Here to Help: Staying Active

Mar 19, 2020

Dr. Barry McGlumphy, from Cal U’s exercise science and health promotion programs, offers some advice and tips on making the most of extra time and space.

fitness kettlebells

You are home and doing your “social distancing” part – staying away from populations who are at risk for COVID-19, like those with underlying health conditions or those who are over 60.

How can you make the best of it?

We asked Dr. Barry E. McGlumphy, program coordinator for Cal U’s graduate program in exercise science and health promotion, for some tips and advice.

After all, regular exercise and physical activity promotes strong muscles and bones. It improves respiratory, cardiovascular health, and overall health. Staying active can also help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and reduce your risk for some cancers.

“Isolation at home and social distancing does not need to be looked at as a completely negative experience,” McGlumphy said. “Long periods of downtime at home can be used to self-reflect, set personal betterment goals, and improve you and your families’ health and well-being.”

His other pieces of advice:

Prioritize healthy habits.

Most people use “lack of time”’ as their main excuse for not working out and being a healthier person. One silver lining of self-isolating or being assigned to work from home is the increase, sometimes a significant increase, in time to be self-productive. Using the time usually dedicated to that drive to work can add 30-60 minutes of workout time each day.

Make fitness a family affair.

Make it a family affair that will benefit everyone and reduce the fears that many children experience during these unprecedented times. With many families having children home from school for an extended period of time, setting weight-loss and fitness goals is an excellent use of the downtime.

Creating unique physical activity games each day will not only help reduce boredom and anxiety, but it also can lead to significant gains in daily exercise. In fact, 8-12 weeks of daily exercise can lead to a sustained behavior change and may very possibly create a new way of life involving daily exercise, fitness, better nutrition and overall health for all family members.”

Fitness tips.

– Create activities that are fun for the whole family – like a dance contest! Each member of the family gets a chance to create a new, silly dance, then everyone joins in.

– Set up a circuit of exercise stations around the house – running up and down the stairs, doing push-ups and sit-ups, lifting a heavy object or weights, jogging in place, jumping rope or playing an activity-related video game.

– Break out the old exercise tapes or DVDs that you used once or twice and make a commitment to watching them every day.

– Take the kids for a long, fast-paced walk. Be sure to follow social distancing guidelines by staying in groups of 10 or fewer people and finding new areas of your community to explore – park walking paths, rails-to-trails pathways, trails around local ponds or lakes, or even your neighborhood streets.

– Stay socially connected and reduce isolation stress by working out with a friend, or even multiple friends, via FaceTime, Zoom, Portal, Skype or another video conferencing program. Even if you cut the workout short and talk for an extra 15 minutes, you will keep the social interaction that most of us need and crave.

– Even if it is a cold day, take advantage of sunlight by letting your face warm outdoors for 20-30 minutes. This will increase your vitamin D, causing a reduction in stress hormones and ultimately decreasing the sad feeling that many of us experience when we are indoors or isolated for long periods of time.

– Take advantage of fitness programs that allow you to attend a “live” workout from the safety and protection of your own home. Examples include Peloton or Spin bike workouts. Other options include The Class and Mirror, which offer a variety of exercise classes with live instructors and personal trainers. Go to for a list of offerings.