Text reads: Get exercise during the pandemic. Happy cartoon owl jogging the right corner, against a green background.

I don’t really like talking about things related to the coronavirus pandemic, but I’ve seen enough people complain about not having the means to exercise because of it. Perhaps this is something worth writing about? Also, all the following points will be valid even after the situation is over.

Exercise is really important. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight. Regardless of whether you’re on a diet or not, confined to your home or not, whether you have a lot of money or not… Exercise in moderation is always beneficial.

Exercise is good for your mental health and immune system. In a situation where we are stuck mostly inside and devoid of many usual ways of relaxation, it’s especially important to take care of yourself.

So let’s have a look at the many means to exercise during the pandemic!

Video games for exercise

Gaming probably isn’t the first thing to come to mind when talking about exercising, but there are quite a few options. And the most obvious benefit is that it all can be done inside!

Jump Rope Challenge (Switch) – This is a simple free rope jumping game that counts your jumps. The good thing is that you don’t need an actual jump rope and you don’t need much space. (Granted, if you don’t already own a Switch then buying a jump rope will obviously be much cheaper.) All you need to do is hop and move your hands while holding the joycons.

Fitness Boxing (Switch) – As the name suggests, it’s a fitness boxing game. You have a trainer who shows you how to do basic punches, dodges and movements. With both joycons in hands, you then do those moves according to instructions given on the screen. There is a demo available if you want to try it out. There’s also two player mode if you want to exercise with someone at the same time.

Ring Fit Adventure (Switch) – I haven’t played this myself, but it seems to be quite a bit more diverse than the previously mentioned games. The downside is that you need more room for some of the moves. You put the joycons into an arm wrap and a ring that both come with the game. Then you go on an adventure to fight enemies using various exercise moves.

Dance Games (various) – There are quite a few dance games (Just Dance being the most famous, I assume). I haven’t actually played any of these and while dancing to a game may not exactly sound like a workout, it does get your blood flowing and is definitely a lot better than doing nothing.

Youtube videos

Youtube is full of free exercise videos, whether you want cardio, weight lifting, yoga, stretching or whatever else. Make some room, pick a video and get on it.

I’ve noticed that having someone instruct me how to do things makes me more likely to try my best. With videos, the primary effort you have to put in is picking a video and making sure you have adequate space and tools (weights, yoga mat etc.).

Weight lifting

Gyms can be bad places to exercise during a pandemic. Everybody’s touching all the equipment and then touching their faces while wiping off sweat. There are few better ways to spread germs and viruses to other people.

But that doesn’t prevent you from buying some smaller equipment to your home for simple weight lifting. If you don’t already have a schedule for going to the gym, my simple suggestion is to either:

  1. make a weight lifting schedule, or
  2. develop a habit to do simple lifts whenever you’re watching TV or videos (about once every two or three days)

It’s more about how serious you want to be. Route 1) is for when you want to actually get serious, and 2) is for everyone else.

I don’t like suggesting people to buy crap to their house that they’re not using, so if you do get weights, make sure to use ’em.

I have two adjustable dumbbells and our apartment has one of those pull up bars installed. The dumbbells already allow following a basic 5×5 training (with the exception of bench press, which I avoid doing anyway).

I really like the adjustable dumbbells. Firstly, because they’re adjustable I can increase or decrease weights depending on what I’m doing. Secondly, they take up very little space compared to most other training equipment.

Also, regardless of what kind of weights you decide to get, make sure you work on your legs and not just on your upper body.

Outdoor activities

Wait, what? Isn’t outdoors the forbidden area right now?

Well… not in all cases.

Of course, if your country has forbidden all outdoor activity, please follow those regulations. Otherwise, I have some tips for you.

Something that many seem to overlook is that it’s mostly important to avoid contact (direct or indirect) with other people. (One of the major reasons why viruses spread easier in the winter is that people tend to gather indoors in close quarters when it’s cold.)

This means that it’s still fine to go for walks or jogging if you live in an area where you don’t really meet other people or you can dodge them from afar (and it helps if you can wear a mask).

Just remember not to take this as a suggestion to go out to any kind of event where you’re close to people.

You can also do multiplayer sports outdoors, like badminton, tennis or frisbee. As long as you’re just doing it with your family or someone living in the same apartment, and using your own equipment.

We haven’t done this for a while, but some years back Vayandil and I bought the cheapest badminton rackets we could find. Then about twice a week we would jog to a nearby public soccer field to play some casual badminton (without a net or rules).

We simply served the shuttle up into the air and took turns at running to hit it. That turned out to be really good exercise. The shuttle is very light so it would often get caught in the wind and fly around quite unpredictably. So we had to run after it a lot.

And make sure not sit all the time

I’m not going to go into too much detail about office ergonomics, because Vayandil already wrote a pretty comprehensive article about that.

But as a quick reminder:

Changing your working posture is important. When you’re working, make sure you don’t sit or stand all the time. Take breaks, change your working posture and exercise regularly.

So there you have it. A couple of ideas on how to exercise during the pandemic. Or post-pandemic.

Thank you for reading.

Gheralf H. Swiftwar

Gheralf H. Swiftwar

Crazy owlmister. Eternally attemps to find ways to prove that his thousands of hours put into video and computer games has not been just an utter waste of time.

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