Professional News

Use What You Find Around the House (Like Your Kids) To Stay Healthy

UK HR Exercise Specialist Ryan Mason with his daughter.
UK HR Exercise Specialist Ryan Mason with his daughter.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 14, 2020) — Practicing social-distancing and working from home are important during these challenging times when maintaining your health and the health of your friends and families is critical. But with all the other changes in your life, you may not realize how much your physical activity has been reduced. 

There are obvious things impacting your ability to work out, like not being able to go to the gym or fitness classes, but there are smaller things that have changed your level of activity as well. You aren’t walking or biking from a parking lot to your office. Instead of going across campus for a meeting, you’re “Zooming” from home. And sometimes, you may become so engrossed in your work, you may forget to get up and move around.

University of Kentucky Human Resources' Health and Wellness blog has tips for home workouts. And for a short break during your workday, register for presentations on YouTube “When Your ‘Workout’ Routine is Interrupted, What Now?” Thursday, April 23, and “Exploring Different Workouts from Home” Thursday, May 7. 

UK Health and Wellness exercise specialists also offer these ideas: 

Movement as part of your daily routine “Making exercise a habit can be difficult no matter where you are located for work. Working from home while others are present or with no equipment can be even more challenging,” says Carrie Davidson, certified exercise physiologist, registered yoga teacher and MoveWell Fitness manager for UK HR Health and Wellness.    

“The first step is to continue to make your health and fitness a priority. Set an alarm to remind you to work out or even to get up from your workstation.  

“Second, with a little creativity, regular household objects can become resistance. Try using a paint can as a kettlebell or a water bottle filled with sand as a dumbbell.”

And that chair you’ve been sitting in? It can be part of an exercise routine as well. To keep moving during the day, try some of the following:

  1. Warm up by running in place, doing jumping jacks, marching in place with or without arm raises, and do torso twists standing or sitting.
  2. Tricep dips (do this on the edge of a non-rolling chair) — facing away from the chair, position your hands on the edge of the chair and walk your feet away from the chair. Then, slowly lower your body as far as you can, using only your triceps and upper body, and raise back up.
  3. Bridge ups — Lay on your back with your feet propped on the edge of your chair. Press up with the glutes to raise your legs and torso off the ground into a traditional “bridge” exercise.
  4. Chair step-ups (using a non-rolling chair) — Face the chair and step up onto it with one leg. Bring the other leg up to meet it and step back down. Repeat with the other leg, and alternate legs evenly. You can modify this exercise by using a lower surface (like a footstool) or practice seated marches and see how high you can bring your knees in the air before lowering.
  5. Rest, then repeat.

Want to exercise and keep the kids busy at the same time? Many families are homeschooling or have children who would normally attend preschool or daycare. Working from home with family distractions can be difficult enough, never mind finding ways to fit in a workout.

UK HR Health and Wellness exercise specialist and father of two Ryan Mason, certified strength and conditioning specialist, says, “Children are an excellent source for added resistance for strength training. Depending on the size of your child and your current strength level, there are many exercises where you can use them as your weight. With a little ingenuity, you can press, squat or deadlift a child. Most likely your child will even enjoy being this extra resistance.”

Getting your kids involved in exercise can be mutually beneficial. When your children see you making time to exercise, they recognize the importance of physical activity and will follow your example. 

While we are all struggling to cope with the lack of socialization right now, it can be especially difficult for children, even if they are too young to express it. Playgrounds and parks are closed, they can’t visit friends, and they have an amazing amount of energy at their disposal. Exercising with you will help them sleep better at night, which will help you get some much-needed rest as well.

Walking around the neighborhood (while maintaining social distancing) is a good way to get some exercise, spend time as a family and enjoy the beauty of a Kentucky spring. Many neighborhoods are playing “Going on a Bear Hunt” with stuffed animals in their windows or displaying artwork. You can get extra steps in while exploring. 

If you are participating in MoveWell Rewards (or if you would like to), taking time out of your day to walk may increase your total steps more than when you are working on campus!

And don’t forget, our trained fitness specialists are still available for you online, by phone and through social media. You can even contact Health and Wellness directly to let them know what resources you have at home and they’ll set up a plan just for you.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.