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5 free ways to exercise while social distancing that will help you feel great 'immediately'

Twenty/20

With much of the U.S. isolating to quell the spread of the coronavirus, many people's lives are more sedentary than they used to be. But it's important to keep active, even in this time of quarantine. 

The benefits of exercise have long been documented, from strengthening bones and muscles to reducing the risk of heart disease. Dealing with anxiety or unease during this time? Exercise can also improve your mental health by lowering stress. And while "physical relief feels great," says trainer Ashley Borden, who has worked on Khloe Kardashian's show "Revenge Body," one of the greatest benefits of working out is "that you feel [that relief] immediately."

Here are five ways to get in some exercise while you're social distancing.

Try workouts by Borden

Borden tailored three short workouts for Grow readers. If you do a series of these exercises, then take a break, "30 seconds on, 30 seconds off" for 10 minutes at a time, she says, "you'll be freaking sweating, and you'll feel that for your whole body."

Borden recommends using a stopwatch when you work out because "when you have a timer," she says, "it makes you work under task," or holds you accountable. She suggests using the stopwatch on your smart phone or finding a cheap timer app.

For more, Borden's YouTube channel features hundreds of other exercises. 

Watch YouTube workouts 

YouTube channels feature a variety of free workouts. Some standouts:

  • Planet Fitness streams 20 minute at-home, full-body workouts on its Facebook page Monday through Friday nights, which then get uploaded to its YouTube page.
  • Yoga with Adriene features dozens of yoga workouts from about 5 to 40 minutes long and geared toward all levels of experience.
  • PopSugar Fitness features dozens of high intensity workout videos ranging from cardio to dance to toning workouts from 5 to 35 minutes long each.
Physical relief feels great, and you feel that immediately.
Ashley Borden
Fitness coach

Use free fitness apps

There are a number of free apps that feature a variety of workouts:

  • Apps like Yoga for Beginners feature free 10 minute workouts that can boost energy and help flexibility and toning.
  • The Daily Workouts app features a series of 10, 20, or 30 minute workouts targeted toward abs, arms, legs, or the full body.
  • The Nike Training Club app features new daily workouts targeting lower body, upper body, core, etc., as well as a backlog of other workout videos. Workouts last from 15 to 45 minutes. While some of the ones on the app are typically only available to those paying the $14.99 per month premium membership fee, Nike recently made all videos free and available to everyone.

Take a walk

The health benefits of walking have long been documented and include reducing the risk of heart disease, strengthening bones and muscles, and improving your mood, according to the Mayo Clinic. Walking just 30 minutes a day can make a difference. 

If you're worried about leaving the house while social distancing, make sure you keep a six foot distance between yourself and others, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, and consider wearing a mask.

Dance at a Zoom party

Dance is a a beneficial form of exercise, improving heart health and lowering anxiety, according to the University of California, Berkeley.

Looking for a way to keep dancing even during quarantine? Choreographer Ani Taj and fellow dancer Sunny Hitt, theater director Sam Pinkleton, and theater producer Jenny Gersten came up with Social DisDance, a "three times a week club that happens in everybody's home," Taj says.

Screenshot of Social Disdance party.
Photo by Ani Taj

Social DisDance takes place for about an hour on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. EST, Fridays at 8 p.m. EST, and Sundays at 5 p.m. EST. Party-goers log into both a designated zoom conference and a designated DJ mix (created for each party), and dance "together" to the given mix.

Participation is free, though attendees are invited to donate to a cause highlighted during each event and to tip the DJs or Social DisDance team via Venmo for their work.  

Follow Social DisDance's Instagram page to keep up with its events. Taj says that her favorite part of each party is actually the send-off, when participants are saying their goodbyes.

"It's really moving because you're seeing humans trying to connect across an impossible chasm right now," she says.

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