My Favorite Free Ways to Stay Active Without a Gym

Like many states, Minnesota has recently gone on a stricter lock down, closing all gyms for at least a month. Before the pandemic, I was a regular at a boutique fitness studio that combined running and strength for fun HIIT workouts. Unfortunately, there really wasn’t a safe way to conduct those type of workouts now and the gym recently closed for good.

Because I have high risk family members, I have been mostly staying home this entire year. As someone who loves fitness, I’ve tried to be creative with how to challenge myself. More recently, with a knee injury, I’ve had to get even more creative with my workouts! I wanted to share my favorite go-to’s in order to keep staying active during this really challenging time.

Running: As most of you know, running is my favorite form of exercise. Before my injury last month, I have clocked over 1,500 miles already this year. Whether you are new or a seasoned runner, there is always a new challenge. Running is also great for your mental health and gets you spending more time outdoors.

I’ve written a lot of posts about running tips, but the sparknotes version for newbies is to get fitted for a good pair of running shoes, to start slow with run/walks, and to very slowly increase mileage by no more than 10% per week. You don’t want to become injured like me just when you fall in love with the sport! Running also doesn’t always have to be super high intensity. In fact, most of my running is at an easy pace where I could carry a conversation. Of course you want to get faster over time, but you will with just more time on your feet!

Walking: Since I’ve been injured, my go to has been walking. At first, it seemed totally pointless compared to running, but now that it’s been all that I have, I am enjoying it. The benefit to walking is that it’s not as hard on your body, but still can get that heart rate up. You can also enjoy the same benefits of getting out of your house and going outside.

Walking can be anything from a leisurely stroll to a more intense power walk. For me, it depends on the day and how my injury is feeling. Sometimes I can pick up the pace and even break a sweat! These days, I’ve been trying to walk for at least an hour a day, which ends up being a pretty satisfying workout.

Nike Training Club: The NTC app recently made all of their workouts free (people used to pay a lot of money to subscribe to them!). I love their workouts because there are a ton of options to choose from– from yoga and mobility, to HIIT, to targeted strength work. The workouts are best if you have a mat and some weights, but they also tell you how to modify. A lot of the workouts are a video with a trainer, which I always find much more engaging than just doing it alone!

They also have different free programs that will train you for a series of weeks. It gives you workouts for each week and the same trainer guides you through them with tips and ticks. I just finished a 4 week strength series and started a new 6 week strength + HIIT series. I find it helpful to have some structure and not having to think about what to do each day! I’ve also seen changes to my body tone which is exciting!

Get Creative: Since I spend a lot of time just staying home now, I also look for other ways to get up and get my body moving. It’s really easy to just become glued to a couch and never move again! Some ways to stay active might be raking leaves or mowing the lawn, washing a car, washing the windows on your house, or doing other landscaping. These are the jobs that are never fun, but if you think of them as another way to get up and get moving, you might actually enjoy them more!

Also consider things like taking your kids to a park, playing soccer in the back yard, or going ice skating and sledding for those of us in colder climates. You don’t have to do an intense workout to stay active every day!

If you feel like you’ve fallen off the wagon, challenge yourself to try one of these activities each day and see how it makes you feel! With not being able to run, this last month has been a challenge for me, but I’m happy that I have stayed positive and keep reminding myself to just control WHAT I can control this year!

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