I would get a lot of writing done if I lived in isolation in a cave under a swamp.Claire Cameron
I “met” Julie Singh on-line when she contacted me about my life as the Blissful Hiker. I have to say, I envy what she has carved out for herself as a full-time RV-based explorer, biker, hiker, paddler, skier and outdoor advocate. With her husband Reet, she founded TripOutside, an all-in-one for researching top outdoor destinations, finding adventures and gear from the best local outfitters, and booking it all online. This is a superb and comprehensive list on how to stay sane – and fit in body and mind – during this unprecedented moment.
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
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, paddleboarding, kayaking, 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, on 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 days ago. This means we literally cannot leave our house, past our driveway. Our worst nightmare…but also 100% necessary. So, we are trying to make the most of it and practice acceptance. We believe that 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 are doing to stay active during corona virus.
Benefits of Staying Active & Getting Outdoors During a Quarantine Period
Boredom is not the worst thing about 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.
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.
Exercise is also a proven mood booster, reducing depression and anxiety, decreasing stress, and improving sleep and brain function. All things that we could all use a bit more of at this present moment!
Lastly, breathing in the fresh air of the outdoors and receiving a healthy dose of Vitamin D from sun exposure can help strengthen our immune system.
But how can you enjoy getting outdoors safely while on quarantine or social distancing?
Ways to Stay Active & Get Outdoors Without Leaving Your House
Since we are homebound for at least the next 21 days, we’ve had to get creative around spending time outdoors and ways to stay active during corona virus. The good news is that there are more resources than ever before, as gyms, studios and workouts are being added online 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.
Work Out in Your Backyard
No need to worry about going to a gym – they are 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!
- Planet Fitness Facebook work ins – daily on Facebook at 7 pm EST
- Orange Theory Fitness online workouts
- 305 Fitness – cardio dancing or live steam workouts on its YouTube channel everyday at 12pm EST
Or, create your own workout with lunges, squats, burpees or your other favorite routines.
Sustain Your Body & Mind with Yoga
While in India, I was planning on taking yoga teacher training to become 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 2 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 during the corona virus quarantine. Whether you are 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!
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. Hospitals are the worst place to be right now to stay healthy, and avoiding them at all costs will help limit the spread of COVID-19.
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
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 in 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 are past this!
Take Your Pet for a Walk
Pets need outdoor exposure as much as humans do. Just like their owners, pets can be quite irritable when 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. It will 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, and 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
Gardening is not only a great way to stay moving and keep your mind occupied, but a vegetable garden can help care for your food needs as well while you are 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 your quarantine!
Camp At Home in the Back Yard
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 back yard! 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 and 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 back yard 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 & Stay Sane
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 new free time watching the news, he has decided to extend his meditations. Instead of doing 10-15 minute sessions, he is attempting 45-60 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
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 is the time!
I am working on learning Hindi while we are 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 have 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 will 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 Family & Friends
Just because you are 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 who are isolated. Check in with grandparents and other elderly friends and family at least every other day.
Leaving the House or Traveling (We Say Don’t Do It)
Even though we are a travel & outdoors company, we don’t recommend traveling at all right now, and truly believe that staying inside your house/yard is really 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, but will be a great option once the pandemic has been contained.
The most responsible thing to do is not to travel, stay put and perhaps explore locally, if you are allowed and it is 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 Coronavirus 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 are 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 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 6 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 do not 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.