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Gym Closed? Here Are Some Healthy Alternatives

Mar 23, 2020
Gym Closed? Here Are Some Healthy Alternatives

This information was accurate at the time of publication. Due to the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, some information may have changed since the original publication date.

There are many ways to exercise than going to a gym or participating in a fitness class. You can continue your fitness journey at home or in the neighborhood with these alternatives.

The Outdoors Are Calling

Running and walking is a great cardiovascular exercise and can boost your immune system. It's also an anti-stressor and a mood-lifter that can help you sleep better at night. Whether you are a runner or walker, the benefits still apply. Put those running shoes on and enjoy the spring weather (but don't forget to practice social distancing by remaining six feet away from other runners and walkers).

Hiking and Trail Running

Get away from it all and take advantage of the endless hiking/trail running and mountain biking in Utah. Before you head out, eat a hearty breakfast and snack throughout the day, even if you don't feel hungry. Make sure you know where you're going, let someone know your plans, and be prepared. Your body needs lots of water during physical exertion, especially at higher altitudes. Weather can also be unpredictable in the mountains, so be prepared with warm layers and a raincoat.

How to Stay Active Without Gym Equipment

Biking is a great way to exercise while getting outside to enjoy the scenery. Before you hit the pavement or trail, check your bike for faulty parts and inspect your tires for proper inflation. Stretch before riding, fuel your body with a healthy meal or snack, and hydrate properly. Wear protective gear including a helmet, sunglasses, and gloves.

Drop the Weights and Focus on the Mind and Body

In stressful times, it's good to find a moment to take a break and make time for yourself. Common health benefits of meditation include stress reduction, lower blood pressure, increased immunity, and brain development. You can meditate anywhere and anytime. Meditation can be refined to meet your changing lifestyle and time demands.

Yoga can help decrease stress, loosen tight muscles or joints, increase flexibility, and enhance mental and emotional health. It imposes self-discipline and offers a simple and rewarding way to get in touch with your own vitality.

Ryan Cannon, a physical therapist at University of Utah Health, recommends practicing yoga due to the "mental and physical benefits for someone who is stuck inside."

How to Create Your Own Workout at Home

Cannon also offers advice for creating an "at-home workout" without gym equipment. These are some of his personal favorites.

  • "Front plank and side planks are a great core exercise," Cannon says. "The goal is to hold it for one minute. Depending on your strength, you can either hold the plank on your toes or your knees."
  • Push-ups are great for the shoulders and core. You can also do a tricep push up to work the backs of your arms.
  • Squats are greats for quads and will get your heart rate up.
  • Heel Lifts will work the back of your calves.
  • Crunches will work the abs.
  • Burpees, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and butt kicks. "Two of my personal favorites are burpees and mountain climbers," Cannon says. "If you want to get your heart rate up, do some jumping jacks, high knees, and butt kicks."

Many workouts can be done without gym equipment. After sitting down and writing out a plan, all you need is an open space, a timer, a water bottle, and your body—that's it.

For the Future: Invest in Low-Cost Workout Gear

Dumbbells are good for strength training. There are a lot of ways you can incorporate dumbbells into your exercises for both beginner and advanced exercisers. Various weight options allow exercisers to choose a dumbbell based on their strength ability.

Stability balls are becoming more popular around the office. Muscles are targeted as you work to balance on stability balls. They are great to add intensity to floor workouts and are especially good for working out abdominal and back muscles.

There's a reason why many boxers, wrestlers, and athletes use jump ropes. They target many muscle groups and offers you the complete workout.

Resistance bands can provide muscles with the same workout as a set of weights. It's a great choice for those who want a quick, efficient way to work out, or those who are in need of physical therapy.

Kettlebells are cast-iron cannonballs with a handle on top. They come in various weights and can be used for strength training, cardio, and stretching. They can be used to target various body parts including the core, arms, legs, glutes and back.

Where Can I Find Workouts Online?

At-home workouts and online tutorials are becoming increasingly popular in these trying times. With so many workout facilities closed, gyms are offering free online classes. If you are a member of a gym, check out their social media or web pages for more information.

Also, our friends over at PEAK Health and Fitness are also offering FREE workouts on YouTube.

Health experts say it's important to leave the house for fresh air and exercise. "We're not asking people to shove themselves inside their house and stay there for the next two months," says Emily Spivak, MD, MHS, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at University of Utah Health. "There are ways to get outside."