Aerobic Walking in Your Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Jim Shimabukuro

COVID-19 is forcing many of us to self-isolate in our homes and apartments, and one of the drawbacks is the reduction or loss of aerobic outdoor walking exercise. We could turn to treadmills, stationary bikes, stair steppers, or other exercise machines, but many of us don’t have them or don’t want them. During our self-imposed isolation, aerobic exercise is still critical to maintaining our health and ability to resist or mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and other viruses. A simple and cost-effective way to work 30-to-60 minutes of walking into our lives is to turn our homes into a walking course.

First, draw or create a mental image of a rough layout of the interior of your home. I live in an apartment, so I’ll use it as an example. For my apartment, there are four long straight-line paths, two short ones (red in the illustration below), and one rectangular path (blue). You may need to rearrange furniture to create these paths.

Second, design a counter-clockwise circuit. The layout of your home as well as types and number of paths will determine the design. Through trial and error, settle on a circuit that’s both easy to remember and lengthy. Illustrated below is a route that takes me about two minutes to complete. 

Third, design a clockwise circuit. I designed a 1-minute 54-second route going in the opposite direction. For a balanced workout, we need to exercise both sides of our body. When the counter-clockwise circuit ends, I turn around and begin the clockwise circuit. I continue this routine until I’m tired, have reached my goal, or have been interrupted by a phone call or other demand.

To keep track of time, I use the stopwatch tool on my Apple watch or leave a stopwatch at the starting point. I press the start button, leave the watch on a desktop, and begin walking. I stop it at the end.

To alleviate boredom or to make the walk more enjoyable, I listen to my portable music player through headphones. I carry the player in my right hand on the counter-clockwise lap and switch it to my left when I begin the clockwise lap. This helps me to remember which circuit I’m on.

Breaking the walking routine to include other exercises is another way to combat boredom. For example, I leave dumbbells on the kitchen counter. Whenever I enter the kitchen, I do 5-to-10 reps, either both sides together or one side per lap. I vary the types of lifts in subsequent laps.

I’ve also inserted pushups, crunches, and other floor exercises into the laps. The variations are endless: stretches, kicks and punches for martial artists, knee bends, jumping jacks, etc.

I’ve also slow-jogged the route, either entirely or alternating between walking and jogging. Short sprint-bursts are also possible on the long straight paths.

I usually complete this walking exercise in the evening in a single session, but I find that breaking it up over the day is a lot more effective. For example, a 20-minute walk on rising in the morning is invigorating. Another 20-minute walk in the afternoon is refreshing. And a final 20-minute walk in the evening is relaxing. However, these times aren’t set in stone. Vary them to suit your needs.

The upside of walking in your home is convenience. You can wear whatever you want and walk at any time of the day, rain or shine, in sunlight or darkness, barefoot or in comfortable socks or shoes. Barefoot is especially relaxing.

You can even set up a circuit in a hotel room if necessary. The circuit will be limited, but you can still get in some aerobics.

If you’ve found other ways to maintain aerobic conditioning in your home or apartment, please share them with us in the discussion section attached to this post.

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