Staying Active at Home

by Robin mcgraw

Are you hanging in there, Secret Squad? I hope so!

With gyms and hiking trails closed all over the country, lately more and more of us are having to get creative with our health and fitness regimens; so I turned to the fantastic Luke Milton, personal trainer to the stars, for a little advice! Luke’s genuine warmth, enthusiasm and positivity are completely contagious! I absolutely loved learning about his fitness philosophies, my favorite of which was “make exercise FUN”! Luke believes your body is your best gym! You don't need the most expensive, high-end equipment, or a top-of-the-line gym membership to succeed. Your own body is the best weight/resistance you can use!

It’s no secret that regular physical activity is linked to immune system function and better sleep, not to mention it helps combat feelings of stress and anxiety which are in no short supply these days. And if you’re adjusting to working from home, it’s especially easy to forget to get up and move periodically during the long hours of the day.  As the dust starts to settle on the big changes we’re seeing in our normal day-to-day lives, it truly will help your general mood and also your productivity if you can make it a point to regularly get your blood flowing. The latest science suggests that even one single workout improves your body’s ability to fight germs!

So much has changed around us, but fitness is still available to everyone; you just need to be a little resourceful! Exercising these days doesn’t have to be endless crunches and planks at home, but with limited options staying active and safe during the pandemic may require a little imagination. Consider adding some of these activities to your new quarantine routine.

  • Luke recommends for us to “control the controllables”. So much is out of our control right now but keeping constants in your life like a healthy workout schedule and healthy eating will help you feel more in control. Keep yourself accountable by making a schedule and sticking to a routine.

  • Remember, make exercise enjoyable! Crank up some great music and walk briskly around the house or up and down the stairs for 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times per day.

  • Dance like nobody is watching (because they’re not…they’re at home lol!) to your favorite movie soundtrack.

  • Follow an aerobics class online – so many to choose from!

  • Download a strength workout app or strength training video.

  • Use varying level resistance bands for back, arm, and leg muscle work.

  • Try yoga or mat Pilates– deep breathing and mindfulness can especially target and reduce anxiety.

  • Perform simple muscle strengthening exercises like squats or sit-to-stands with the stability support of a sturdy chair.

  • Do push-ups against a wall, the kitchen counter or the floor, and lunges or single-leg step-ups on stairs.

  • Luke’s advice for beginners: if you're unsure where to start, follow the Training Mate basis; 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off (ex. 45 seconds of squats, 15 seconds rest, 45 seconds sit-ups, 15 seconds rest, 45 seconds push-ups, 15 seconds of rest) and repeat that entire circuit 3 times (4 or 5 if you're more conditioned.) And slowly build off of that!

  • Stand whenever possible, and interrupt long periods of sitting by taking short active breaks during the day. Set notifications on your phone so it’s harder to forget.

  • Gardening, scrubbing the floor, vacuuming and other active chores are a great way to accomplish a few checks off your to-do list while getting your heart rate up.

  • Don’t forget to involve the kids - riding bikes (remember helmets for all), soccer, hide and seek, playing tag, and family dance parties are easy ways to add a little extra movement into your day.  

One of my favorite tips Luke emphasized during our chat was, “Don't compare yourself to anyone else…there's only one you, and everyone is different!” Now, more than ever, we must remember that. There’s no perfect roadmap for navigating everything we’re facing these days but shifting perspective and viewing exercise as a reward instead of a punishment is a great place to start. How well do you feel after a workout? That's a REWARD! I’m guilty of dragging my feet sometimes and I have to remind myself that once I get about 12 minutes into a workout, I realize I could go all day! It's just getting past that 12-minute mark! And that begins with the first few steps!

The combination of isolation and lack of structure we’re experiencing is enough to make anyone struggle with stress-snacking. Staying active right now is so much less about your waistline and so much more about your overall wellbeing. As always, check with your doctor before beginning any kind of intense exercise schedule. For most, small, simple, FUN adjustments woven into your daily routine will help everyone in the house feel better and (most importantly) stay healthier!

With so many of us experiencing fear and isolation, it’s critical that we do everything within our power to remind ourselves that we’re part of a greater community; we really are all in this together, and I hope you never forget A.A. Milne’s wisest words from my heart to yours….“You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” — Christopher Robin

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