Indoor exercises to improve anxiety and depression

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Omari Bernard
By Christian Evans, MA, MDiv, PMP
May 2, 2020

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.

The views expressed in Clinician's Corner blogs are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Psychological Health Center of Excellence or Department of Defense.


  • Very week planned out easy exercises to keep you motivated.Great job keep up the great work

  • I physically can not do any of the above exercises due to fragile bones and joint problems. I have a stairlift. Please advise some other exercises, please.

    • Hi Joyce. We recommend you contact your doctor for exercise recommendations for your specific physical restrictions. 

    • Greetings Joyce,
      I understand your hardship and rest assured that there is always hope. One thing I use to do when I was bed ridden was breathing exercises. I would first take a deep breath and hold it for as long as possible and then exhale slowly with a prayer on my breath for healing. This is one of many different types of exercises one can do and if you try to Google say, 'stationary exercises' you might be surprised what you can find. Hope that will get you started in the right direction... blessing to you. Luke<><

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