This blog was originally posted on the SFU Recreation site on August 1st 2021.
New year, new me! At the start of each year, many of us make it our goal to get fit and stay healthy. However, with the ongoing pandemic, everyone's fitness plans have definitely hit some bumps in the road. Going to the gym may also no longer be a feasible option for you, making your goal even harder to reach. However, have no fear! Here are 7 easy ways to start working out and stay fit without going to the gym:
People often assume exercise has to occur in a gym setting or intensive workouts that leave us sweaty, but any activity is good activity. Exercise can be any activity that requires physical effort and gets your heart rate up, such as chores. Since I already need to do household chores, I try to substitute more intensive chores, like shoveling snow and gardening, or longer periods of lighter chores for exercise. Sometimes, I will often use chores as a warm-up or a quick activity break during the day. I also like to turn on some music and dance while I clean which allows me to increase the intensity and make cleaning a more enjoyable experience.
If you're hoping to work on your lower body, particularly your glutes, then step-ups are a really great cardio exercise that requires minimal equipment and space. Step-ups combine lunges with a stepping-up movement and can be done with weights to make it harder. If you live in a two-story house, have steps leading up to your front door, or if you live in an apartment building, use the stairs to get your step-up reps in! If you don't have access to stairs, you can place a chair or a stool against the wall to create a makeshift step-up station.
Walking dogs is a great way to stay active and the dogs keep you accountable. As a dog walker and pet sitter, I get out quite a bit, and it has really helped me stay active. There are many different ways to go about doing this. The first is going out for daily walks with your dog and introducing them to some new trails. Unfortunately I do not have a dog which is why I use Rover.com, a dog walking and pet sitting website, that matches owners with sitters. However, if you are not a pet person you can also take a member of your social bubble out for walks instead or talk to a friend while you walk.
Exercising can be lonely. Sometimes I need that extra bit of accountability from a workout buddy to motivate me to keep working out and help me push through. Encourage someone in your household or social bubble to create a workout schedule that works for the both of you. For me, I like to put on a workout video at a set time and get my family members to join me through the exercises. You can also set up regular zoom calls with a workout buddy or workout outside while following the public health guidelines.
Take some time to explore and acquaint yourself with outdoor exercise parks near you. Most outdoor exercise parks offer a variety of aerobic, muscle/strength, core, balance, and flexibility equipment to provide a well-rounded fitness routine. One great example is the Outdoor Fitness Circuit at Central Park in Burnaby. Some other locations in the Tri-cities include: Gates Park, Port Coquitlam, Town Centre Park, Coquitlam, Westhill Park, Port Moody. You can also take advantage of nearby playgrounds to do chin-up reps using monkey bars, inverted rows using ladders, and more.
Online group fitness classes and videos can be a great movement motivator and way to diversify your workout routine. SFU Recreation offers really great free virtual workout classes over Zoom and on YouTube for varying levels of fitness. Through the classes I have gotten the chance to try out some really cool ones, like BollyX Dance, and reach my flexibility goals through the yoga classes. SFU Recreation also has mini workouts and guided mindfulness videos that have been helpful for encouraging me to take activity breaks when I am unable to attend the live classes.
As someone who never really knows what to do when I work out, I find fitness apps to be the easiest solution. There are a ton of free apps available that will guide you through workouts via pre-recorded videos and instructions. Some of my favourites are Keep and Nike Training Club for workouts and Down Dog for yoga. For beginners to exercise programming and for those who want a change in pace, the workout regimens in each app are a great resource!
Working out looks different for everyone. You don't just have to do what everyone else is doing to reach your fitness goals. Try out some new things and figure out what you like and what works for your body and schedule. There are lots of different ways to stay active and remember any activity is good activity!
Beyond the Blog
Check out SFU Rec's new website!