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Here we are again—a COVID-related article. Our daily life and routines have changed dramatically as we’ve adapted. Exercise is no exception. 

In fact, having a strong activity routine can be a major help in keeping up mental health, as well as physical health. 

You may look at public gyms and think, “OK, I have to make sure I get a spot in one of only several time slots, and I have to worry about being in a public, sweaty place.” That’s fair enough; despite cleanliness precautions being taken, going to the gym is still a risk. What does that leave you? 

The way I see it, there are three main avenues to explore: bodyweight exercises, dumbbell exercises, and outdoor activities. Two of these, almost everyone can do, and the other can be done if you have a couple sets of dumbbells kicking around.  

Bodyweight 

Get ready to go back to basics. Pushups, plank, and lunges still reign supreme when it comes to anytime, anywhere exercises that target multiple muscles. Don’t have any equipment of any kind? No problem, many people don’t—especially those who used to rely on going to a gym. All you need is a clear patch of floor or ground.  

Here’s a general list of some of the best equipment-free exercises to gain muscle (and one is called “groiners”, so that’s fun). Fitness Blender’s YouTube channel has lots of interesting bodyweight routines with clear instructions. This one is an upper body workout. You’ll inevitably be engaging your core with any bodyweight routine, but here’s an article that gives pure core routines (with videos) that vary by level of difficulty. 

Dumbbells 

Dumbbells are great for those who want a little more precise muscle workout, or to add challenge to some of the exercises mentioned above. A bench is nice to have, too, but not required. A chair is a good stand-in.  

These nine exercises are great for a shorter but satisfying upper body workout, while this article is much more in-depth. 

Outdoors 

This one is pretty self-explanatory, yet can be overlooked. A positive of COVID-19 is people have been getting out more (while social distancing), whether it’s hiking, running, cycling, or just a stroll around the block.  

Going for a run or a bike ride on a local trail has two clear benefits: the uneven ground and winding route are better for using more muscles in your body compared to a stationary bike or treadmill, and it’s easier to maintain focus and interest in the exercise when you’re moving through the trees or along city streets rather than staring at a wall in your basement or at a gym. 

If you’re in Nanaimo, there are several nice parks and trails to check out. I fully recommend Morrell Sanctuary in the south end if you’re looking for an in-nature experience. The E&N Trail along the Old Island Highway is actually a good ride when the weather is nice, and the Parkway Trail is great if you’re looking for some hills. 

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