leg workout. Here’s a guide from Shape.com on how to do bodyweight squats.
Lunges: Lunges work both your quads and hamstrings, plus supporting muscles. You’ll also work each leg individually, which can help you improve your balance and strength on either side. Here’s a guide from Greatist.com on how to do lunges.
Step-ups: Step-ups also work your legs and glutes, while giving you a bit of a stair-climbing workout. Start on the lowest platform you can find, and make sure that whatever you’re climbing up on can support your weight! Here’s a guide from the Mayo Clinic on how to do step-ups.
Wall sits: The wall sit is a great quad exercise that’s a lot tougher than it looks. You’ll put your back flat against a wall and bend your knees at a 90 degree angle as if you’re sitting in an imaginary chair. Start for short periods of time, as you’ll feel the burn in your quads very quickly at least at first! Here’s a guide from Verywell Fit on how to do wall sits.
Planks: The plank may be the best ab exercise you can do, and it’s much safer on your back and neck than sit ups or crunches. Make sure you’re actually engaging your core, and don’t worry if you can’t hold a plank for long. Here’s a guide from Women’s Health on how to do a plank.
Get more flexible
There are plenty of low-impact, flexibility-building exercises you can do from home with little or no gear required. Yoga is great for both flexibility and stress release – perfect for when you’re stuck at home in a stressful situation. Even basic stretches can help you feel more calm and work your body.
Stretching helps keep your joints lubricated and mobile. If you’re less able to get active, you may find your joints stiff and painful. This can make it harder to get back into walking when you’re able to get out. Keeping flexible also helps decrease your risk of injury, which is important both in the home and when you start walking again.
Yoga: There are many styles and forms of yoga, from spiritual practice complete with meditation and chanting to a more exercise-focused fitness class style practice. You can find yoga sessions with dynamic, fast paced movements, intense static poses, or more soft, meditative stretches. You’ll build strength and flexibility right from home.
Make sure to start with an absolute beginner yoga video and work your way up slowly. Since you won’t have the benefit of a live teacher to correct your form, try to do each move or pose with as perfect form as you can. Imitate the instructor, but understand that you probably won’t be able to stretch as deeply as a yoga master. If you feel pain or discomfort, skip that pose and look for alternatives or go very slowly. Your goal should be to maintain or increase your flexibility slightly, and when you’re able to get out and exercise more you can always look for a local yoga class. Here’s a 20-minute yoga video for complete beginners from YogaWithAdriene on YouTube to get you started.
Stretching: You can practice some basic stretching without the need to do a full yoga or other workout. There are a few guidelines to remember to stretch safely, however. You should always warm up before starting a static stretch. Stretching while your muscles and joints are cold can lead to injury. If you’re stuck at home, get moving around your house or walk or jog in place to get your blood pumping before starting to stretch.
Dynamic stretching, or stretching through movement as opposed to standing and reaching, is a good way to get flexible and avoid injury. Whether you’re doing dynamic stretching or static poses, you shouldn’t feel pain or discomfort from your stretches. Your goal should really be to maintain your flexibility level and perhaps improve a bit while you’re sidelined from walking. Here’s a guide from the Pacer Blog on stretching that can help you get started.
Practice cooking healthier
If you’re at home and you can’t get as active as you like, maintain a healthy weight and build healthy habits by practicing cooking healthier meals and snacks. One benefit of staying home is that there are less external temptations like fast food or dessert shops that may tempt you to grab something on the go. On the other hand, it can be hard to come up with healthy recipes with the food that you happen to have around the house.
Search for great recipes
There are more great recipe resources online than we could ever hope to go through here. A great way to find healthy recipes is to simply pick a food that you have in the fridge or pantry and search for recipes. Many will list the number of servings and the nutrition information, including calorie counts, right at the bottom of the recipe.
Use the time you have available to try different cooking techniques and recipes. You’ll surely find at least one that’s both tasty, easy to make, and stores well in the fridge or freezer. You can use your newfound cooking skills when you’re able to get back out to eat healthier throughout the day.
Don’t forget to consider snacks as well. Take some time to make low-calorie snacks, and avoid buying sugary or high-calorie snacks at all. If you’re stuck at home in a stressful time with sugary snacks, it’s going to be hard to stop yourself from reaching for them. If you don’t have them in the house, you’ll be forced to get resourceful and make healthier options.
Cook in bulk and freeze or store
Even if you have time available, you may not want to spend much of it in the kitchen cooking. This is where the freezer can be your friend. Most dishes freeze well, and stay edible in the freezer for weeks if not months. You may not be able to easily defrost and eat frozen dishes when you’re out and about for work, but if you’re staying home anyway you can easily defrost a quick meal on the go. If you’re trying to limit the amount you go out and buy in bulk, cooking and freezing can help prevent food from spoiling as well.
Make sure to let cooked food cool down to room temperature before freezing. Otherwise, you can end up raising the temperature of your freezer and partially thawing other already frozen food. It often helps to separate out portions of large dishes in individual plastic containers or bags. It would be hard to break off and defrost half of a frozen batch of mashed potatoes, but if you store in separate freezer boxes you can easily take out one or a few and leave the rest.
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