Fitness in the age of COVID-19

Written By Mitchell Drake

Social distancing efforts and statewide stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus epidemic is keeping most people stuck inside their homes. For athletes and gym rats, the closure of many public gyms and pressure to maintain social distancing could prove maintaining fitness to be a challenge, especially those without exercise equipment at home.

However, some are finding effective alternative ways of staying healthy. Amy Rockenstein, 42, of Pittsburgh, is a Scholastic Outreach representative that has been practicing home fitness long before the quarantine began.

Before the quarantine locked her in her home, Rockenstein had attended yoga and cycling classes, marathon training, and had visited numerous gyms since 2009. Last year, Rockenstein stopped attending public gyms after she discovered Beachbody on Demand, a streaming service that offers over 8,000 diverse workout instructional videos. She began watching and following the various programs the streaming service offered and using features on Zoom to connect and exercise with other people in their homes, actively simulating the experience of going to a gym at her own home. For Rockenstein, the quarantine has not diminished her workout nor her spirits.

“I support the current situation to help stop the spread of the disease, but I am going stir crazy,” Rockenstein said.

Rockenstein offered some tips as to how you can form an effective home exercise program. She says that establishing a daily routine that encompasses your whole day to specify when you are going to work out. She also suggests adding short walking breaks throughout your day, being outside or up and down a staircase in your home. Recounting her past success with Beachbody on Demand, Rockenstein advocates following virtual instruction while working out. She also advises to supplement your workout by listening to something uplifting, like motivational development audiobooks or podcasts.

A Business Insider article entitled “How to create an effective full-body workout in a quarantine, according to personal trainers” suggests that burpees are one of the most effective exercises accessible without any fitness equipment. The amount of burpees needed for a full-body workout depends on your fitness level – typically five to ten burpees at a time is “a good starting point” when followed up with push-ups, squats, and mountain climbers. One of the consulted personal trainers, CrossFit athlete Jeff Germond, says that 100 or 150 burpees at a time is a real challenge.

“If your goal is 150 burpees, your goal is to not die. Just finish,” Germond said.

InStyle advocated the use of the J&J Official 7 Minute Workout, an app designed by the director of exercise physiology at Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, which works similarly to the The app offers 22 preset workouts and a library of 72 exercises with audio cues and guided video tutorials that “can be combined for over 1,000 workout variations, so

there’s no way you’ll get bored.” According to InStyle’s article entitled “The Best Workouts to Try While You’re Cooped Up at Home”, the app’s exercises have shown to be effective workouts that can be easily completed in 7 minutes.

Dr. Melina Jampolis of CNN Health stated that people should aim for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day and strength training at least twice a week. Exceeding that will help to prevent weight gain, especially if the exerciser is diabetic or pre-diabetic. Jampolis referenced a research study from 2016 that found one additional hour of sedentary behavior was associated with a decline in immune function, increased risk of heart disease, and a risk of cancer or death.

“With the world feeling a bit out of your control, now is the perfect time to take control of your health by building daily exercise into your schedule,” Jampolis said.