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COVID-19 | April 16, 2020

Do try this at home: DIY home-exercise hacks

By PA2 Loumania Stewart

MCPOCG's Playlist

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MCPOCG Jason Vanderhaden hates starting his morning workout. “My most dreaded part of working out is that first five minutes,” he said, “because I’m old and it takes a few minutes to get warmed up. But after I’m finished, I feel accomplished – and ready to kick butt!”

He stays on track using a killer playlist, and says it helps that he and his wife Amy are making it a priority to stay consistent with their regular routines at home.

But without our normal schedules, it's easy to forget that we are born to move, rather than sit at a desk or in front of a screen for hours at a time. So how do we maintain physical readiness?  

“There are mental and physical health benefits to regular exercise, especially during social-distancing and shelter-in-place restrictions imposed by COVID-19,” said Tim Merrell, the Coast Guard’s health promotion program manager. “It is important to make physical exercise part of your daily routine to reduce stress and anxiety, help your brain function optimally, and improve your mood and your immune system and overall health.”

Members can still stay active during the “stay at home” order. Just adjust your normal routine to whatever you have available in your current environment. You can start with these homemade fitness hacks from HPRC, a team of fitness experts at Uniformed Services University:

  • Use your stairs to do calf raises and squats
  • Use a kitchen counter or sturdy chair for tricep dips or squat jumps
  • Fill a milk or juice jug (either gallon or half-gallon) with water or sand, for bicep curls, overhead presses and tricep extensions.
  • Fill water bottles with water or sand for bicep curls and shoulder presses.

The Navy Operational Fitness and Fueling System is another option – their site offers free, pre-programmed workouts that use bodyweight exercise and require little to no equipment.

Or since we’re talking about creating “a new normal,” maybe take this time to start something new. See if your gym or studio is streaming classes online. Or call a friend using your favorite video app, and invite them to a virtual dance party or push-up contest.

“Have fun while staying active. Be creative and perhaps involve the whole family. It’s just about finding what you enjoy,” said Merrell.

As you establish an at-home fitness routine, remember to keep it simple, stay consistent and have fun.

“While this is a very stressful and uncertain time, we will all get through this,” said Merrell. "Doing a little exercise will help - and we may even come out of this a little healthier!”


MCPOCG's Playlist
Coast Guard members stretch after a workout at Air Station Clearwater, Florida. Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ayla Hudson


Abdominal workouts - Strengthen and improve torso stabilization and can improve respiratory functions.

Arm workouts - Strengthen upper body, protects shoulders from injury, and improves posture.

Cardio workouts - Help burn fat and calories for weight loss, increase lung capacity and make your heart stronger.