How to stay active when you're stuck at home

Home Office Mac Computer Lifestyle
Home Office Mac Computer Lifestyle (Image credit: @rpnickson/Unsplash)

Whether you're social distancing or quarantined, we're all finding ourselves with more time at home. We don't want to turn into couch potatoes; there are plenty of options out there to keep the mind and body active and engaged. In a way, the extra time is a gift. So it's time to take full advantage of the situation. Here are some of our favorite ways to stay active while you're stuck at home.

Get in shape

You can use this time to improve your physical health. Start a healthier eating plan. It will be easier to stick to since there won't be "treats in the office break room" temptations for a while. Since you likely can't hit the gym, you'll need to get creative. YouTube is, of course, a good source for exercise you can do at home without equipment. If you are able to get outside, a walk or a jog is a wonderful way to get clear the mind and get some steps in. If you do have exercise equipment at home, dust it off and get to it. To pass the time while you exercise on your "gerbil machine," (as my dad, an avid outdoor runner and gym hater used to call them) take advantage of the many other streaming services mentioned in the article at the same time.

If you are working from home, consider exercising while you work. I've been using my treadmill desk a lot lately. I find that I can walk about 1.5 miles per hour while typing on my laptop, which isn't a super workout per se, but I'm getting steps in rather than being seated all day. My own model is not currently available, and in fact, the "treadmill desk" as a single unit seems to have gotten less popular, but you can get the same result by pairing a standing desk with an under desk treadmill. This setup gives you the option to run or walk fast for a focused workout, or take it low and slow for some gentle movement while you work.

Expand your mind

Advance your career, explore a new career, or simply learn about something that interests you. There are so many online resources out there to help you learn something new, many of which won't cost a dime. Learn at your own pace and turn your #StayHome time into a valuable new skill. You might even be able to pick up a new side hustle, especially if your normal work hours have been cut back.

Connect with your people

It's more important than ever to maintain close relationships with friends and loved ones, but it takes a bit more effort when you can't gather in person. I have found that video chatting has been a wonderful way to keep up connections in lieu of in-person meetups. I tend to use good old FaceTime since my friends and family are mostly on iOS, but for your other-platform friends, check out Skype. It's free easy to use; my mom uses it. There is something comforting about hearing and seeing the people you love. If you can't see them in person, video chatting is the next best thing. Time spent with loved ones is never wasted time.

Make music

Do you have an instrument you've been meaning to learn how to play? There's no time like the present. You can self-teach with YouTube videos, whether you're a beginner or an advanced learner. If you'd rather learn from a live instructor, I'd be willing to bet it would be easy to find a musician/music teacher with a webcam and some time on their hands who would love to give you lessons.

Or perhaps you've been wanting to see what GarageBand has to offer. It's free on your Apple devices and Apple offers plenty of support and user guides which basically amount to an online course.

Learn or hone new skills with YouTube

Music isn't the only thing you can learn from YouTube. If there's a skill you want to learn, you can probably find a tutorial on YouTube. My husband has made numerous home and car repairs just from watching YouTube video tutorials. Find out how you can give yourself a professional-looking manicure. Practice new makeup looks. Look up Bob Ross and learn to paint. (Even if you don't learn much, his videos are so soothing to watch.) Learn the latest dance moves. Improve your cooking skills. Pick up some dog-training tips.

Pick up a new language

There's no time like the present to learn a new language. We will be traveling around the world again, and what better way to prepare than by learning a bit of the language where you wish to travel. Duolingo offers free courses for over 30 different languages. The fun, bite-sized classes gamify learning. So, if you can spare 10 minutes a day, you'll find yourself conversant in another language in just a few months. Did I mention it's free? In-app purchases allow you to remove ads and add premium content, but you don't need to pay a dime to access all of the courses.

Check out your library's website

Libraries tend not to advertise much, but your local library is an incredibly rich resource for online material. You don't need to set foot in a library to take full advantage. Some libraries have an instant digital library card sign up, all you need a phone number to get it. Libby, by OverDrive, is an easy-to-use app for borrowing books and audiobooks that is available at many local libraries. Download the app, put in your library card number, and start borrowing. But there are many other free streaming services and apps which vary in availability by library system. I love Flipster for free magazines on my iPad. Go to your library's website to check out your options.

Jigsaw puzzles

Whether it takes you back to your own childhood, or you have bored children in the house, a jigsaw puzzle is an activity that anyone of any age can enjoy. I remember growing up I had an aunt who always had a puzzle going on the card table. As we kids floated in and out, we'd pop in a piece or two. Jigsaw puzzles can be done alone or with a partner or family member. You can do them all at once or spread the activity out over weeks. When choosing a jigsaw puzzle, be sure to take the number of pieces into account, especially if you have children, as you want the challenge to be appropriate. The more repetitive the pattern, the more challenging the puzzle will be. Also, make sure you love the look of the puzzle since you'll be spending a lot of time looking at it.

Delve into a complicated game

If you've always wanted to learn how to play a complex game like Mah Jong, Dungeons and Dragons, Bridge, or Chess, why not now? Videochat with an expert who can teach you, or check out good old YouTube for instructional videos. If you can play with someone in your home, fantastic. If not, round up some virtual friends for some friendly competition. My daughter has a long-running Dungeons and Dragons game going with four people in three different states.

Stay home, stay active

Staying physically and mentally active while you're stuck at home is just a matter of getting into the right mindset. Once you decide to take advantage of the extra time on your hands, you can really get creative and find some fantastic things to do. I hope this list will get you started, perhaps you'll develop awesome new habits, skills, and hobbies that you'll take with you into the future.

Karen S Freeman

Karen is a contributor to as a writer and co-host of the iMore Show. She’s been writing about Apple since 2010 with a year-long break to work at an Apple Store as a product specialist. She's also a contributor at TechRadar and Tom's Guide. Before joining iMore in 2018, Karen wrote for Macworld, CNET, AppAdvice, and WatchAware. She’s an early adopter who used to wait in long lines on release days before pre-ordering made things much easier. Karen is also a part-time teacher and occasional movie extra. She loves to spend time with her family, travel the world, and is always looking for portable tech and accessories so she can work from anywhere.