Tips for Staying Active During Self-Isolation and COVID-19

**By Priya Kanwar, MD and Bandana Sharma, MD**

Self-isolation during this pandemic can take a heavy toll on one’s mental and physical well-being. Many of us are still figuring out our new routines and being confined to a single space doesn’t help, particularly if it’s small, cramped or shared. Some of us are probably feeling completely helpless or hopeless. One of our best defenses to these low feelings and feelings of defeat is to stay physically active.

Activity strengthens both body and mind, releasing endorphins – or “feel-good” chemicals – that naturally relieve pain and boost well-being. Exercise increases immunity, while reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases. It improves mental health, helps with sleep and is shown to even reduce depression.

Though exercise is beneficial all of the time, it can be harder to do during quarantine. Here are five ways you can stay active and engaged while quarantining at home during COVID-19:

Create a home gym area

Exercising with children during self-isolation and COVID-19You don’t need a lot of space or things to create a home gym. Identify an area that is at least the size of an exercise or yoga mat to do simple body weight exercises, like push-ups and sit-ups. Add in weights, bands and any other items you might have lying around. Get inspiration from free online videos and other apps on your phone or computer. Join a challenge or fitness club to stay motivated virtually.

Go for a walk

Brisk walking is a moderate intensity aerobic exercise that is safe for most people. In Washington state, we are allowed to walk outside in our neighborhoods if we uphold social distancing measures. We have many beautiful parks and trails in the area that you can take advantage of (be sure to pay close attention to current closures). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least six feet between you and others.

Stand up!

While most of us are spending more time at home, try to stay moving and avoid being sedentary by setting up a plan. For example, stand up and walk or move around for five minutes for every hour you are sitting. If you’re working from home, consider investing in a standing desk.

Do household chores Gardening is a good activity during self-isolation and COVID-19

Household activities such as mopping the floor, scrubbing the tub, gardening or even walking up and down the stairs can, surprisingly, be a great cardio workout. Next time you’re cleaning, stay mindful that it can double as a workout.

Take care of your mind

Numerous studies show meditation and mindfulness help with reducing stress and anxiety. Phone apps can be helpful for those just getting started.

A few notes about safety:

We advise that you avoid crowded areas and public playgrounds during this time. The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face masks in public settings if social distancing is difficult to maintain. Keep this in mind when you’re engaging in outdoor activities like walking, jogging or biking. Also, avoid touching your face during workouts – wash hands frequently, and disinfect all equipment and surfaces before and after a workout.

It’s as important as ever to rest, exercise, eat balanced meals and be kind to one another. Remember, this is a temporary phase and will pass. You got this!

Priya Kanwar, MD is an internal medicine doctor who practices at Virginia Mason Medical Center at University Village. Dr. Kanwar specializes in internal medicine and primary care. She is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and is a member of the American College of Physicians.

Bandana Sharma, MD, is a primary care doctor who practices at Virginia Mason Medical Center at University Village. She specializes in primary care, preventive medicine and adolescent care. She is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. Dr. Sharma is a member of the American Academy of Family Medicine.



  1. Great tips; thank you!

  2. templedayspa says:

    These are great tips. I also think getting a great nights sleep is also critically important as it helps us to be more active when we are awake!

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