How to Work Out During COVID-19

By April 29, 2020Newsletter

With many states currently under “stay at home” orders, it has become difficult or even impossible to do your normal work-out. But with states considering re-opening, you should consider the risks before you hit the gym.

Amesh Adalja, M.D., an infectious disease physician, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, and spokesperson for the Infectious Disease Society of America noted that the “coronavirus is not found in sweat”. Nor could the virus be transferred by heavy breathing alone. However, coughing or sneezing are concerning as they can transmit the virus. This is especially true if the individual does not properly cover their cough or sneeze such as if they decide to use their hand as a cover. This can increase the likelihood that high touch surfaces, such as exercise machines, could be a source of the coronavirus. If you still wish to use your gym please read through their current protocols, wash your hands, and stay home if you are sick.

To help everyone stay active and healthy during May’s National Physical Fitness & Sports Month, we challenge you and your family to join our Work-In Challenge!

Work-In Challenge Goals:

  • Cardiovascular exercise minimum 30 minutes per day.
  • Strength training 2-3 times per week.
  • Stretching 2-3 times per week.
  • Try our Work-In Bingo to help you meet these goals!

These goals will help you support healthy immune function and boost your mood, as stated by Dr. Melinda Jampolis. However, if you are like the many Americans who are more sedentary than usual, you may want to do a little more than the minimum to prevent weight gaining. Just keep in mind that if you do not already exercise frequently or if you have a pre-existing condition, strenuous exercise may temporarily suppress your immune system. So, exercise in smaller chunks throughout the day and keep things simple, like walking laps around your couch during a commercial break or doing push-ups while you are waiting for water to boil.

Below are some examples of cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and stretches that you can do in your own home. But it is good to sometimes venture outside! Outdoor exercise provides a change of scenery and the sun exposure can boost immunity by increasing Vitamin D production. Your backyard, patio, or balcony is perfect, but if you must venture outside your home please keep social distancing in mind!


If you have been using your treadmill as a coat rack, now is the perfect time to put it to use! But you do not need expensive equipment to get a good “work-in”. Here are some simple exercises you can try right now:

  • Chair Running – Sit towards the middle of a sturdy chair (no wheels) with feet flat on the floor. Extend legs so they are not touching the floor (you may need to hold onto the chair for balance). Imagine you are riding a bike and aim to complete 30 reps on both sides before taking a break.
  • Dancing – Nothing like playing your favorite tunes and dancing to your heart’s content!
  • Forward Lunges – Any lunges will do, but it is easier to use a chair or countertop for support with forward lunges. For beginners, take a comfortable step forward with your right leg. Bend your right knee, return back to a standing position, and repeat on left leg. To make this exercise more advanced, bend both knees at the same time while keeping your hips perpendicular to the floor.
  • “Housewalking” – Walk whenever you can! When you
    are brushing your teeth, talking on the phone, watching TV, etc. Even try walking up and down some stairs or using weights while you walk.
  • March in Place
  • Scissor Steps – Begin with feet together and arms crossed in front of chest. Have your right foot take one step to the right while opening your arms, forming a star. Return to initial position. Repeat on left side.
  • Seated Skater Switch – Sit towards the middle of a sturdy chair (no wheels) with feet flat on the floor. Begin by raising your right heel off the floor, then your left leg as well while pointing your left toe. Raise your arms straight forward, parallel to the floor. Rotate your torso so your left arm touches your right toe, and your right arm reaches towards the sky. Return torso to front-facing position and arms straight forward. Repeat exercise in opposite direction.
  • Step Jacks – Just like normal jumping jacks, but keeping 1 foot in initial position. So, no need to actually jump.
  • Virtual Marathons – If you are a more experienced runner or looking to try something new, try the multitude of virtual (and sometimes free) marathons
  • Yard Work – Whether you are gardening or mowing your lawn, it counts! Plus, you get the additional benefit of Vitamin D from sun exposure.

Strength Training

The American Council on Exercise affirms that strength training exercises are especially important for individuals over 50 due to a higher risk for age-related muscle loss. This muscle loss could potentially lead to a higher risk for falls resulting in an ER visit as mentioned by the CDC. Here are some recommended tools and exercises:

You can use books, laundry detergent, canned goods, etc. as weights. Items with handles are best, but get creative by using a sturdy bag with canned goods. If you want to splurge, a resistance band is a cost-effective addition to your strength training routine (but suspenders will also work!).

  • Arm Circles – Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms straight out shoulder height. Rotate arms forward in a small, circular fashion. Aim to continue exercise for 60 seconds before resting and reversing the exercise.
  • Bicep Curls – This exercise can be done standing, but sitting is an easy way to protect your back while you first get the hang of it. Sit with feet flat on the floor and arm by your sides with palms facing forward. Your hand should be 180° from your shoulder. “Curl” or lift your right hand towards your shoulder so your hand is less than 90° from your shoulder. Then, slowly lower your hand towards starting position and repeat on opposite side.
  • Chair Planks – This exercise is a little easier to do compared to the typicalfloor planks, but you will still strengthen your core muscles. Using a chair, rest your elbows on the seat and move your feet backwards until you have a flat back. Actively push away from the chair so as not to sag into your shoulders. Keep your core tight to hold yourself in place for 30-45 seconds, but see if you can hold it longer!
  • Chair Squats – An introduction to the full squat, this exercise imitates sitting in a chair but with a few key points. Stand shoulder width apart in front of a chair. Slowly sit down, focusing on your leg muscles. Finally, stand back up into the initial position. For a more advanced version, try the exercise without the chair.
  • Dead Bug Exercise – The exercise as described is advanced, so you may want to first try this exercise beginning on your hands and knees or by only moving one limb at a time. To begin, lay on the floor with your arms perpendicular to the ground with your knees and hips both at 90°. Begin lowering your left arm and extending your right leg until both are just above the floor. Keep your core tight and be sure to maintain the positions of the opposite arm and leg. Return to the starting position, then repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
  • Seated Knee Lifts – Sit towards the middle of a sturdy chair (no wheels) with feet flat on the floor. Lift your right leg up slowly while maintaining a 90°angle between your calf and thigh. Slowly lower your leg to starting position and repeat on opposite side. For a more advanced option, use a resistance band (or suspenders) over your thighs.
  • Side Hip Raises on Chair (Pendulums) – Stand behind a chair with your feet shoulder width apart. While holding onto the back of the chair, lift your right leg to the side. Bring to beginning position and repeat on opposite side.
  • Single Leg Balance – This exercise is mainly geared towards balance, but can help to strengthen muscles. While doing this exercise, stand next to something sturdy to prevent any falls. See if you can balance for longer than 45 seconds!
  • Triceps Kickbacks – This exercise is similar to the Bicep Curls, but just a slightly different position to activate the triceps. Stand behind a chair with your feet shoulder width apart (you may also sit during this exercise). Lean over the chair at about a 45°angle from an upright position and your right hand less than 90° from your shoulder. Straighten your elbow behind you and then return to the starting position. For this exercise it will be easier to complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side. You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by using weights or a resistance band.


While cardiovascular exercises and strength training are great for your health, it is also important to stretch your muscles to ensure flexibility and range of motion.

  • Calf Raises – Begin with your feet shoulder width apart and hands at your side. Slowly move up onto the balls of your feet and then return. To add a little bit of strength training, hold weight while you do the exercise.
  • Crescent Stretch – Begin with your feet shoulder width apart. Hold your hands together above your head keeping your arms as straight as possible without raising your shoulders. Bend your torso to the right to create the crescent shape. Aim to hold for 30 seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat on opposite side.
  • Seated Figure 4 Stretch – Sit towards the middle of a sturdy chair (no wheels) with feet flat on the floor. Rest your right ankle on your left knee. Gently press your right knee down and aim to hold for 30-45 seconds. Return to starting position and repeat on opposite side.
  • Shoulder Stretch – Begin with your feet shoulder width apart. Bring your right arm in front of your body so it is parallel to the floor. Use your left arm to hold your right arm closer to the body, hence providing a better stretch. Aim to hold for 30-45 seconds before repeating on opposite side.
  • Standing Inside Thigh Stretch – There are a few variations of this stretch, but this version requires you to begin with your feet double shoulder width apart and your feet facing forward. Turn your left foot out and bend the left knee to be in a position similar to a side lunge. Keep your right leg straight and push the right hip towards the floor. Aim to hold for 30-45 seconds before repeating on opposite side.
  • Toe Touches – It will take time before you may be able to touch your toes. The key is to not force this stretch, but rather let your body weight push you down.
  • Triceps Stretch – This exercise can be done sitting or standing. Begin by bending your right elbow and lifting it with the goal of your elbow pointing towards the sky. Your palm should be facing your back. With you left hand, reach over your head to hold your right elbow. Gently pull your elbow back and hold for 10-20 seconds. Repeat on opposite side. A variation of this stretch is to hold a towel in your right hand, then with your left hand, reach behind your back and pull the towel down.
  • Warrior Pose I & II – Begin with feet together and hands on hips. Move your left leg back one leg length, keeping your toes facing forward. If you are able to, bend your right knee so it is over your right heel. Bring your arms above your head, reaching for the sky. Continue to look up while taking 3 deep, slow breaths. Now angle your left foot so it is perpendicular to the right and bring your arms down to shoulder height reaching over their respective legs. Bring your focus just beyond your right fingertips while taking 3 deep, slow breaths. Return your hands to your hips, straighten your right leg, and bring your left leg back to the initial position. This stretch is a beginning yoga pose, so if you enjoy this one feel free to look up more yoga poses!