COVID-19: Staying active while you're staying home

While gyms, athletic events, and recreation centers around the country are shuttered due to COVID-19, it’s still important for everyone, young and old, to maintain regular exercise even while you’re staying home. Regular exercise is essential for well-being and leads to better immune function, decreased stress and anxiety, and better sleep. 

Adults should try to spend 150-300 minutes per week – or 30 minutes per day – doing moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, and 2 sessions per week of strength training. Try to fit in 2, 5, 10, or 20 minutes of physical activity, however and wherever you can. Every active minute counts. 

Here are some ways you can stay active while you’re staying home.

Activities to get your heart pumping

Indoor activities

  • Put some music on and walk briskly around the house or up and down the stairs for 10-15 minutes 2 or 3 times per day.
  • Dance to your favorite music.
  • Jump rope (if your joints can handle it).
  • Do an exercise video. 
  • Use home cardio machines if you have them.

Outdoor activities

  • Walk or jog around your neighborhood but avoid crowded spaces. 
  • Be active in a local park. Spending time in nature may enhance immune function. Be sure to maintain social distancing and wash your hands when you get home.  
  • Go for a bicycle ride.
  • Do gardening and yard work.
  • Play active games with your family.

Strength training

  • Download a strength workout app to your smart phone, such as the 7-Minute Workout (no equipment necessary).
  • Do a strength training video.
  • Perform yoga – deep breathing and mindfulness can also reduce anxiety.
  • Find ways to do simple muscle-strengthening exercises around your house such as:
    • Squats or sit-to-stands from a sturdy chair
    • Push-ups against a wall, the kitchen counter, or the floor
    • Lunges or single-leg step-ups on stairs

Don’t sit all day! 

If you’re watching TV, get up during every commercial (or periodically) and do a lap around your place or an active chore. For example, throw some clothes in the laundry, do the dishes, or take out the garbage. You’ll feel productive after just one show!

FAQ's about physical activity and COVID-19

QUESTION: I’m under quarantine but not infected. Should I limit my physical activity?
There are no recommendations at this time to limit physical activity if you don’t have any symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms that should prompt evaluation by a healthcare provider include cough, fever, and shortness of breath.

QUESTION: Will exercise help prevent me from getting the virus? 
Moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with a healthier immune system. But high-intensity, high-volume training may suppress immune function especially if you’re unaccustomed to it. Balance your workout program.

QUESTION: Are there precautions I should take when I exercise?
The most important strategy to prevent infection is to avoid contact with others who are infected with COVID-19. Exercise at home or maintain social distancing when you exercise outdoors and wash your hands when you get home.

QUESTION: How do I exercise when I’m home all day with my kids?
Being active with kids can be memorable and fun. Find activities you can do together like an active gaming video, basketball in the driveway, or a walk in the neighborhood.

QUESTION: What if I start to experience symptoms?
Anyone who experiences symptoms should follow the CDC recommendations. You can also visit Intermountain Healthcare’s COVID-19 symptom checker, which will help you know when to seek medical care.

QUESTION: I’m under quarantine and infected. Should I limit my physical activity?
People known to be infected, but asymptomatic, can continue moderate-intensity physical activity, but need to watch their symptoms closely. Take great care to maintain quarantine to prevent virus transmission to others. If you develop a fever, cough or shortness of breath, stop physical activities and reach out to a healthcare provider.