Working Out While In: CSUN Expert Offers Tips for Staying Fit at Home

Staying active while social distancing and sheltering in place can be challenging. With the closure of schools and gyms, it can also be a struggle to get in your workout. But just because you can’t leave your home doesn’t mean you can’t move your body, ease your stiff or sore muscles — and perform activities you would typically do at the gym or in group exercise classes.

It is possible to get in a beneficial workout at home, said Steven Loy, CSUN professor of kinesiology. You don’t need machines or equipment, Loy said — “fitness” and aerobic exercises can even take the form of a brisk walk around your neighborhood, practicing Tik Tok dances, fitness video games or doing yard work and you’re a frequent gym goer, you can do the same exercises substituting everyday household items like weighted backpacks or grocery bags.

Loy noted that those who are attempting to begin working out don’t have to be overly ambitious. By setting high expectations early on it is likely you won’t be able to keep the same routine from now til the end of social distancing.

“Start gradually … start slow and strive for developing a routine,” he said.

For some, the transition to working out alone at home may be hard. To ease this struggle, CSUN’s Student Recreation Center (SRC) is offering free online group exercise classes that would typically take place on campus. The class offerings include strength training, cardio dance classes, and mind and body classes. In terms of equipment, class participants only need to have on hand everyday home items, such as chairs and canned goods (as makeshift weights). The classes are available to anyone in the CSUN community.

3 Wins Fitness Instructor Alexis demonstrates exercises you can perform at home using a backpack

3 Wins Fitness Instructor Alexis demonstrates exercises you can perform at home using a backpack

Alternatively, CSUN’s 3 Wins Fitness Program has posted instructional videos to their Instagram page as well as written instructions for those who can’t fit the SRC group classes into their schedule. These workouts that can be done whenever  and wherever you’d like. 3 Wins Fitness is also preparing a program called Back to Basics which centers on building a foundation of strength and aerobic capacity to build lifelong fitness. This program is accessible at home and will also be connected to the CSUN Get Active program utilizing the re-designed parcourse on Lindley and Plummer.

As a starting point, Loy advised following the federal government’s 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines. This guide offers simple activities for exercise at home, including workout length and stress levels, which vary by age and ability.

The guide offers suggestions for five different age groups and suggestions specific to the age groups. ​​Across all age groups, the guide suggests walking. This can be taken as an opportunity to go on a walk with anyone in your home. Remember to follow social distancing and other health guidelines when you go outside.

For children and teens age 6-17, the guide suggests moderate to vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes a day. This can be something as simple as  an activity like martial arts, playing tag and other activities, all in a safe location. There are even fitness video games that can be played from the comfort of your living room. ​A game you will probably recognize is Just Dance. It’s a dancing cardio game available on most consoles and features dances of the most popular songs. Another game that can be played is Ring Fit Adventure, a role playing game for the Nintendo Switch that combines a story with exercises.

Adults should exercise for at least two hours and 30 minutes to five hours per week of moderate-intensity physical activities, according to the guide. These activities include walking or yoga. Alternatively, adults can perform one hour and 15 minutes to two hours and 30 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging or heavy yard work. Muscle-strengthening activities that require lifting heavy objects and experimenting with different movements so you work out different muscle groups should be done two or more days per week.

Older adults ages 65 and over should perform more than one type of physical activity. For example, a combination of aerobics and muscle-strengthening exercises are recommended. Older adults should also base their work out on their level of fitness.

Being inside doesn’t have to be mean being out of shape. As the SRC put it on its Instagram page: “Start sweating from home now to see those gains.”