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Staying Fit During Seclusion

Fitness Expert Provides Simple Exercises to Do at Home

By Liam Farrell

Illustrations of person walking, doing "Superman" exercise, doing push-up, doing squat

Illustrations by iStock/Shutterstock

Jo Zimmerman, a senior lecturer in UMD’s Department of Kinesiology, offered four simple suggestions on how to stay in shape during quarantine.

Working from your kitchen with gyms closed for the foreseeable future can provide some fitness challenges during collective coronavirus seclusion.

But while professional athletes are running high-intensity workouts in apartment hallways and lifting live animals instead of weights, the answers for the rest of us to avoid gaining a “quarantine 15” are more straightforward, said Jo Zimmerman, a senior lecturer in UMD’s Department of Kinesiology who has worked in the health and fitness industry for over 25 years.

“You can do these at 20 years old and you can do them at 90,” she said. “You can do them in your pajamas.”

Zimmerman offered the following four simple suggestions on how to stay in shape—or even get started—for the near future.

Walking illustrationWalking
Going outside for a walk is still allowed under public health orders to stay at home, and it doesn’t require any specialized equipment either. It’s the sort of cardiovascular and warm-up exercise that can be done every day and is adaptable. Need more intensity? Go ahead and run. Is it raining? Stay inside and march or jog in place.

“It looks and feels kind of silly, but you’re at home, so who cares?” Zimmerman said.

Squat illustrationSquats and Lunges
Plopping in a chair is halfway to a lower-body exercise; for a full squat, Zimmerman said, move as if sitting down in a chair, but stand back up after barely touching it. In a lunge, stick one foot in front of the other and crouch down like a curtsy or wedding proposal before going back up.

Like other strengthening exercises, Zimmerman said, these can be done on alternate days.

Push-up illustrationPush-ups and Pull-ups
You can do push-ups from the knees or the toes, but the classic version is a great way to work the chest and shoulder muscles. If you don’t keep elastic bands in the house, finding a good pull-up substitute can be a challenge, but Zimmerman said that a sturdy dining room table works in a pinch: Remove a chair; lie down and scoot yourself most of the way under; grab the table edge; and pull yourself toward the dinner setting.

“It takes a little strategy,” she said.

"Superman" exercise illustrationPlanks and “Superman”
All that sitting in front of a computer takes a toll on the core. Zimmerman recommended holding a plank position, similar to the starting setup of a push-up, for as long as you can. To work out the back, lie prone on the stomach and lift the arms and legs off the floor like the Man of Steel in flight.

“This is the part of us that is always hunched over at our desks,” she said.

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