exercise during self-isolation

  • when my exercise routine was extreme I was OVERWEIGHT
  • moderate exercise during self-isolation helps you reach your happy weight
  • 3 ideas to help you exercise during self-isolation or anytime you can’t go to a gym

Our gym shut down almost 3 weeks ago to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If this happened over the decade I was 30 pounds overweight, I would have panicked!!!

…The whole time I was preoccupied by dieting I had TERRIBLE eating and exercise information. So I thought I had to exercise at least an hour a day—and more if I ate something I regretted. (Now I know over-exercising slooows down your metabolism.)

Whether I had the flu, it was Christmas or I’d been hiking all day… my anxiety was high until I did my EXACT exercise routine on my trusty Nordic Track.

exercise during self-isolationBut for the last 20+ years I’ve had a MODERATE exercise routine (that follows national guidelines) and I’ve been a healthy weight.

Coincidence or conspiracy?

Let’s shut those rumors down right now!

A healthy body and mind is entirely down to a healthy eating and exercise routine—a routine that’s flexible so you can roll with whatever’s happening, including a pandemic that REQUIRES social distancing.

(Anyone else watch tv and think… omg they’re standing too close!? I’ve been playing 5 minute clips of FRIENDS on YouTube anytime I need a break and I keep thinking: Monica, move away from Rachel! So strange how quickly we can fall into a new normal.)


How do I exercise during self-isolation?

Well first here’s how I’ve been exercising for the last 20+ years I’ve been healthy:

Each week I do three, 25 minute workouts on the elliptical machine
while holding hand weights (2 pounds each)
so I can do aerobic & strength exercise all at once.

Also I walk my dog, Rocky.

Hitting the town in our trainers, wellies, winter boots or Birkenstocks is our FAVORITE thing to do. It’s so important to be physically active EVERY day of the week.

Walks at this time of year are so reassuring.

You can literally see nature bursting through winter’s detritus and coming back to life.

Here’s what we saw this morning:

greenery pushing through

And I only started noticing the constant change (vs. 4 distinct seasons) when we began fostering Rocky, who loves a sniffy walk.

But due to COVID-19… some things had to change.

Here’s how I exercise during self-isolation

I have bad knees due to YEARS of over-exercising 🙁

That’s why I LOVE the elliptical machine. The circular motion means there’s no impact.

But now that I don’t have access to the gym (cue violin playing) my COVID-19 exercise routine has been:

Running around the block twice, every other night.

And I run as fast as I can.

It feels so good to get my heart rate up!

Rocky and I also hit the street a few times a day for a walk. (We don’t have a back yard!)

walk every day

What you wear is down to you. But wear something you feel great in! Make your city’s streets your runway. Too often I default to all black clothing. Stop disappearing into the woodwork. You’re not meant to be a wallflower.

Now if you’re thinking my COVID-19 exercise routine is a d-r-a-s-t-i-c decrease from how I’ve been working out the last 20+ years, you’re right!

My exercise during self-isolation routine isn’t perfect

But the amount I’m moving my body is more than ok!

For one, this decision was all about risk management.

I don’t know how long the lock down will be in place. And I’d rather run less “over the long run” (!) than hurt my knees and not be able to run at all.

And secondly…

Do you remember that blog post I wrote a little while ago?

It was all about how we get through the day by pushing buttons on the:

  • garage door
  • car window
  • store door
  • tv remote
  • elevator door

& so on. Rather than getting off our butts and USING our bodies?

Well the BIG take-away from that post was an important scientific study that discovered:

Some exercise is almost as good as the PERFECT amount.

I’m going to say it again louder for the people in the back:

Some exercise is almost as good as the perfect amount

Yup, it’s true!

Check out this graph to see the pictorial results of the study:

The Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee’s 2018 Scientific Report

I’ve been doing my drastically reduced exercise routine for 3 weeks and all my clothes still fit!

And here’s that blog post again if you want to read more about it.

There are HUGE benefits to exercise even if you only move your body a little.

Why I love how I exercise during self-isolation

Whether you’re a beginner (don’t really exercise) or a total PRO, you can get so much out of my COVID-19 exercise during self-isolation routine.

Everybody can transport their bodies around the block once or twice.

The key is to start.

If you can’t sprint then run. And if you can’t run, then walk.

Before you know it you’ll be able to go faster and faster.

Speed walking will become light jogging and soon you’ll be able to run.

This could take a few weeks. And each improvement will be so rewarding!

They goal is to get your heart pumping and the speed you need to do that will be different for everybody (depending on your current level of fitness).

get your heart rate up 3 times a week

Right now is the PERFECT time to start if you’ve been putting off making exercise part of your regular routine.

Exercise during self-isolation is good practice

Whether the world’s in lock-down or:

you’re on vacation,
away for business
or staying at your boyfriend’s parent’s house…

You’ve got to be flexible and find ways to get your body moving WITHOUT access to fancy equipment.

When you go out to get your heart rate up—whether you’re doing the Kelly-bad-knees-2-blocks or going for a 25 minute jog, all you need is a pair of running shoes and what God gave ya!

Your beautiful body.

Throwing a pair of running shoes into an overnight bag is such a great way to be active a-n-y-w-h-e-r-e. And running around a new neighborhood or city is a great way to get familiar with a place that’s new to you.

Life will come back to normal and we’ll all be able to get out and about again. xo

While I was at my Shrimp Club meet-up in New York City this past January (feels like a long time ago), Alex hit up Central Park in his trainers and ran around the park.

exercise during self-isolation - Central Park New York - source wikipediaphoto by: Anthony Quintano from Hillsborough, NJ, United States – source wikipedia (cc 2.0)

It was Alex’s favorite memory of the trip.

I thought he was awesome for lacing up and getting out.

Just make sure you warm up your head (neck) shoulders, knees and toes (ankles) before you walk or run to prevent injury.

Be flexible. You don't need fancy equipment to exercise

Here’s some more workout ideas to do while social distancing…

Exercise during self-isolation: got a skipping rope?

Skipping puts less stress on your ankles, knees and hips than running. And skipping gets your heart pumping, strengthens your lower and upper body and of course burns energy.

Ten minutes of jumping rope can roughly be considered the equivalent of running an eight-minute mile.— Science Daily

Skipping in your house, on your balcony or in your backyard for 10 minutes is roughly the same as running around the block twice. And 10 minutes is roughly 3 songs.

I love this heart-pumping activity, because skipping only requires running shoes and a rope. So you can get your whole family involved.

A skipping rope is also easy to slip into a backpack or briefcase if you’re heading out of town.

To start, try skipping 25 or 50 times in a row. Then stop and see how you feel. Work up from there slowly to prevent pulling muscles you don’t usually use.

Exercise during self-isolation: how ’bout a hula hoop?

Again, if hula-hooping is a new activity for you, ease into it.

Both skipping ropes and hula hoops can be ordered online when you’re limited to other shopping options during self-isolation. And there’s tons of DIY videos on how to make your own skipping rope!

Two summers ago I got a weighted hula hoop at a craft fair/farmer’s market with my aunt.

I started using it on our roof… until I discovered that Shawn Mendes lives above me and that he was home for the summer… (Sometimes at lunch we hear him sing.)

Ok, so being self-conscious isn’t the real reason I stopped. Or should I say, wasn’t the only reason 😉 I just got busy and was going to the gym for my regular exercise.

So I’m excited to experiment with alternatives to the elliptical machine over the next few weeks.

And I’ll keep you posted if hula-hooping becomes part of my exercise during self-isolation routine. (Shawn’s in Florida right now so the chances are better.)

Kelly with hula hoop

*Please overlook the state of our roof… everything’s still on its side so the ceramic won’t crack during the winter.

Why you need to exercise during self-isolation MORE than ever

Self-isolation is a difficult and even scary time for many… whether you:

  • are alone
  • have been impacted by an abrupt loss of income
  • or have a loved one who’s ill

Sometimes doing what you least feel like doing is exactly what you need to do.

Now more than ever it’s important to get outside, move your body, clear your mind and look for signs of spring.

Exercise (and sleep) are natural medicine for your body and mind.

And social distancing doesn’t mean ignoring everybody!

I found I was doing it too 🙂

Then yesterday, while on a dog walk, we yelled out to a couple who had this gorgeous wood camper van and ended up having a great conversation more than 2 meters apart.

And today we were walking and a little sister and brother yelled out to me “we love your shoes”! (I got them at a second-hand store in London more than 20 years ago!) These kids seriously made my day.

Kelly and her green shoes!

Note to self:
Wear green shoes more often.

(The above photo was for something else but Alex said it was too dark and dreary… give nature a few more weeks).

So get yer chin up! And get outside (if you’re able to where you live).

Drag all the people you’re self-isolating with along with you. And find someone who you can compliment from a safe distance.

Love is a good-kind of contagious.

Make Today Count

make today count - the10principlesMake going for a walk at least once a day a non-negotiable—no matter what’s going on in the world.

It will help you make healthier food choices and also sleep better.

Some experts suggest you walk after breakfast just like you’re heading to school or work.

Get outside and see what’s growing out of the ground. Hope springs eternal.

If you’re reading this blog post there’s still time to get a 5 or 10 minute walk in today before you go to bed.

Remember… some exercise is almost as good as the target amount.

Build healthy eating and exercise habits. A healthy weight will follow.

exercise during self-isolation - summary

Next Steps

Walk away from the tv… and decide what heart-pumping activity you want to try first. Get out the equipment you need. Socks, deodorant, running shoes, skipping rope… and set them aside. Then pick your favorite time to do it. I love running late a night when nobody’s around (Alex & Rocky stand in the park to make sure I’m safe). You might like exercising first thing in the morning to see the sun come up and get it done before you shower to save time.

How ’bout making a dance routine to a song? That’ll get your heart rate up!

Exercise during self-isolation. It will be your salvation.

And remember: I can’t regret what I have done, it’s the past that makes me who I am.
-The Stumbellas

Disordered eating stems from beautiful traits.
Break the dieting cycle
by focusing on making healthy choices
& redirect all that you are toward something you love.

Change is all about progress… not perfection!

Many people are using this time “stuck at home” to Marie-Condo their house. But keep in mind house work is also a great way to get your heart pumping.

What are you doing to exercise during self-isolation? Using cans of beans as weights? How are you getting creative? One reader told me she’s doing yoga and fitness classes online. Awesome!

Kelly Clark



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