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Military Health System

Indoor exercises to improve anxiety and depression

By Christian Evans, MA, MDiv, PMP
May 2, 2020

""U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Omari Bernard

The COVID-19 crisis has shut down many businesses across the United States, including gyms, and going to busy parks to use running trails and other resources is also now not an option in most places. This has made it challenging to maintain regular exercise. In addition, many of us have kids at home and are trying to telework. Being stuck at home can lead to "cabin fever". It can also trigger anxiety and lead to depression. So what can you do to help stay active and energetic?

Exercise is a very low cost way of keeping your mood up and has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Moreover, where you exercise does not matter. If you're unable to go outside or to a gym to work out, you can exercise in your house and still enjoy the mental health boost as well as the clear physical health benefits.

What types of exercises can you do indoors? There are plenty of choices: squats, lunges, jumping jacks, and pushups are some examples. You can hop on a treadmill, download an indoor-cycling app, subscribe to an online workout program, or start a zoom yoga class with friends.

Do you have stairs? Then walk up and down the stairs for about 10 minutes for a short cardio workout. You can make this more challenging by carrying a couple of detergent bottles or packing a few books in a backpack. In fact, wearing a loaded backpack while doing squats, lunges, or pushups makes each of those exercises more challenging.

Try this circuit to get your heart rate up:

  1. 10 jumping jacks
  2. 10 pushups
  3. 10 squats
  4. 10 sit ups
  5. 10 lunges

Rest 60 seconds, then repeat twice. Doing this short workout three times a week can help relieve your stress and energize you to endure this challenging time.

Mr. Evans is a public health analyst at the Psychological Health Center of Excellence. He has a master’s degree in economics and a master of divinity.

Last Updated: December 02, 2022
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