How To Stay Physically Active During COVID-19

These are interesting times we are living in. At Christie Clinic, we are taking appropriate measures to decrease patient risk and protect the health of those in our community, during this pandemic.

While many local, state, and federal protocols are calling for individuals to stay home during this time, that does not mean we can’t stay physically active. Though your PT clinic, local gym, or group fitness class may be cancelled for the time being, there are still things you can do at home to stay physically active!


Many people have exercise equipment in their home. Let’s be honest though, how many of us use that equipment as a clothing rack or coat hanger? This additional time at home would be a great time to hang those clothes up and dust off that old Airdyne stationary bike! Be sure to utilize that cardio equipment you have at home!

Try to find those exercise DVD’s you have stored away and do an in-home cardio workout. If you’re more high-tech, you can stream exercise programs from your computer or television. Even a quick Google or Pinterest search for “home workout program” will give you a plethora of workout ideas that require no equipment. So many options!

Strength Training:

Being stuck at home may mean you are being more sedentary than usual. Laying on the couch or in the recliner can actually cause some increased low back pain, neck pain, or hip pain (just to name a few), due to poor posture. Our bodies are built for movement, and keeping our body moving is good for joint and muscle health, not to mention circulation and respiratory health. Prevent any further ailments by doing some of the following exercises.

Low Back Pain:

Mini squats

1-2 sets of 10 reps, 1-2 times per day

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Begin to do a squat by acting as though you are going to sit in a chair (stick your hips back, slight bend at the knees). Bend your knees to where it feels challenging enough for your leg muscles (don’t go past 90 degrees if you have knee pain). Begin to stand upright, and be sure to squeeze your buttock and thigh muscles tight. Make sure to keep weight in your heels throughout the motion to engage your gluteal muscles.

Core stabilization

1-2 sets of 10 reps, 1-2 times per day

Lie on your back with your knees bent (lie on the floor or in bed). Have your palms face down against the surface. Gently press your hands/arms straight down into the floor/bed for a count of 5-10 seconds, then relax. You should feel your lower abdominal muscles engage when you do this.

Standing hip abduction/extension

1-2 sets of 10 reps, 1-2 times a day on each side.

Stand holding onto a chair or the kitchen counter for balance. Picture on the top: kick one leg to the side and slightly back (at a 45 degree angle). Picture on the bottom: kick one leg straight back while squeezing your buttock tight. With both exercises, do not lean forward, and do not kick your leg so far that you have increased low back pain.

Midback/Neck Pain:

Scapular retractions

1-2 sets of 10 reps, 1-2 times per day

Stand or sit with upright posture. Gently squeeze your shoulder blades straight back (together). Be sure not to shrug your shoulders upwards when you do this.

Cervical retractions

1-2 sets of 10 reps, 1-2 times per day

Sit or stand with upright posture. Gently pull your head straight back while tucking your chin slightly downward. Do not tilt your head up or down toward the floor; simply pull your head straight back (the chin tuck keeps your head level rather than going into extension). Hold approximately 5 seconds. Relax.

Bent over rows

1-2 sets of 10 on each side;
1-2 times per day

Lean forward with a hand resting on a chair or table-top. Allow the other arm to dangle down towards the floor. Pull your arm up while bending the elbow, as though you are starting a lawn mower. Pull your shoulder blade in and slightly downward towards your spine. Relax your arm back down so it is dangling towards the floor.

Hip Pain:


1-2 sets of 10 reps, 1-2 times per day

Lie on your back on the floor or in bed with your knees bent. Raise your buttock up off the surface, pushing through your heels and squeezing your buttock tight. Only hold 1-2 seconds, and then lower.


1-2 sets of 10, 1-2 times per day on each side.

Lie on your side on the floor or in bed, knees bent, feet together. You can put a pillow between your knees if you would like. Keep the feet together and lift the top knee up and down. Do not let your hips roll back when the knee goes up.

Hip abduction

1-2 sets of 10, each side; 1-2 times per day

Lie on your side on the floor or the bed. Straighten out your top leg, and move it slightly behind your torso. Lift your top leg straight up and down, keeping the leg slightly behind your torso the entire time.

Get Outside:

Just because we are informed to limit our social activities by “social distancing” (one we will never forget!), that doesn’t mean we can’t get some fresh air! Go out into your backyard and run around with the kids, play fetch with the dog, go on a short walk (being mindful to avoid crowded areas), or even do a little bit of yard work.

Don’t go overboard with the yardwork or cleaning out the garage though, as these things when done too aggressively can result in increased aches and pains. Remember, we are trying to keep everybody HEALTHY, not cause any additional ailments.

Though we are finding ourselves in stressful, anxious, and uncertain times, remember that we will get through this. Exercise is a great way to help manage stress and anxiety. If you had some of your physical therapy appointments cancelled due to the virus, remember to do your home exercises program (HEP)! Simply doing your HEP may be enough to keep your pain at bay and maintain optimal function during this trying time. Stay strong, stay healthy, and wash your hands!

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