Don’t Neglect Physical Activity in Lockdown


Uch. You roll over, blurry-eyed. You check the time (insert your wake-up time). Perfect. One more snooze. Ding! Your snooze alert startles you out of a deep sleep. You press it with the intention of dozing just a little longer but (insert child’s name, business name, pet’s name) reminds you that although we are in isolation, someone needs you awake.

You throw on a pair of sweats/tights/leggings/sleep pants/ shorts and pour a cup of (insert your morning vice) and start your day, which is eerily similar to the one before and the one before that. It is hard to stay focused on health and fitness when one day seemingly rolls into another. With so much to balance these days, the best you may not be showing up. 

As a personal trainer and fitness coach for over 20 years, I have learned a few things about people’s love/hate relationship with working out and why it’s so important to maintain the love part during times like these. 

First, be kind to yourself. We are in extraordinary times. We are balancing work/life/kids/isolation/desperation and mental health as best we can. If your regular fitness routine has slowed or ceased, don’t beat yourself up. It’s not too late. We know that exercise is good for the body and soul especially in times of strife and uncertainty. Feel-good endorphins and increased blood flow help regulate mood, which is undeniably important. So here are few ways to get going or to help you continue on your way. 

Set a schedule. Planned workouts are like meetings for your body. If it’s scheduled, we are more likely to keep the appointment. If we wake up and say at some point, “I will,” then something will always get in the way. If we wake up and say, “from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. or at 5:30, I will work out,” we are more likely to stay committed to exercise.

If you miss your scheduled workout, you must throw out the notion that exercise can only come in the form of going to the basement and logging hours on a machine. When you’re home with the kids and just being alone in the washroom uses up all your personal time, you have to get creative. Ride a bike, walk, rollerblade or play a game of catch to boost your heart rate. Fifteen jumping jacks between hopscotch turns, squats while waiting your turn in basketball, five push-ups at the top of each flight of stairs, and sprints with your kids are all good ways to sneak in some fitness through the day.

Be accountable. Get a friend, a trainer, get in a class – just get something that helps make you accountable. I have found that when my clients have sessions booked, they are less likely to cancel due to work, family or “I don’t want to.” A friend waiting for a socially distant walk will hold you to the walk. Most things are better when done as a shared experience.

Set a goal. “This week I will start a running program. I will maintain my weight through COVID. I will get 12,000 steps a day. I will go for a 30-minute lunchtime walk each work day.” Any goal will do. Just make one and strive for it. When you succeed, set another. If you don’t, luckily, we have nothing but time at the moment to achieve it.

Get outside as much as possible. The fresh air is a super complement to actual physical activity. Backyard workouts can be just as rewarding as those using basement machines, as the chirping birds and brisk air can help remind us that things won’t always be like this.

Vicki DePass has been a personal trainer and fitness coach for 21 years.