Easy Ways to Work in a Workout
by Janet Holm McHenry
Stay-at-home orders have provided challenges for those seeking opportunities for exercise. However, with many working from home, these unusual times have conversely provided more time out of a day, because commute time has been reduced and life has become fairly routine. Since staying healthy is even more important now—so as to reduce the effects of the virus—it’s essential to look for ways to incorporate physical activity in our day. In response to a question on Facebook recently, many offered simple tips to help others work in a workout.
View a Video. Chrissy Drew-Drzewiecki of the Sacramento area finds workouts on YouTube and suggests that if folks don’t have hand weights, they can use canned goods instead. Barb Roose of Toledo, Ohio, recommends Leslie Sansone’s videos (they are online and in DVDs)—some that utilize a simple, four-step repetition that can get to fat-burning, aerobic levels. Robin Jaquez uses Yoga Burn on YouTube and lifts weights weekly through Beach Body on Demand.
Try a Tracker. With more people online for work and using Zoom for meetings and church, it’s even more important now to get moving throughout the day. Fitness trackers can nudge you to get more steps and other activity into your routine. A Fitbit is typically programmed to buzz lightly at ten minutes before the hour if you have not gotten in at least 250 steps; walking just those 250 steps during 14 waking hours yields 3,500 steps in a day—more than a third of the way to the recommended 10,000 daily steps. Such devices can also measure how many stairs you’ve climbed, distance you’ve cycled, and seconds you’ve swum or lifted weights.
Work Out While You Work. Fitness equipment companies have been creating treadmills that provide a space for your laptop computer, so you can actually walk while you work. Another option is a treadmill that can store under your work desk and then unfold for your workout; Women’s Health magazine has several recommendations online.1 Melissa Lu of New York City says friends of hers use an under-the-desk elliptical machine that keeps their feet in motion while sitting for work.
Call Housework a Workout. Seriously, putting in a couple hours doing laundry, vacuuming, dusting and more can easily get you to an aerobic level. Kelsey Ryan of Reno, Nevada, says she does lunges while she vacuums and full squats when she needs to get into lower cabinets, and Chelsea Valdes of Chile mops her floors with a towel on her knees “just as my mom taught me.”
Say Yes to Yard Work. I do all the yard work for our home. I mow. I use the weed whacker. I edge and feed the lawn. I trim shrubbery and tree shoots. In the fall, I rake and bag leaves. I joke that “I call it a workout, so I don’t get bitter”; but the truth is it’s very satisfying and burns a lot of calories.
Try an Online Option. Zoom classes and Facebook Live workouts are new ways to work in a workout. Sue Kuenzi of Salem, Oregon, is preparing for an upcoming online tai chi class. When Joy Harrison’s personal trainer had to shut her doors due to COVID regulations in the Tracyton, Washington area, the trainer quickly put a plan into place to entrust equipment to her students—stretch bands, kettle bells, dumb bells, and jump ropes—so she could then lead them through a Facebook group and follow up with encouragement. Esther Oertel of Middletown, California, found a Zoom group with a health coach through her healthcare system.
Do Minute Intervals. One-minute interval sessions each hour can yield muscle-building results. Tracy Turner of Reno, Nevada, holds a plank position for one minute. You can also set your alarm to go off on the hour and then use a minute to do a series of stairs, pushups, or sit-ups—varying the one-minute workout from hour to hour.
Shop Till You Drop. Shopping can be mentally exhausting, but if you switch your focus and call it a “workout,” you can do a mental flip and get in extra steps by parking at the perimeter of the parking lot and moving through extra aisles.
Get Creative. Exercise can happen accidentally yet creatively in lots of ways. Here are a bunch of different ways:
- Play with your kids or grandkids.
- Use a deck of cards to create a variety of workouts: four different exercises for the four different suits (cardio, legs, arms, back), with the number on the card telling you how many reps to do (joker = 2 minutes rest, jack = 11 reps, queen = 12 reps, king = 13 reps, ace is high or low).
- Try fitness dice—with a similar concept.
- Put on your favorite music and walk inside your house with weights, then do squats, arm lifts, planks, and leg lifts.
- Punch a punching bag in the garage for 15 minutes.
- Do a kettle bell workout for 10 minutes.
- Alternate step knee lifts on your stairs or do a right repeater knee for 30 second intervals then the left. Allow a 10-second rest in between sets. Start with 4 sets and work up to 8. Keep abdominals in and chest up, says trainer Susanne Ketring of Reno.
- Use phone apps to guide your workout.
Multi-task Your Walk. When gyms closed in 2020 due to COVID restrictions, many took their workout to the streets—walking and jogging in their neighborhood or a nearby park. If you combine your walk with a mindful prayer practice—praying for your neighbors, business owners, your kids’ school teachers as you pass the various buildings in your town—you’ll multi-task physical and spiritual exercises.
But what about wearing a mask? Are there risks exercising outdoors? Jordan Smith writes in Runner’s World that “running alone is still the best way to reduce your risk [of catching the virus]. Go out for a solo run, enjoy the outdoors, and try timing your run for when you know your route or trail will be less crowded.” Facemasks can be challenging to wear while exercising. However, Matt Ferrari, a researcher with the Center of Infectious Disease at Penn State, says, “There is no advantage to wearing a face covering if you are not going to be near people at all.”
The truth is any time is challenging to work in a workout. Work, drive time, computer tasks, and Zoom meetings can make our lives sedentary, but there are always creative ways to bring movement into our lives.
1 Brandon Carte, “5 Best Treadmill Desks for Work,” Women’s Health 2020. Accessed 11 Dec. 2020 womenshealthmag.com/fitness/g30797142/top-treadmill-desks-for-work/?src=arb_ga_whm_d_bm_g30797142&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=arb_ga_whm_d_bm_g30797142&gclid=Cj0KCQiAzsz-BRCCARIsANotFgNaxzq8TejVdWyn3M-QYWmCtU-sxSJI5sp0WIZBYcnMk6Vwgw1svoIaAnmKEALw_wcB
2 Jordan Smith, “How to Run Safely During Coronavirus Concerns,” Runner’s World 21 Aug. 2020. https://www.runnersworld.com/news/a31439358/running-during-coronavirus/.
Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books—including the bestselling PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength and Discipline. A devoted prayerwalker, she has been praying for the people of her small town in the Sierra Valley for 22 years. She would love to connect with you at www.janetmchenry.com.
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