Eaton: Staying active, despite the shutdown

As COVID-19 regulations get a move on, make sure your body does too.


by Emily Eaton

If you’re anything like me, entering Minnesota’s second lockdown doesn’t change a whole lot about how you live your everyday pandemic life. Except, it does. I don’t go out to eat or see people regularly or go to bars, but I do hit the gym nearly every day. Whether it’s my apartment gym or a journey to the Rec, I rely on those exercise endorphins as a way to keep my stress levels low and my mental health in check.

But, I’ve encountered an obstacle much bigger than gym closures. During the warmer months, getting my heart rate up outside was an easy alternative to lifting heavy indoors. But according to my weather app, it felt like 12 degrees this morning. I got my workout in just trying to layer up enough to stay warm before heading out. While running may have filled gym closure-induced gaps in my workout routine during the summer, it’s certainly not the path of least resistance come winter. So, I have engaged in some very serious and intensive research and found limited equipment, accessible, free home workouts to get your heart pumping (and get the people who live below you wondering what the heck is going on). Here are my recommendations:

My absolute favorite fitness guru with free, no equipment workouts is Sydney Cummings. A National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, she offers a wide range of videos, from strength training to tabata and even stretching guides. Though some of her workouts use weights, she always offers a body weight modification. Best of all, the focus is always on how you feel, not how you look. Too often, trainers use physical appearance and image as motivation for pushing through a difficult workout. That’s not an issue with Sydney — her encouragement is all based on growing your strength, speed, endurance and overall health.

If you’re looking for something a little more out of the ordinary, check out the Nate Bower Fitness channel. A boxing instructor and personal trainer, Nate’s workouts are fast-paced and fun. Best of all, you don’t need any equipment. Personally, boxing is one of my favorite ways to get my heart rate up. Putting my mind and body into every move not only results in an amazing workout but provides a mental break from the crazy world we live in.

After long days of sitting at your desk, it’s important to give your brain (and body) a break. Yoga with Adriene has become my absolute go-to whenever I’m feeling bleh. Adriene has a broad variety of videos, from long vinyasa flows to get you in the zone to quick and easy stretches for your study break. She also offers videos specifically catered to people with disabilities and chronic pain. Yoga uniquely combines mindfulness, breathing techniques and poses to leave you less stressed and more relaxed. Adriene’s calming presence and emphasis on tuning in to your body only adds to this. Bonus points: her dog, Benji, often joins the yoga party.

That’s only a small sampling of the multitude of online workouts available out on the internet. Personally, I like lower impact, faster paced workouts, so I can sweat without disrupting my neighbours or my roommates. But, everyone is different, especially when it comes to movement. Listen to your body and choose what makes you feel good. Keeping your body active is key to mitigating the negative mental health effects of social isolation and the winter blues. Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve cognitive functioning and self-esteem. While I can’t guarantee that a yoga video a day will keep the failing of your finals away, it might put you in a better position to succeed academically and professionally.