How the Pandemic Has Changed Our Exercise Habits

man exercising at homeThe pandemic has changed how we do life in many areas. Perhaps, that’s going from an office to working remotely, not having a job at all, our shopping habits, or how we hang out with friends. The pandemic has also changed how we exercise.

Why Don’t People Exercise?

Exercise doesn’t come easy for everyone but we know that exercise doesn’t just help our physical health. It also improves our mental health.

Here are some reasons people struggle to exercise.

  • You don’t enjoy exercising
  • You keep quitting
  • You can’t afford a gym
  • You’re not seeing any changes
  • You don’t know how
  • You don’t have time

You don’t enjoy exercising

It can be difficult to get motivated to exercise. However, if you can just get started, over time you’ll become stronger and find a routine that fits your lifestyle. There are many different forms of exercise and options.

Sometimes it’s easier if you have some accountability and someone else to exercise with. If having a workout buddy appeals to you, group workouts might be the perfect fit for you. Most gyms offer a variety of classes such as kickboxing, spinning, or strength and circuit training.

Another option might be video games like the Wii Fit Plus and other games like Just Dance. These games make fitness fun and family-friendly.

There are many fitness apps out there as well that you can download on your mobile device. These apps are like having your own personal trainer. They offer workout ideas, track your progress, help you stay motivated and connect to a fitness community.

You keep quitting

Many times people quit exercising because they do too much too soon. You get easily bored by the fitness activities you choose or discouraged by the soreness that happens initially.

Some ways to help you avoid quitting are to:

  • Work with a trainer
  • Change your workouts by trying different things until you find what works for you
  • Avoid skipping workouts

You can’t afford a gym

Gym memberships can be expensive. If you can’t afford a membership there are other ways to get a good workout:

  • Walking or running
  • Purchasing multi-use equipment like an exercise ball, which can be used for core work, weight training, and cardio. Dumbbells are usually inexpensive and can be used for the entire body.
  • Find free resources, such as workout videos and weight loss programs on YouTube, or books on exercise with ideas at your local library.

You’re not seeing any changes

Exercise can become discouraging when you don’t see any changes or improvements like weight loss. Setting goals can be helpful but make sure you’re setting realistic, attainable goals. Be patient and give your body time to react.

You don’t know how

If you’re just starting out, exercise can be intimidating. The good news is there are lots of resources out there. One thing to consider may be working with a personal trainer. If you can’t afford that option or don’t have one available, consider starting out with a free fitness program.

You don’t have time

Sometimes not having enough time is an easy excuse, or sometimes it’s the truth. Therefore, work your exercise time into your daily or weekly schedule. Maybe you will need to get up earlier to take a brisk walk or walk on your 30 minute lunch break. Just keep in mind that exercise will generate more energy and the more energy you have, the more you’ll accomplish each day.

How to Become More Active

During the pandemic, we’ve all been stuck at home.  Many people have started working from home so walking across campus isn’t an option anymore. We’ve also established that exercise can be challenging and the many reasons why people give up, so let’s discuss ways you can become more active while stuck at home or working from home.

I’m stuck at home, now what?

  • Walking or running
  • Take your dog for a walk or run
  • Do some house cleaning
  • Make the most of TV time
  • Move to an audiobook or podcast
  • Yoga

Walking or running

Counting your steps can be fun! It is a great way to track if you’re walking enough during the day. There is all sorts of technology out there to help you track your steps. You should aim for about 10,000 steps a day.

Take your dog out

Maybe you have a four legged friend who also requires exercise. Walking your dog can be good for both of you. Exercising your dog is one way to be held accountable for your activity time. Also, depending on the energy level of the dog, multiple walks or exercise opportunities a day might be best.

Do some house cleaning

House cleaning is one way to stay active. Activities such as scrubbing the tub or vacuuming are a great arm workout. Standing while washing dishes or dusting are ways to keep yourself upright and active.

Make the most of TV time

We all love our TV time. Although sitting on the couch or in a comfy chair isn’t wrong or bad, you can also find ways to be active while enjoying your favorite show. For example, walk on the treadmill or another exercise machine while you watch your favorite show on Netflix. One way to stay motivated is to only watch that show while you exercise.

Move to an audiobook or podcast

For some people listening to an audiobook or podcast while exercising works better. Find a good audio book or perhaps your favorite true crime podcaster and crack the case together while you work out.


Yoga can be very relaxing. It is good for the mind and body. Yoga can relieve stress and anxiety. It can also help improve flexibility and relieve back pain.

I work from home now, what are some exercise options?

  • Walk during calls
  • Don’t sit, stand
  • Set reminder alarms
  • Exercise ball chair

Walk during calls

Zoom calls when you have to be in-person and on camera won’t be the best time to walk. However, while you’re on a one-on-one phone call or conference call take the opportunity to walk around. Over the course of the day, aim for walking 10,000 steps.

Don’t sit, stand

Sitting for long periods of time can contribute to poor posture or back pain. To help with this you could invest in a standing desk or get creative and build a DIY desk by stacking crates or boxes – remember, the chair is the killer!

Set reminder alarms

It’s easy to get so into a project that you forget to move around. Setting an alarm on the hour or every couple hours will help you remember to get up and walk around. This will help break up your day and give you a mental break as well. There are also some apps the send you reminders to exercise.

Exercise ball chair

Yoga ball chairs or using a yoga ball as your desk chair can be a good way to work on your core strength. This will also help your posture and back pain. Just try not to bounce around too much while you are working!

Find the method that works for you

Finally, the pandemic may have changed how we exercise but it hasn’t made exercise impossible. Like many other things over the past year plus, exercise is just one more opportunity to get creative. Just find what works best for you and run with it (no pun intended)!

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