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Quarantine Fit- Sticking To a Workout Routine During COVID-19

Consider this scenario:

You wake up for the day and get started with your morning. You attend all your online classes, complete assignments, and take little breaks here and there. At some point in your whirlwind of a day, you come across a fitness page on social media or feel a little stiffness in your back because you've been sitting at your desk for hours, and you remind yourself that you wanted to start exercising. You promise to start tomorrow, which then becomes next week, which then becomes...' to be determined'.

Sound familiar?

While I'm sure I don't have to go over the many benefits of staying fit and exercising regularly, I realize that for a lot of us, it's easier said than done- especially when COVID19 has put a major hold on our regular way of life. That's why I want to talk about what we can do to stay fit, even while quarantined.

Make a start

Usually, the hardest part of establishing any new habit is getting out of your head, and into action.

Take some time to look at your schedule and decide when you're going to exercise, and for how long. If you haven't been active for a while, it can be tempting to jump into the deep end, but it's better to start slowly. A good starting benchmark could be 30 minutes, two to three days a week. Then, depending on the type of exercise you prefer and your fitness level, you can decide whether you want to work your way up to something more challenging. You can even start by incorporating smaller bits of movement into your day, like stretching for 10 minutes when you wake up every morning or reminding yourself to get up and walk around periodically.

Another helpful tip is to create an environment that reinforces the behavior you're trying to adopt. Lay out your workout clothes the night before, create a playlist full of lively songs to get you pumped, and perhaps even set a reminder for yourself on your phone.

Do exercises you enjoy

If you shudder every time you think about the 50 burpees, 70 sit ups, and 100 jumping jacks that you have to do, you'll likely never be able to sustain motivation to work out. I understand that not everyone will wake up and look forward to lifting 15lb weights or running a mile every day, especially now- and that's completely fine. Thankfully, exercise can take many different forms- whether that's Zumba, yoga, or taking your dog for a run. Outdoor activities can be a great way to get fresh air and move your body at the same time(while practicing social distancing, of course).

At the beginning of quarantine, I started doing simple 30-minute high-intensity cardio workouts like this in my basement. When I got my hands on some dumbbells and experimented with weightlifting, I realized that I enjoyed this much more, and now I look forward to putting my muscles to the test. It's all about figuring out what works best for you.

Use the resources you have

Even though many gyms are still closed and team sports aren't happening the way they used to, COVID19 has shown us that home workouts are very much a thing- and you don't need a state of the art home gym to do them. Some very effective forms of exercise, like bodyweight training and yoga, involve little to no special equipment. I use the Youtube app on my phone to follow workout videos. Some of the trainers in these videos are good at giving that extra push: when I'm doing tricep kickbacks and starting to burn out at the second to last rep of my final set, it's often the trainer's encouragement that gets me over the finish line.

Track your progress

I think it's important to make working out a mindful process that you're invested in; one that allows you to reflect on your progress and make adjustments based on how your body responds. I log the type of workout I do each day in a calendar, making a note of how my body feels, whether I have any recurring pains and if there are any exercises I'm having trouble with.

It's fulfilling to see physical changes to your body, but these only come with time and consistency. When you're first starting, try to focus on the positive effects you feel, rather than how you look. Regular exercise can improve your mood, help you to sleep better, and even improve your discipline when it comes to other aspects of your life.

Be patient with yourself

You may start strong and then fall off somewhere along the way. There will be days where you don't even make it halfway through your workout, but what's important is that you stay consistent. Start off slow, find what you're comfortable with, and allow yourself to have recovery days. Remember that you're still living through a pandemic, so don't feel pressured to set or achieve any huge fitness goals.

Having said that, I do think that sometimes we need to give ourselves the extra push. In one issue of his newsletter 'Zen Habits', Leo Babauta challenges us to reconsider the way we think about motivation: "We're mistaken in thinking that we need to be motivated to do something. Not everything has to 'feel good' during the process. We don't need to be in the 'mood'". I think this is a principle that can be applied to anything we do in life.

So whenever you start to talk yourself out of a workout, think about it this way: we have 24 hours in a day where everything else comes first, and our bodies do the work for us. I think we owe it to ourselves to take care of them.

Greer Jackson is a Howard University journalism major, computer science minor from Georgetown, Guyana. Her interests range from photography and writing to coding and web design. She considers music an existential need, literature a godsend, and tea a must-have. When her head isn't buried in a book, she's usually behind the viewfinder of a camera or shamelessly enjoying solitary moments of introspection.
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