May 10, 2020

Students Share Pro Tips To Stay Physically Active While At Home

From TikTok Dances to virtual 5Ks, students and school leaders are finding creative ways to encourage activity.


Remember when we would walk between classes, practice with teammates after school, or walk two minutes to the school cafeteria to eat lunch? Within hours, these little moments of activity suddenly vanished from our day. School communities across the country are now searching for new, creative ways to stay active while at home. The good news? Many students across the nation are seeing the positive effects of staying physically active during the pandemic: how it reduces stress, helps us get into shape or stay in shape, and allows us to stay connected with friends.

Joy Granetz, Ph.D., PLLC, a member of The Social Institute’s Research Advisory Committee, reinforced what students are finding and shared, “We can benefit from incorporating healthy lifestyle factors into our daily routine that support emotional well-being, such as a regular sleep routine, healthy eating habits, and physical exercise.”

Exercise fuels the five inches between our ears. But we don’t have to be Simone Biles crushing the handstand challenge to stay active at home. Our team (virtually) huddled with TSI’s student ambassadors about creative ways students and adults can all break a sweat while in quarantine. Here’s what they had to say about incorporating technology, social media trends, and will-power into daily routines. Whether you’re a student, parent, or educator, consider adopting some of these ideas yourself, sharing with your child(ren), or incorporating them into your school culture and community activities.


Fitness studios and gyms are now live-streaming many of their group workout classes, which is an easy way to stay active while socializing with others. (Win-win!) For instance, CrunchLive is offering non-members a free 45-day trial of its online group classes. 

Can’t find a workout class you like? No problem. Search fitness instructors’ Instagram pages for workouts, or browse YouTube for tons of free workouts and yoga classes, including celebrity trainer Joe Wicks ‘PE with Joe’ YouTube channel — a favorite among students! 

Rather be watching Netflix? Play to what motivates you. Start a habit of only watching your favorite movies or shows while you are working out — doesn’t matter if you’re on the floor doing push-ups or running on the treadmill. With live streaming, we now have endless fitness inspiration at our fingertips. 


Thankfully, we’re living in the TikTok era! Home to over 800 million monthly active users, who spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the platform, TikTok is at the intersection of creativity and activity. Many students are staying active by learning Tik Tok dances, which are harder than they look! See if you got the moves for Drake’s TikTok challenge, or consider having students coach family members on a TikTok dance. As a student shared, “It might seem impossible, but just try.”

TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is even planning to hire 10,000 employees globally, so this whole dance craze may not be just a phase!


When students at our partner schools across the country navigated the latest #WinAtSocial lesson this month, which focused on creative ways to stay active while at home, 29% shared that they would be most excited about participating in a virtual 5K to raise money for groups impacted by COVID-19. The most popular answer among students was competing against other classes in a weekly workout challenge (33%). 

Our team at The Social Institute recommends school administrators lean into both insights, and even combine them by inviting classes to compete against each other in a school-wide virtual 5K, where all money raised goes towards people or charities in need. Bonus: let your students brainstorm what the most active class wins!  #motivation 

During our latest #WinAtSocial curriculum lesson, which focuses on staying physically active and healthy while at home, the majority of students nationwide shared that they would most like to compete against other classes in a weekly workout challenge. 


Need more accountability to stay active? How about getting a nudge from your friend? Students are now turning to social media fitness challenges to encourage each other to break a sweat. The push-up challengeplank challenge, and Plank That Song” challenge are some of the most popular challenges making their way around Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. 

How it works: You open your social media account and notice you’ve been tagged by another friend to complete 10 push-ups (or another exercise). You record yourself doing 10 push-ups, post it to social media, then tag your friends and challenge them to do the same. Once they complete it, they tag their other friends, and boom, we’re all getting into shape! 

During our #WinAtSocial curriculum lesson, the majority of students (29%) across the country shared that they prefer or would consider trying a walk, run, or workout with others over video chat or audio chat. These ideas, along with Apple Watches, RunKeeper, Nintendo Switch Ring Fit Adventure, and Nike Run Club, are all ways students are tracking their movement, staying active, and socializing with others. (Win-Win-Win!)

In our latest #WinAtSocial lesson, the majority of students shared that they walk, run, or workout with others over a video chat or audio chat — or they would at least consider trying it.


If students don’t or can’t use social media, or simply don’t feel like the idea of an online workout class, follow this student’s lead and take a walk or run during the day. Bella, a sophomore in college, who is also one of our interns at The Social Institute, shared: “I personally like to schedule time in my calendar. By making this time for myself, I’m more likely to follow through with my fitness plans.”

Remember, we don’t need to wait for the nudge from friends in order to make this happen. Take care of yourself starting today, even if it means stepping away from tech and starting your favorite workout tomorrow. (Psst: Studies show you’re more likely to workout if you pick out your workout clothes for the next day and have them ready to go. It’s worth a try!)


While we may not be able to walk with friends from class to class or high-five others after a great practice or workout, we can control the controllable in the weeks and months ahead. Let’s improvise and find creative ways to weave exercise into our lives, and into the lives of our students, faculty, and administrators. It’s a key step that will fuel, inspire, and connect all of us this spring and into the coming school year. On your mark, get set, GO! 


Related Articles:

Students Share Life-Lessons Learned By Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic   

Students Nationwide Step Up to Help Their Communities Stay Positive

EMA Special Report: ‘The Next Normal: How K–12 Independent Schools Can Survive and Thrive in a New Landscape’

The Social Institute partners with schools nationwide to empower students, parents and educators to navigate social-emotional health, social media, and technology positively through comprehensive, gamified lessons that meet students on their level. We have partnered with forward-thinking institutions across the nation, including Ravenscroft School, Gaston Day School, Miss Porter’s School, Gilman School, Woodward Academy, U.S. Olympic athletes, Duke Men’s Basketball, ESPN, and others. For more information, contact us.