How to Stay Physically Active Close to Home

  • author name Jennifer M. Graham, DPT
  • author name Christopher Dupkanick, DPT, OCS
family cleaning

Although hope for a return to normalcy is on the horizon, COVID-19 continues to limit our ability to engage in regular physical fitness activities at gyms and other outside venues. And at a time when exercise is more important than ever for  both physical and mental health, this presents challenges for many people. The physical therapy team at Lancaster General Health rose to the challenge and found easy ways to help you keep moving without leaving your home and neighborhood.

Turn Chores into Scores

Doing active chores around your home and yard, and walking (with or without your dog!) are some great examples of ordinary activities than can bring extraordinary results. Even a 10% increase in your normal activity makes a difference. So grab the vacuum, dog leash, rake, or scrub brush and move with gusto! Wash your car, scrub the floor, clean your windows, organize your closets. Not only will your body thank you, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labors and feel better mentally.

Start slow and gradually strive for 30 minutes or more of moderate level exercise five or more days a week. A common description of “moderate” is to walk/move fast enough to find yourself a little out of breath if having a conversation. 

Also strive for two days a week of strengthening, or anaerobic exercise at a moderate intensity, aiming for 10-15 repetitions of each exercise.

At-Home Exercises

Check out these simple exercises that incorporate both aerobic and anaerobic benefits. The combination is important in achieving maximum benefit. Add them into your daily routine and you just may come out of months of quarantine in better shape than you went in!

Chair Rises

Rise from a chair without using your arms. This provides a workout for all the major muscles in your legs, requires balance, and increases your heart rate. See how many you can safely perform in 30 seconds and work to increase that number to be greater than 12. Ask someone to stand next to you if you feel unbalanced. 

exercising at home
Chair rises 1
exercising at home
Chair rises 2

Heel and Toe Raises

Strengthen the muscles in your lower legs by standing at a counter or sturdy surface for balance, and raising up on your toes. Without leaning your hips back, raise your toes up into the air as you go up onto your heels. Then slowly lower her toes back to the floor.

exercising at home
Heel rises
exercising at home
Toe rises

Push-up at Wall

Build upper body strength with wall push-ups. Stand at a wall with your arms straight in front of you and your feet about one foot from the wall. Bend your elbows to lower your body to the wall and push yourself back up. Be careful not to hold your breath during this exercise. Breathe in during the lowering phase and breathe out while pushing yourself back up. 

exercising at home
Push up at wall 1
exercising at home
Push up at wall 2


Stretching is an important part of any exercise and movement program, and is often overlooked. The ability to move a joint through its full range of motion is critical to prevent injuries. Gently and carefully, place the muscle at end range and hold, without bouncing or pain for 30-60 seconds. Repeat up to three times, and repeat at least two times per week. Older adults should hold stretches for longer periods of time to have the full benefits. 

Calf Stretch

Stretching out the back of you calves helps prevent tripping over your toes while walking. Stand about 1 foot from the wall and place your arms just below the level of your shoulders. Place one foot in front of the other. While keeping your back heel on the floor and your knee straight, lean forward until you feel a stretch in your lower leg. Repeat with the knee bent.

exercising at home
Calf stretches 1
exercising at home
Calf stretches 2

Unilateral Doorway Pec Stretch

Stretching out the front of your chest helps overall posture and arm movement. This can help decrease stress on the muscles in your neck that can become tight during stressful times. While standing with good posture, place your forearm on the edge of a doorframe with your elbow at the level of the shoulder. Step forward with your opposite foot. You should feel a pulling in the front of your chest. If the stretch is too intense, lower your elbow. If it is not intense enough, raise your elbow to above the level of the shoulder. 

exercising at home
Unilateral doorway pec stretch

Other Resources

There are also a variety of online workouts available. YouTube and local gyms offer (often free) yoga, aerobic and other classes. Check with your local gym/rec center or try one of these options:

Even though people are asked to limit trips outside the home, exercise is encouraged, as long as you practice safe hygiene and avoiding close contact with others. The important thing is keep moving!

author name

Jennifer M. Graham, DPT

Jennifer M. Graham, DPT, is a physical therapist at LG Health Physical Therapy at Eden Road. Jennie earned a B.S. in Health Science and Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Lebanon Valley College, and is a board-certified Geriatric Clinical Specialist (GCS) and a Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults (CEEAA).

Call: 717-544-3270
author name

Christopher Dupkanick, DPT, OCS

Christopher Dupkanick, DPT, OCS, is a physical therapist at Lancaster General Health Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Chris received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy at SUNY Upstate Medical University. He enjoys working with runners and athletes, and is an avid endurance athlete.

Call: 717-544-3000

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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