Working out during Covid-19 can help with cabin fever


Eric Henry

Outdoor exercise equipment utilized during Covid-19.

Cabin fever has proven to be a real issue for most of us during this pandemic. We used to head out to go to class or work — now we take online classes and many of us are forced to work from home. 

Days can become quite dull, and if you are struggling to find some release from being cooped up working at home, an exercise routine might be just what you need to liven up your pandemic lifestyle. 

“It’s good to help break up the monotony,” said Michael Caputo, a personal trainer from Revamp Fitness in Lisle. “Finding time for yourself, just 45 minutes or an hour working out, it helps mentally to just get through the day. It’s something to look forward to.”  

But setting up a workout routine can be more difficult during the pandemic. Even though most gyms are back open after the Illinois lockdown, plenty of people are not yet comfortable returning to the public gyms given that there is still the risk of transmitting Covid-19. 

If you are not ready to head back to the gym yet, or if you are a college student living at home without access to your college gym facility, an at home exercise routine might be the best option for you. 

So, you want to set up a workout routine. What is the first step? No matter what types of exercise you are looking to get into, it is important to establish goals and keep with it. Tom Schneider, personal trainer at Anytime Fitness stresses the value of consistency. 

“It’s important to establish consistency,” he said.  “Ideally, you want to be exercising five to seven days a week. If you need to start off your routine doing just three to five days a week, that’s fine, but develop that consistent exercise routine to do on a weekly basis.” So, carve out some time in your weekly schedule for physical activity and stick to it. 

“You should just mainly focus on getting that consistency, week after week, you will definitely see the results and progress,” Schneider added. 

Although gym equipment can aid in exercise, you can get away with working out with nothing but your body weight. Cheryl Nowlin, a personal trainer at Lake Shore Sport and Fitness in Lincoln Park recommends body weight exercises. 

“Planks are an excellent ab workout and there are like a thousand variations on them, you can do alternating shoulder touches or side planks to get variation in your workout,” Nowlin said. “You also can’t go wrong with body weight squats or sit squats.” 

Nowlin also said that you can get creative if you do not have any equipment. 

“If body weight isn’t enough, then grab something heavy like a Tide container and squat with that as weight.” 

Any relatively heavy household item can be used to add some intensity to your workout. If you are looking for more of a challenge, Cheryl says to try HIIT training. HIIT training is high intensity interval training. This can be anything from burpees to jumping rope, to pushups or sprints. 

For those who still want to buy some workout equipment, there is plenty of at-home equipment available to purchase online. But it’s best to be careful when filling your Amazon cart with shiny new exercise gadgets, because in this case less can be more. 

“It’s important for people to find equipment for themselves that they can use safely and effectively,” Schneider said. “You can run into some issues if you’re just buying stuff because it’s what you think you should have. You should know how to use it safely and effectively.”  If you end up purchasing equipment, make sure that it is something you are actually going to use. Start with a resistance band or a jump rope. It is also important to use it properly. An injury can be a disappointing setback for your fitness goals. 

Caputo recommends that at very least, getting up and being active can benefit you physically and mentally. 

“Do something. That is the message I try to convey to everyone,” Caputo said. “Something is better than nothing, whether you are getting out on a walk with the dog… or getting on a bike, even if it’s just a leisurely stroll. Something is always better than nothing.” 

If running a few miles or doing some high-intensity interval training is right for you, go for it. But if it seems like too much at first, then get started with some simple physical activity on a weekly basis. Take a brisk walk or a bike ride. Getting up and getting moving might be the thing that can help to keep you sane while you are stuck at home and it seems like the world is falling apart.