When you are staying home because you don’t feel well or need to be home otherwise, hanging out on the couch with Netflix can be tempting. While sometimes that’s exactly what we need, if we are home for longer periods of time, we also need to make sure we are finding ways to stay active as much as possible.
Like with any time you start adding new activities into your life, checking with your doctor first is always a good plan. Starting slowly is always best. With IC and pelvic floor issues, keeping activity low impact is also a great idea.
Do some chores.
Many chores burn calories and increase your heart rate. Pick a couple of chores to do each day to keep your house clean and yourself moving.
Cleaning your bathroom burns 200 to 300 calories. Making your bed burns 130 calories, which is the same amount you’d burn while running on a treadmill for 15 minutes.(1) Vacuuming for 30 minutes can burn 187 calories, washing the car can burn 153 calories, rearranging your closet can burn 85 calories, cleaning windows for 30 minutes can burn 167 calories (the same as 40 push-ups), sweeping or mopping for an hour can burn 230 calories and cleaning your bathtub for 15 minutes can burn 90 calories.(3) It’s a pretty good deal when you can stay active, burn calories and get things accomplished!
If you want to kick it up a notch, consider modifying some chores for more of a workout. While unloading groceries, you can get in some strength training by doing extra lifts with your grocery bags or canned goods as you put them away.(1) Another option for strength training is to lift your trash bag as you are carrying it to the garbage can outside. You can do bicep curls with the trash bag in each arm or even just try lifting it a bit to improve your upper body strength.(3) Be cautious with lifting any sort of weight, though, because it can bother your IC symptoms. Start small with maybe a small canned food item or the bathroom trash and work your way up from there. If you are able to vacuum without it bothering your bladder, try doing a few walking lunges as you vacuum to get more of a workout.(3)
Start a new exercise program.
Whether you have a usual exercise routine or are looking to start one, sometimes something fresh can be just what you need to stay motivated to keep moving — especially when you are at home for longer periods. One of the easiest ways to find a new workout is the internet. Try searching for terms like “low impact workout.” You want to look for exercises that will build strength and even get your heart rate up but won’t be too jarring. And, even though you are going for low-impact, be sure to do some warm-up stretching before you begin.(4)
Here are a few options designed to be low impact:
- 10 Minute low-impact cardio workout (with photos and no equipment needed)
- 6 Low-impact cardio exercises in 20 minutes or less (with video clips and no equipment needed)
- 10 Minute morning yoga for beginners (guided video and yoga mat or soft, hard surface needed)
- Yoga for beginners at home (series of guided videos and yoga mat or soft, hard surface needed)
Get active while you’re chatting.
Being at home for long periods of time leaves us wanting to connect with the outside world. While you’re talking on the phone or scrolling through social media, you can challenge yourself to get moving — at least sometimes! Pace around while you’re talking on the phone.(1) You can even use your phone’s step counter/tracker (if it has one) to set and reach daily goals. If you’re scrolling through social media, try putting your phone down on a counter and march in place while scrolling.
Shake your groove thing.
Getting in exercise at home can include things like dancing. Start with a slow song or two for a warm-up and then speed up to peppier songs and move!(1) Dancing gets your heart rate up and can be a good — and fun — cardio workout. It’s also something you can easily include your children or other family members in.
If coming up with your own dance moves just isn’t you thing, consider finding videos online to follow along with.(1) Don’t be afraid to explore new forms of dancing you aren’t as familiar with or have always wanted to try. Belly dancing, for example, is a great low-impact dance that doesn’t require a lot of space or a partner.
Make use of stairs if you have them.
You don’t have to run up and down stairs in order to get a good workout. If you live in a house with stairs and can manage them well, challenge yourself to spend 5 or 10 minutes once or twice a day walking up and down the stairs. Use the banister to keep yourself steady or just use one or two of the bottom steps to go up and down (chances are you have at least one or two steps somewhere in your house, even if it’s a one-story!).(5) Smaller spurts of exercise consistently is better than one long-time workout erratically. Set realistic and doable goals.
Spend some time with your dog.
If you have a dog, hanging out with him or her is a good way to get some movement in without realizing it so much. Of course dogs like to go for walks, which is a great way to exercise. But other ideas for exercising with your dog are throwing a ball, playing tug of war or even just rough-housing with your pooch (carefully and appropriately for your dog’s size and age).
Play a musical instrument.
You seriously can burn calories by playing a musical instrument. While it’s doubtful you’ll shed lots of weight, playing an instrument gets you moving more than just sitting in your comfy chair with your heating pad. Drum playing burns the most calories at 217 an hour. Playing piano or violin can burn 108 calories an hour while playing cello or a woodwind can burn 72 calories an hour.(6)
Have fun with your kids.
If you have young kids at home, they are great for helping you get moving and stay active. Toddlers keep you up and down running around to keep them out of trouble. School-aged kids are at an ideal age for playing games at home. Games like hide and seek may not burn a huge amount of calories, but they get you up and moving, so don’t discount them. Try hula-hooping together or blow up a balloon and challenge each other to keep it in the air without touching the ground. Add in extra balloons for a bigger challenge that will get you moving even more. And even better, having fun with your kids also results in good memories made!
- Dolan M. 3 Ways to Stay Fit at Home. Wikihow. Aug. 8, 2019.
- Mclallen L. 12 Way to Turn Housework into a Workout. Huff Post. Updated March 8, 2017.
- Hovitz H. Turn Household Chores into Legit Workouts. The Healthy. Updated March 11, 2020.
- Davis N. 6 Low-Impact Cardio Exercises in 20 Minutes or Less. Healthline. Sept. 17, 2018.
- Head A. 12 Ways to Stay Fit and Healthy While You’re Self-Isolating. Good Housekeeping. March 17, 2020.
- Nutra Check. Calories Burned Playing Musical Instruments.