Social distancing need not be sedentary and quite as stressful. Try these fitness, meditation, and yoga apps and online workouts to lower your anxiety levels as you practice social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Karla Walsh
March 19, 2020
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Let’s have a show of hands for everyone feeling the volume turned up on stress, anxiety, and all of the overwhelming feels. Yep, our hands are up, too. The coronavirus pandemic has left us all struggling with uncertain and helpless thoughts, and all of the social distancing and working from home that comes along with it has left us all struggling with some extra-stiff legs and backs. But how do you keep your mind and your muscles right when your gym is closed? You can hit the trails outside if the weather is cooperative (just be sure to keep a 6-foot berth around other athletes!) or you can turn to your phone or computer. Yes, really. 

These YouTube channels and apps are all free and easy ways to get your blood pumping and to take your brain off of the news for a moment, all while staying safe and socially distant.

“While not a panacea or antidote, regular exercise affords many benefits, especially in periods of forced containment and social distancing,” says Stephanie Newman, Ph.D, a psychoanalyst and psychologist in New York City. 

That’s because endorphins, the hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system that activate opiate receptors, lift your mood and energize you. 

“Physical movement during times of quarantine provides a crucial change of pace, brings distraction from the 24/7 news cycle and offers an escape from the outside world. By taking just a few minutes a day to exercise, we reset emotionally and clear our heads,” Newman adds. “It’s also important for promoting solid sleep. A good night’s rest helps us feel calmer and has positive effects on our emotional state, improving outlook and reducing stress.”

Credit: Patrik Giardino/Getty Images

Check out these YouTube channels and download these apps for a wellness-focused way to combat the coronavirus stir-crazies.

Aaptiv

Listen up! If you’re not fond of visual workouts, try this audio app that’s loaded with audio training programs guided by top trainers. More than 30 new routines are added each week, designed for running, walking, strength, stretching, treadmills, and more.

Blogilates

For more than 10 years, this peppy trainer has been blogging (hence the name!) her at-home workouts for fans to follow her fit lead. While we like the butt challenge, we love the bed stretches.

Calm

“Take a deep breath,” is the motto of this meditation and sleep app, which also happens to have a handy free YouTube channel with stories and meditations from the likes of Lebron James, Moby, and more.

POPSUGAR Fitness

The 3.65 million subscribers can’t be wrong. These free fitness videos, including yoga, dance, and strength/cardio circuits, are sorted by style or length so you can choose an endorphin-boosting routine that fits your schedule and goals.

SHAPE Magazine

Workouts, body confidence tips, stretches … your wellness bases are covered with this YouTube channel from our sister magazine, SHAPE.

Stop, Breathe & Think

“Hey, how you doin’?” Nope, that’s not a pick-up line, it’s the concept behind this free meditation app designed to offer personalized solutions to foster space between your thoughts and your reactions. In this constantly-changing time, it’s important to give yourself some grace. Mindful breathing and a calmer perspective can help.

“Mindfulness often refers to a mental state of awareness in which one focuses on the present moment, calmly accepting and leaning into one's feelings, thoughts, and even bodily sensations. You don’t just think or feel something in passing, you know it, sit with it, and embrace it,” says Newman.

Yoga with Adriene

The calm voice and chill flows of Adriene, a yoga instructor, will help you start or end your day in zen style. She also offers meditations for a mindful moment amidst the daily grind.

“Practicing meditation can help create ‘gaps’ in reactivity, which may be useful in getting along with the people you may be quarantined or on lockdown with, especially during such a stressful time,” says Dana Rose Garfin, Ph.D., an academic psychologist in Orange County, California, and an assistant professor at the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing at the University of California, Irvine.

In these times of additional stress, it's helpful to have free services like these in your de-stressing arsenal. Pick one or try them all to find your best fit.

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