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10 Ways to Stay Sane and Active While Social Distancing by Julie Singh

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By: Julie Singh

A woman practices yoga poses in a botanical garden

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

Founder of TripOutside Julie Singh gives us a few tips for staying physically and mentally active while social distancing.

There’s no denying that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has put a stop to almost all outdoor activities. With increased home quarantines and social distancing measures, cancelling outdoor adventures has become the new norm. This may leave you bored, anxious, and searching for ways to stay fit. We feel ya! That’s why we’ve put together this guide with ways to stay sane and active during the pandemic.

How to Deal with a Complete 180 of Your Lifestyle

Reet and Julie Singh sit lakeside near their RV

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

To give you a quick background on us, Reet and I travel full-time, most of it in an RV exploring top outdoor destinations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. We spend part of almost every day mountain biking, hiking, paddleboardingkayaking, snowboarding or rock scrambling.

Needless to say, our lifestyle and our company revolve around recreating in the outdoors. 

When we’re not in the RV, we take an international trip to India for a few months every year (typically in winter), as that’s where Reet was born and raised. We love to visit family, eat incredible Indian food, experience and learn from the culture, and expand our initiatives to help the stray dogs of India (our other passion aside from the outdoors). 

This is where we are now, as of March 25th, 2020. STUCK, INDOORS. 

That’s right, India instituted a mandatory curfew (the strictest version of a lockdown) across the entire country a couple of days ago.

This means we literally cannot leave our house past our driveway. Our worst nightmare…but also 100% necessary.

So, we’re trying to make the most of it and practice acceptance. We believe the Indian government is actually doing the right thing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and is taking this threat to the people of India very seriously.  

So, to help you cope (and perhaps even flourish!) during this time, we want to share our top tips for keeping our sanity and what we’re doing to stay active during coronavirus.

Benefits of Staying Active and Getting Outdoors During a Quarantine Period

A woman stretches outside on the pavement

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

Boredom is not the worst part of being stuck indoors. Staying indoors for an extended period can cause lethargy, restlessness, disrupted eating habits, fatigue, and moodiness. Spending all of your time indoors can even cause a weakened immune system – something we all definitely want to avoid during this crazy time. 

See, breathing in the fresh air and receiving a healthy dose of Vitamin D from sun exposure can help strengthen our immune system.  

Physical activity is also very important for both your body and your mind. Studies show that staying active will help you manage your weight, lower blood pressure, strengthen bones and muscles, and recover from illness faster.

Additionally, exercise is a proven mood booster, reducing depression and anxiety, decreasing stress, improving sleep, and brain function. All things that we could all use a bit more of at this present moment! 

But how can you enjoy getting outdoors safely while on quarantine or social distancing?

Ways to Stay Active & Get Outdoors Without Leaving Your House

Julie and Reet exercise on their lawn in India

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

Since we’re homebound for at least the next 21 days, we’ve had to get creative around spending time outdoors and ways to stay active during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The good news is there are more resources than ever before, as gyms, studios, and workouts are being added to the internet constantly to keep up with the online demand. Even better news: many of them are free!  

A quick visit to YouTube alone will reveal a thousand and one home workout routines that’ll help kick your butt and build you some abs before the quarantine is lifted. Below we also list some top gyms and studios that are also offering free online workout classes.

Workout in Your Backyard

No need to worry about going to a gym – they’re mostly closed now, anyway. Your backyard is waiting. Hanging out in your backyard will help you get that fresh air, sun, and outdoor exposure necessary for your immune system. Working out in the backyard will help you emerge from the quarantine with those abs you’ve always wanted.

Here are some top gyms, yoga studios and other resources that are offering FREE online workouts!

Or, create your own workout with lunges, squats, burpees, or your other favorite routines.

Sustain Your Mind and Body with Yoga

While in India, I was planning on becoming a certified yoga instructor. I started my course in Goa and was only a week in when things started getting a bit crazy in India.

Cases started piling up, states started shutting down, and a full lockdown was looking more and more likely.  I decided to fly back to Reet in Chandigarh just two days before they halted all domestic flights and am now continuing my practice as much as possible. I absolutely loved my time at Trimurti Yoga and can’t wait to go back once this is all over. 

Practicing yoga is a great way to stay active while social distancing. Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn, or a seasoned yogi, here are some online resources for your yoga practice. All you need is a yoga mat!

A woman sits on a yoga mat with her arms and legs crossed

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

Avoid Extreme Activities

These confusing days shall pass and you’ll have all the time in the world to begin a new activity or practice your favorite extreme sport if you so desire. However, right now you wouldn’t want to risk hurting yourself and having to make a trip to the hospital.

Opting for more simple, safer activities and ways to stay active is also a great way to help ease the problems of an already overwhelmed hospital.  It’s the responsibility of everyone to avoid taxing medical facilities any further. France has even banned recreational cycling because of limited healthcare resources and the risk of injuries.

Create a Workout Challenge with Friends

A man does push-ups

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

Feeling bored or unmotivated with your fitness routine at home?  Kickstart your motivation by creating a burpee, jump rope or squat challenge online with friends or family.  Match or beat each others’ daily activities to keep your body fit and the fun going. Practicing a new behavior every day will also help you develop better habits.

Using a tracking device like your FitBit or apps like Strava can help you measure progress and report it to other participants easily. Don’t forget to celebrate your success in completing the challenge with a virtual high-five, and a plan to celebrate in-person once we’re passed this!

Take Your Pet For a Walk

A long-haired brown and white dog goes on a stroll through the neighborhood

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

Pets need outdoor exposure as much as humans do. Just like their owners, pets can be quite irritable when they’re not allowed to stretch their legs outdoors.

Follow our guidelines below for leaving the house first, and check on your local government’s quarantine rules. If it’s allowed, take your pet for a quick walk around the block. I’ll not make your pet mentally and socially healthier, it’ll help you burn some calories, too! 

Make sure to follow precautions though. Wear a face mask and gloves, and get rid of any disposable gear as soon as your walk ends for added safety. 

Have a bottle of hand sanitizer next to the door to rub down before you come indoors, change your clothes and shower as soon as possible, especially if you have others living in the house with you. 

Allow the recommended 6-feet of distance between you and other people you may encounter, and under no circumstances should you leave the house if you’re feeling unwell.

Beautify Your Garden

A salad made with homegrown produce

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

Gardening isn’t only a great way to stay moving and keep your mind occupied, but a vegetable garden can help care for your food needs while you’re in isolation! Gardening is another great way to get vitamin D, boost your mood, lower the risk of dementia, and combat loneliness.

Spring is the perfect time to start digging out those weeds and prepping for a beautiful flower or vegetable garden that extends all summer long.  

How can you get started? Add seeds to your next grocery list (even better, have them delivered) and allocate a section of your yard to your new garden. Here is a list of things you can grow quickly during quarantine!

Camp At Home in Your Backyard

An orange tent under the starry night sky

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

Are your kids getting antsy indoors? Missing that camping trip you had planned? One great way to bring the outdoors to them is to take a camping trip to the backyard! 

You may not get the full experience, but you can still make it a memory of a lifetime. Pack up everything you need to spend the night (or weekend) outdoors, set up tents, hammocks, camp chairs, a fire (if it’s allowed in your neighborhood), tell stories, and sleep under the stars.

One day, you’ll tell the story about the time you camped in the backyard because you were under lockdown.

It’s also a great way to teach kids about flexibility, acceptance, and making the best of disappointing situations.

Challenge Your Brain and Stay Sane


A woman meditates on a pier by a lake during golden hour

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

This is by far Reet’s favorite activity lately. Although Reet has been meditating for a few years now, he has always thought he’d like to do longer periods or even go to a guided meditation or Vipassana at some point. That someday is now.

Instead of filling his newfound free time watching the news, he’s decided to extend his meditations. Rather than doing 10 to 15-minute sessions, he’s attempting 45 to 60-minute meditations and hopefully longer as he develops his practice. 

New to meditation? Resources abound for beginners to meditation. Reet started his practice using Headspace, which has a 10-day free trial and hundreds of guided meditations through their monthly paid plans. 

A free favorite of mine is Insight Timer, which features practically endless guided options by experienced mindfulness teachers, plus sound healing, talks, and music.

If there’s one thing we all need right now, it’s patience. One of the best ways I’ve found to practice patience is meditation. A saying that I take comfort in is: “This too shall pass.”

Learn a New Skill

A man plays the acoustic guitar

Source: 10 Ways to Stay Sane & Active While Social Distancing | Trip Outside

Have you always wanted to learn a new language? Become more competent at maintaining your own bike or outdoor equipment? Master a new instrument? Now’s the time!

I’m working on learning Hindi while we’re quarantined indoors, and Reet is working on increasing his fluency in written Punjabi. Apps like Rosetta Stone and Duolingo offer easy ways to learn or re-learn a language and challenge your brain during this quiet time.

And in case you’ve been living under a rock, YouTube is the king of 101 EVERYTHING. Learn to maintain or rebuild your bike and save some money in the process! Or dust off that old guitar and learn (or re-learn) to play!  There are endless things to learn from others on YouTube. It’ll keep your boredom at bay, and challenge your brain in the process.

Need inspiration for new skills you’d like to learn? Udemy has over 100,000 online courses with expert instruction on topics like business, design, photography, marketing, and personal development.

Stay Connected With Friends and Family

Just because you’re stuck indoors doesn’t mean you have to be a hermit.  Take time to connect with family and friends over FaceTime or phone calls.

Staying connected with the outside world is important right now, and talking to others helps combat depression and loneliness. 

This is especially important for those over 70-years-old who are isolated. Check-in with grandparents and other elderly friends and family at least every other day.

Leaving the House

We say don’t do it.

Even though we’re a travel and outdoor company, we don’t recommend traveling at all right now. We truly believe that staying inside your house and yard is critical to stop the spread of COVID-19. 

Flights have been suspended completely in India, both domestic and international. We know that flights are still running in the U.S. but we highly recommend not traveling unless it’s an absolute emergency.  

Many of our outdoor shops are shut down during this period to stop the transmission of COVID-19, and even some of our destinations are shutting completely to tourists (e.g. Moab).  We recommend spending this time planning out your next outdoor adventure and choosing dates at least several months out. Even road trips are risky at this point.

The most responsible thing to do is not to travel, stay put and perhaps explore locally if you’re allowed and it’s safe to do so.

Before Exploring Locally, Check Your Local Government’s Rules

In India, we can’t leave the house unless it’s an emergency… and we believe it’s for good reason.  

Governments are cracking down when it comes to ensuring that social distancing is followed. Before leaving your house, make sure you’re not going to have a brush with the law by checking your local government’s rules on quarantine and social distancing. Quarantine provisions can be different for every state – outdoor activities can be considered non-essential trips – so it pays to check. 

If You Decide to Go Out, Preparation is Key

Getting outdoors during the pandemic isn’t just different because the streets are deserted. You should take precautions to protect yourself and others from transmission of the virus. CDC guidelines explain how to best protect yourself and others, including washing hands frequently, maintaining appropriate distance from others, and staying home if you’re sick.

During this pandemic, you can never be too safe or complacent. Don’t forget to include an alcohol spray or a bottle of hand sanitizers when heading to the outdoors. You might mindlessly touch metal railings and hold on to different surfaces.

Having an alcohol spray or sanitizer ready wherever you go can allow you to enjoy outdoor sports during the COVID-19 can help reduce the risk of contraction and transmission.

If you do see other people outdoors, make sure you are allowing the recommended six-feet of distance between you to prevent transmission. Symptoms can take many days to show up, so keep your distance from everyone – even people that appear very healthy.

Make sure you don’t leave your house if you’re feeling unwell. Social distancing is meant to flatten the curve of the effects of the virus. When you’re not feeling your best, stay at home. 

Staying indoors is an important mandate we ALL need to follow, but there are ways to still give our body the energy and vitality it can get from staying active and getting some fresh air. By following the rules, being extra careful, and getting a little creative, you can stay sane and active amidst this period of social distancing.  

About the Author: Julie Singh

Julie is passionate about outdoor adventure, wildlife, and conservation. She spends her free time mountain biking, hiking, paddle boarding, and snowboarding.

She also loves to challenge herself with new outdoor adventures. Julie spent 15 years in Retail, Merchandising and Finance, leading teams and growing large businesses before she co-founded TripOutside with her husband Reet.

Read the original article here or head on over to TripOutside for more outdoor wellness advice!
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