Staying Active at Home – Mind, Body, and Spirit

As a society, we’re used to going, going, going –driving, working, or thinking at a mile a minute. However, there are times when external circumstances force us to slow down and change our daily routine. As we all deal with these unprecedented circumstances and spend more time at home, we at SmartLife VIA Willow Valley have created a handy guide to stay active from head to toe. Here’s a list of things to do during social distancing.

Broaden Your Mind

Challenge your mind and memory by learning something new. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, science suggests staying cognitively and socially active may support brain health. And in this day and age of technology, we’ve never had more access to great learning and reading materials. Here are some ideas for keeping your mind active during extended periods of time at home.

Online Classes

Dozens of colleges and universities now offer free online classes. In fact, several Ivy League schools including Yale, Harvard, and Cornell have created a library of nearly 500 courses, ranging from topics in marketing, science, history, and more. If traditional lecture-style classes don’t interest you, don’t despair. There are dozens of online courses for more creative thinkers, like Guitar for Beginners or personal development classes.


Taking online classes isn’t the only way to exercise your mind. Offered in both online and print mediums, puzzle books are a great way to pass the time with activities such as Sudoku, crosswords, word searches, cryptograms, and more.

In 2019, the University of Exeter conducted a study; analyzing 19,000 participants between the ages of 50 and 93 to uncover just how important keeping an active mind is. As the largest online study of its kind to date, researchers found that older adults who regularly take part in word and number puzzles have sharper brains and can perform as well as-or better -than people 10+ years their junior.

Actual puzzles are great way to challenge your mind as well; especially puzzles with larger piece counts. And, after you’ve put the entire puzzle together, it’s a work of art you’ll be able to frame and hang in your home.


Thanks to the internet and online stores, access to great books is only a click away. Some public libraries offer digital books and other resources to those with a library card; independent book stores offer options to ship or pick up book orders, and the world of e-readers and audiobooks continue to grow. The number of books, both traditionally- and self-published continues to climb year after year, meaning there are millions of pieces of content just waiting to be discovered by you.

Also worth checking into is if your nearest public library has hoopla, a digital media service that allows library card holders to borrow movies, music, audiobooks, ebooks, comics and TV shows to enjoy on computers, tablets, phones – and even TVs. Titles can be streamed immediately, or downloaded to phones or tablets for offline enjoyment later.

Learn a New Language

In addition to educational courses, puzzles, and reading, one of the most engaging and time-consuming activities to do at home is to learn a new language, whether it be a dialect you’re always wanted to speak or American Sign Language.

While Rosetta Stone has the reputation of being the most widely-known at-home language instruction, there are dozens of free alternatives for a cost-effective learning experience in a variety of learning mediums. From Duolingo’s popular phone app to Babbel’s lessons with conversational practice and culture, learning a new language has never been easier, or more affordable.

Stay in Shape

If a gym or other type of fitness center isn’t accessible, not to worry. There are a handful of ways to keep your body fit at home.

Try Exercising From Home

One of the most popular ways to work out when inside is exercising from home using online videos. On YouTube, one can find a litany of workout videos for any activity and skill level desired. Look up videos such as “10 Minute Cardio Workout” or “At Home Exercises for Seniors” to find workout tutorials created to be completed at home using minimal equipment.

In light of recent events, more and more gyms are creating online classes for the public to take. In fact, Willow Valley Communities’ has joined in, too. Willow Valley Communities’ YouTube channel has a new playlist-Staying Fit with Willow Valley Communities-and brings the Fitness Team to your living room with several five minute videos walking through a variety of workouts.

In addition to free YouTube workouts, there are paid subscriptions for other programs, like Pure Barre on Demand, FitBit Premium, and DailyBurn (among others). These paid subscriptions often offer a wide variety of workouts.


While more low-impact than a HIIT workout, yoga is an excellent way to stay fit (and relaxed) while working out at home. Not only does yoga lend itself to athletes of every skill level, it has a multitude of benefits for the body and mind. Dr. Natalie Nevins, DO, claims that not only can yoga increase flexibility, muscle strength, and respiration, but it also can help relieve chronic stress patterns and sharpen concentration.

Explore Your Own Space

Last but not least, take the opportunity of not having a gym or fitness center to explore your own neighborhood or nearby park. Especially if the weather is nice, walking around your yard, cul-de-sac, or entire neighborhood offers you a breath of fresh air, keeps you active, and gives you a chance to see neighbors you may not interact with as often as you’d like.

Feed Your Soul

Staying active at home doesn’t have to mean just working out your body or mind; there are dozens of activities to do that can refill your creative well. Projects or tasks that allow you to indulge in a passion are just as helpful to your mind as completing a puzzle or trying to learn something new.

Write Letters to Family

Who doesn’t like to receive thoughtful, handwritten mail? In a world where direct mail consists of bills, catalogs, and junk, it’s a thrill to open your mailbox and receive a heart-felt letter from a loved one. Writing letters is just as fulfilling as receiving them, and offers a great way to stay in contact with friends and family while also creating a keepsake to cherish for years to come.

Get Creative

Creativity manifests in hundreds of different ways, and what better time to flex your creativity muscles than a time when you’re stuck inside?

  • If you’re a green thumb, order some pots, soil, and seeds on the internet and create your own garden on an empty windowsill.
  • Do you like to cook? Take this time to try a new recipe and share the finished product with the loved ones in your home.
  • Similar to cooking, if you’re a mixology enthusiast, now would be a great time to experiment and mix the perfect drink.
  • Artists-whether your medium is canvas, clay, a camera, or something else-can use this time at home in a comfortable setting to reflect and create.
  • Writers, poets, singers, and songwriters can find the quiet time needed to create their next masterpiece at home.
  • Woodworkers, or those who enjoy building and working with their hands, now have the time to build whatever their heart desires.

Tour the World from Your Couch

Maybe you’re itching to explore the world but are at home. No mattertake your first (virtual) step of exploration and discover the outside world from the comfort and convenience of your home.

For those who enjoy art, peruse a dozen of the world’s beautiful museums and their exhibits via virtual tours. From London to Seoul, there are thousands of exhibits to discover, explore, and enjoy.

There are virtual tours and 3D models of outdoor sites, too. For example, the National Park Service offers virtual tours, complete with interactive 3D models, of Yellowstone National Park and the geysers found there. Watch videos, view photos, and learn more about the incredible feats of nature while on your couch.

Speaking of feats of nature, who wouldn’t want to experience the 7 Wonders of the World? You can now, no passport needed. Thanks to Google Street Treks and a handful of other software, anyone can access and enjoy the 7 Wonders of the World from their home.

Watch Religious Services

Many religious institutions stream, or have recorded video of, their services for all to watch. If you’re unable to leave your house, that doesn’t mean you’re unable to worship. Simply look on the website of your regular place of worship to see if they have a virtual option, or search Google for your preferred denomination and “virtual service” to get started.

Rediscover Your Favorite Movies & TV Shows

Thanks to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more, there are thousands of movies and TV shows at your disposal. Are there movies you’ve been meaning to watch but just haven’t gotten around to seeing? What about TV shows everyone is talking about that you have yet to watch? Pop some popcorn, grab your favorite candy from the cupboard, and treat yourself to a movie day.

Broadway Shows & Operas

Though you may be inside, the ability to watch live performances isn’t too far away. If you’re a fan of the stage, you can still watch Broadway shows and operas. Sites like BroadwayHD offer full productions of musicals for a subscription fee while Netflix and Amazon Prime offer several full productions and “behind-the-scenes” movies and documentaries.

Opera fans can stream performances straight from the Metropolitan Opera as well. While some require a subscription, others are free to watch and change every day. The Metropolitan Opera is just one option; dozens of symphonies across the world are also streaming performances for the public to enjoy.

Video-Chatting with Friends and Family

While video-chatting might be a regular occurrence already, it’s great to check in again with your loved ones over FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Marco Polo, or another video-sharing application. Instead of just saying “Hello,” you and your loved ones can coordinate games, movie-watching groups, or full-blown parties in your respective spaces while still staying connected through video. Whether you’re three miles or 3,000 miles apart, you’re just a phone call away from seeing each other.

Stay Home with SmartLife

Sometimes life calls you to stay at home-whether for personal health reasons, national weather issues, or the current, unprecedented situation with COVID-19-but that doesn’t mean you have to be alone and idle. We hope that you were able to find a few ideas in our guide above that helps you stay active and engaged while at home.

With SmartLife VIA Willow Valley, our members stay independent, enjoying vibrant lives in their own homes, with the peace of mind that should enhanced long-term care ever be needed, their Lifecare contract has them covered-even with at home care. For more information on how to join SmartLife, ask us a question or request more information.