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How to stay active at home: Tips from Camp Walt Whitman’s Athletic Director

A springtime of quarantine has meant more Zoom calls and Google classroom visits than any of us ever imagined. So if you haven’t been using this flexible work from home and homeschool lifestyle to get as much exercise as you should, it’s understandable. But with summer approaching, it’s time to infuse your virtual existence with some real activities.

To help our families at home stay as active as our campers do during their summers in New Hampshire, we asked our Athletic Director Matt Karner to recommend ways to incorporate exercise into your days. The four-sport varsity athlete, who has an undergraduate degree in sports science and is now pursuing his Master’s in sports journalism, shared his pro tips for staying fit at home.

1. Aim to exercise 30 minutes a day, for more than just your physical health.

“Being physically active will help with our mental health as well,” says Matt. “When you’re stuck in a state, doing the same things over and over again, and there’s not a lot of places to go and a lot of things to do, exercising really does relax you so that you’re able to do what you need to do and make it through the day.” He recommends being active at least 30 minutes a day to achieve better focus and overall health.

Boy playing with a basketball

2. Do what you enjoy. 

When asked if there are particular exercises we should be doing, Matt emphasizes that it’s important to do “whatever gives you enjoyment,” whether that means sports or lifting weights (if you have the equipment), going for a walk, or running. “It’s all just a matter of what your enjoyment is.”

3. Switch it up.

Even as you pursue activities you like, you should also vary your daily exercise routine.

This is easy to do at camp, where each day is filled with water and land sports and hikes through the woods, but at home, where paddleboarding and mountain traverses are probably not in the cards, you should just try activities you’re less familiar with. “This is a good time to branch out of what you’re more comfortable with,” says Matt. “It’s supposed to take 21 days to start or break a habit,” he reminds us, and we have nothing if not time to begin a new exercise habit that will hopefully stay with us when we go back to our normal, everyday lives. As a guide, he recommends at least one to two days of cardio or high-intensity style exercise, alongside more restorative exercises like yoga or walking.

  fitness app on an iphone

4. Use an app. 

Many fitness apps and gyms are offering free online workouts now or at least free trials, so it’s a great time to try out a few to find one you like. Matt uses the free Nike Training Club app, which includes a variety of 30-minute workouts as well as yoga, and the Nike Run Club app to aid his running. 

5. Take a 30-day challenge. 

Not all 30-day challenges are geared toward weight loss. There are also ones aimed at increasing strength and agility, like the squat challenge Matt once took, to go from 50 squats a day to 255. The side benefit is the social aspect. “It’s great to do with camp friends,” he says, even virtually. “Maybe you’re not doing it together, but you’re holding each other accountable.”

6. Make it a game. 

To get even your most reluctant family members to be more active, Matt recommends finding a way to make your group exercise fun. 

“Everyone’s more excited when there is a game. Competition fuels a lot of people, and creates a game-like atmosphere.” Posing a challenge like who can shoot the most baskets, return the most volleys, or do the most sit-ups, changes the mindset of exercise as something they need to do to something they’ll want to do.