I had a reader ask me a few days ago to write a post about how the older population should stay moving while stuck indoors, which is such a great question. There are so many online resources right now offering free streaming videos, but so many of them are geared towards young, fit, able-bodied individuals. So I wanted to offer some advice to those of you who need modified workouts or if you have parents or loved ones who are stuck indoors, and you are concerned about their health.

If you can get outside and walk, then do that. This is not a time to worry about losing weight, this is a time for us just to keep our minds and our bodies as healthy as we can. As we know, Health Canada recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous activity each week so if you can get out 5 days a week for a 30-minute walk you are meeting those guidelines. Please walk alone or only with the people you are isolating with. Use the walk for exercise not to socialize. Currently, in Canada, we are not isolated to our homes, but please be mindful when walking outside. Find safe areas to walk in and go during times when less people are around. First thing in the morning or at sunset may be better options than midday. 

It is so important if you are stuck inside to keep moving. With just a few short weeks of limited activity you will start to notice decreases in your strength, endurance, and cardiovascular fitness. Here is a link to a great yoga workout done on a chair. This is a great option for anyone who has health issues that limits their fitness as it will keep your joints moving and your muscles strong.  

Another thing you can do is work on your balance. In the morning, during your morning bathroom routine, spend some time practicing standing on one leg. I ask my clients who struggle with their balance to practice every morning. Standing at your bathroom sink, holding on to start, stand one leg and see how long you can do that without needing to touch your other foot down. Maybe your first goal is 30 seconds. If that is not enough of a challenge, take your hands away from the counter or try closing your eyes. You can also practice passing an object, like a hairbrush, from one hand to the next while standing on one leg. Try spending 3 minutes every morning practicing this.

If you are sitting a lot, make a point of getting up every hour to move. Simple things like toe touches, side bends, arm circles, leg swings, and body rotations are great ways to keep your joints healthy. You can also stand up and sit down out of a chair 20 times and do 10 pushups at your kitchen counter or table. There are lots of ways to strength train with limited equipment at home.

I also recommend using the technology we have available to us right now to workout with others. If you normally walk with a group of people you can set up a Skype, FaceTime or Zoom call and all be on it together while you walk. If you don’t know how to do that, hopefully you can find someone to help you set it up. If you are used to your morning coffees with your friends after your workout, I know my mom really misses her coffees after her Pilates classes, keep doing that but virtually. We can all still workout together, like we always did, and hold each other accountable to our health and fitness. It just looks different now.  

Also, just like the rest of the world, my industry has moved everything online. Studios are offering free virtual workouts, and trainers are setting up studios in their homes and offering personal training sessions and small group classes. Physiotherapist are also doing this, so take advantage of these services. Do this for your mental health too. Most counsellors and psychologist have moved to phone and video sessions so continue to focus on your mental health as much as your physical health.
There are many free meditation resources that you can use but it can be as simple as just sitting still for 3 or 5 minutes and focusing on your breath. Learn to be ok right now with doing nothing. Sometimes the practice of doing nothing can be the most challenging but we all need to be ok with that for the next while.  

Here is a workout that you can do, in a chair, with two cans of soup. Try this every other day to stay strong and keep your body moving.  

Start seated in a comfortable chair and start lifting one leg at a time, as if you were marching. Feel free to add upper arm movement to this. Try to do this for 2-5 minutes focusing on long inhales and exhales.
Next, grab some soup cans and follow this upper body sequence. Go through the entire sequence one time then go back to the marching for 2-5 minutes and then do it again.

20 bicep curls
20 shoulder presses
20 lateral raises
20 reverse flies 
20 chest flies
20 bent over rows
20 triceps extensions

After you go through this twice, go back to the marching and then stand up at a table or counter for the next set

20 forward leg swings
20 side leg kicks
20 squats
5-20 pushups

Finish with some simple lower and upper body stretches, such as clasping your hands together and stretching your arms away from you, leaning from one side to the other with an arm extended or crossing an ankle over the opposite leg to stretch your hips.

Please reach out to me at [email protected] if you or anyone you know is struggling through this time. Let’s keep our mental and physical health a priority through this time.