Tips for working out at home while physical distancing

Northwestern Medicine
Health and Wellness March 24, 2020
Attribute to: Dan Charak, M.A.T., B.S., NASM-CES, fitness manager at the Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Health & Wellness Center in DeKalb, Illinois
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Can I get a comparable work out at home as the gym?

Yes you can. While the gym can offer machines and weight equipment that can make the workouts more difficult, you can incorporate the same types of workouts without the weight and still make it an intense experience. Body weight is a more ideal option when working out in a home setting, but you can always use other resources, like chairs and milk jugs, to spice up your workouts.

What precautions should I take?

Some precautions you should look out for include heart rate, sturdiness of your home, and patience. When working out at home, you might find it hard to increase your heart rate and find it frustrating to not achieve it. Worry not as you are adjusting to your new environment and it might take a day or two before you start getting the numbers you are seeking. Be cautious of what workouts you can do in the house. Understand how sturdy your furniture is before using it to work out with. Lastly, be patient with the process. While it might be upsetting not being able to attend a gym to work out, it is only a temporary situation. You can always develop muscles or lose weight if you stay dedicated to your workout and take each day with the inspiration of getting better.

How can I turn my home into a gym?

If you plan on working out at home, try to give yourself as much space as possible. If that includes moving furniture around to accommodate your desired workout space, then do what you can. Try to give yourself enough space to do 2-4 walking lunges in one direction. I would recommend using resistance bands as they are one of the cheapest and most beneficial pieces of equipment that can be used in a home and gym setting. You can also use home products, like milk jugs and sturdy furniture chairs, to help assist in some of your workouts. You can fill the milk jugs with water and use them for bicep curls or lateral raises. You can use furniture chairs to help assist in chair dips or chair squats. However, just be very careful when using furniture as you do not want to damage or destroy it during your workout.

I don’t have a lot of room at home. What advice do you have for exercising in a small space?

Depending on how much space you have at your home, you can always modify and adjust the type of workouts you would like to do. If you lack space to do lunges, you can modify your workout and incorporate wall sits instead of lunges as they both target similar muscle groups.

I don’t have weights at home. What can I use for strength training?

You can always do body weight workouts. Those include pushups, squats, burpees, planks, crunches, sit ups, etc. If you want to include some type of weights into your workouts use resistance bands or milk jugs filled with water. With those modified weights, workouts like bicep curls or weighted lunges could almost be near identical to dumbbells you can use at the gym. You can use furniture chairs to help assist in chair dips or chair squats. However, just be very careful when using furniture as you do not want to damage or destroy it during your workout.

What online resources for are good for at-home workouts?

If you plan on using YouTube or workout apps for a workout, I recommended taking some precautions. Most videos are geared toward people who are very active or have a lot of fitness experience and don’t target the beginner or the general public. There is also plenty of incorrect information online.

Check the credentials of the person who is providing the online tutorial or video. Seek out experts with a bachelor’s degree in an exercise related field such as kinesiology or exercise science; and look for someone who has a nationally accredited certification such as ACSM, NSCA, ACE, NASM, or CSCS.

What technology do I need?

The only pieces of technology that I use for working out are my heart rate monitor and treadmill. A heart rate monitor will give you an idea of how hard you are working. A treadmill is convenient to have as it can help increase your endurance while working in a small area.

Is it OK to exercise outdoors? What precautions should I take?

During our current situation, you can go outdoors, but proceed with caution and remember to practice physical distancing. Avoid touching your face. Do not share drinks with anyone. Wash your hands with hot water and soap. Bring a travel size hand sanitizer with you if you cannot find a place to wash your hands.
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