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Read Time 15 min

How to Stay Active at Home

Here are seven ways to stay active at home while social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Right now, people all over the world are “social distancing” in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. In this time of intentional isolation, we are being asked as good citizens to avoid direct contact with others, remain 6 feet apart and limit our ventures outside of our homes.

Just because we’re stuck at home doesn’t necessarily mean we’re confined to the couch with a bowl of popcorn. Don’t get us wrong — the occasional TV, movie or video game binge can be a satisfying form of self-care. But much like social media, online shopping and snacking, too much of a good thing can lead to trouble.

For both our mental and physical health, we know routines are important, especially our fitness routine. If you are worried about letting those important health goals slip away, here are seven ways to stay active in and around the house and neighborhood during this time of altered routines:

Fitness videos are fun

Fitness is the best medicine for Parkinson’s disease. Studies suggest that consistent, vigorous exercise may improve how the brain uses and protects dopamine. Researchers are also looking at how specific types of movements can alleviate common motor symptoms of PD. For instance, yoga and tai chi are great ways to improve balance, while boxing can help with quickness, planning and sequencing.

You may be surprised to learn that there are plenty of safe and fun fitness videos that cater specifically to people living with Parkinson’s disease. The Brian Grant Foundation works closely with the researchers at the Balance Disorders Laboratory at Oregon Health & Sciences University to develop evidence-based programs and classes. Access free BGF workout videos here.

It’s gardening season

Quarantining at home doesn’t mean you have to stay inside the whole time. Studies have shown that spending just 20 to 30 minutes outdoors each day can significantly reduce cortisol levels and therefore lower our chances of experiencing stress, depression, anxiety or preexisting mood disorders. Research has also found that exposure to natural light can be conducive to higher self-esteem and better moods.

Gardening or doing yard work in general is an excellent way to stay active because you’re accomplishing your chores while getting exercise and reducing stress. And you’re saving money by growing your own food.

Choose a new hobby

Have you always wanted to start a hobby, but never had the time? Well, now that most of us are at home quarantining, what better time than now? Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress, anxiety and depression—which is something to keep in mind during the coronavirus pandemic.

Maybe you already have a few hobbies, but you would like the opportunity to explore more. Perhaps you’re looking for hobbies you can do with a family member at home. Some people start a new hobby that challenges them intellectually or physically. If your current hobbies are relaxing, consider a challenging hobby, and vice versa. There is sure to be a hobby for you whatever your interests are. The important thing is that it is something you find meaningful and enjoyable.

Try out that new recipe

Since most restaurants are closed right now, it’s the perfect opportunity to show off those cooking skills, especially if you’re looking for creative ways to cook with shelf-stable items like dried beans and grains or canned fruits and veggies. Even if you’re already a fantastic chef, there is always something new to try. As Julie Child once said, “You’ll never know everything about anything, especially something you love.” There are thousands of new techniques and recipes out there you might love to challenge yourself with.

A nutritious diet is important for maintaining good health and preventing chronic illness. For people with Parkinson’s, nutritious foods can also help manage some of the common symptoms of the disease and support healthy brain functions. Check out BGF’s nutrition for Parkinson’s, recipes and cooking videos here.

Step outside for a walk or hike

Got a case of cabin fever? That’s typical for many people who are sheltering in place. Now that spring has sprung, why not head outside and take a walk around the neighborhood? As long as you are careful and you are able to stay at least six feet away from anyone in your neighborhood, a walk can be beneficial to your mood and health.

Our bodies and brains have to work harder when we walk outside due to the fact that we’re constantly encountering subtle changes in the environment. We subconsciously adapt to those tiny changes in our surroundings in order to navigate various inclines, sharp turns, obstacles or uneven surfaces. We aren’t just exercising our muscles—we’re exercising our cognitive thinking. This is especially important for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Clean or rearrange the home

When you’re at home for most of the day, you start to notice things around the house that need a good scrubbing or dusting. Spring cleaning or rearranging your home can feel very rewarding and productive, while giving you a great workout to boot! Remember, that there are shortcuts that can make cleaning with Parkinson’s quicker and easier.

Put on some music or a podcast, take your time and ask for help if you need. If you become fatigued during an activity, don’t push yourself to keep going. Stop, rest and drink water. If you have swelling in your feet or ankles, elevate your legs when resting. You may need to finish your chores another day or when you feel less tired. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Cleaning your home doesn’t have to be done in a day either.

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