The COVID-19 outbreak is keeping us from the fitness center, but it doesn’t need to prevent us from getting our exercise.

The workout you crushed at the gym can be modified for a home routine. If you didn’t exercise before, starting a program now can control your weight and help chase away the blues. And, treadmills and weight machines aren’t a must to get your heart rate up or strengthen your core.

“The biggest thing is making exercise a priority and creating a routine,” said Sierra Hatler, an Exercise Physiologist at Yavapai Regional Medical Center’s (YRMC) Preventive Medicine and Wellness Center.

Let’s start with your heart. You should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. That’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If a half-hour is too much at one time, divide your workout in two 15-minute sessions for the same affect. Are you new to exercise? Work your way up to 30 minutes a day so you don’t get discouraged or injured.

“This can be something as simple as going for a walk, while social distancing, of course,” Hatler said. “You can give your heart even more of a workout by increasing your pace at different times during your walk.”

Creative Weight-Bearing Exercises

You don’t need weights to do weight-bearing exercises. In fact, you can use your own body weight for squats, lunges and pushups.

“These can be modified depending on your fitness level,” explained Hatler. “When you’re doing pushups, for example, you don’t need to go down as far or you can drop your knees to do a knee pushup. Wall pushups are an option, too.”

If you’re used to more activity, you can combine squats and lunges into a truly heart-pounding series of burpees (a combination squat, push-up and jump).

Ready to increase the intensity of your weight-bearing exercise? You don’t need a set of weights to get the workout you want at home. A milk jug, laundry detergent container, paint can or a bag of rice can substitute for weights. As a start, add three to five pounds to your lunges, squat presses, bicep curls and weighted crunches.

“If you’re more experienced, you can do multiple sets of these exercises and up to 15 reps with more weight,” said Hatler.

It’s important to rotate your workouts to focus on different muscle groups. For example, work your arms one day and your legs the next day.

Your Core is King!

Core exercises train the muscles in your pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen to work in harmony, which leads to better balance and stability. Again, depending on where you are physically, you can use the floor or a chair.

“I like cycling crunches,” Hatler said. “You can lie on the floor, pull your knees into your chest and alternate elbow to knee.”

Doing leg raises from a chair will also improve your core. For a more intense version of this, move to the edge of the chair and add some weight to your ankles (bags of rice work well).

Do you need some instruction? The James Family Prescott YMCA has fitness instructions online, including chair cardio stretch exercises and dance fitness.

“Whatever kind of fitness you choose,” said Hatler, “make sure you enjoy it so you’ll stick with it.”