It’s yet another frustrating consequence of the coronavirus.

During a time when we need the immunity-boosting, stress-reducing, weight-controlling benefits of exercise more than ever, it’s tougher than ever to stay active.

Fitness centers, from local gyms to YMCA branches, remain closed, which has some people taking quarantine sitting down — in front of the TV.

Thanks to creative problem-solving and the power of technology, you don’t have to be one of them.

The YMCA of Greater Omaha, for one, is encouraging its members and the community to log onto its virtual Plan B, Y Without Walls. The web-based, fitness-at-home resource hub offers everything from group exercise, yoga and on-demand workout videos, as well as swim safety and youth engagement activities.

Y Without Walls provides an opportunity for everyone, including older adults, “to stay engaged, stay active, stay healthy and moving, even from home,” says John Monson, chief advancement officer for YMCA of Greater Omaha.

Y Without Walls, he says, is quickly becoming the most visited page at

“Staying active benefits the body both physically and mentally,” Monson says. “It’s a holistic approach to maintaining balance during this new normal.”

A new Blue Cross Blue Shield Health of America report strengthens the case for regular exercise, linking it to improved overall health; reduced chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and major depression; and potential health care cost savings of more than $4,400 over a four-year span.

Like the YMCA, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska (BCBSNE) is taking a multi-pronged approach to helping its members, employees and the broader community balance the continued pursuit of better health with coronavirus precautions.

Access to Blue365 gives BCBSNE members a leg-up on embracing healthy, active living during quarantine and beyond.

The program provides exclusive discounts on health-focused products and services, including virtual health coaching and mindfulness, home fitness equipment, wearable devices and healthy food delivery.

“By taking this time during the stay-at-home recommendations to focus on making healthy choices, you are setting yourself up for success during this pandemic and for your future you,” says Caroline Kahnk, BCBSNE’s wellness coordinator.

Within the organization, BCBSNE has taken steps to continue prioritizing employee health and fitness.

“Even though most of our workforce is working remotely during this time, our leadership has kept the doors open to our onsite wellness center that’s available to our employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Kahnk says.

Beyond that, BCBSNE has shifted its wellness programming to a virtual format with remote group fitness, mindful meditation, lunch and learns, and dietitian consultations.

“Many individuals who did not normally attend in-person classes are trying them virtually because they are so approachable and easy to join,” Kahnk says. “We record as many of our offerings as we can so employees can go back and watch them at a later date if they miss the live events.”

To get the most from any virtual workout — be it Y provided, company sponsored or through a platform such as Zwift or Down Dog – Kahnk suggests:

• Have fun. “Exercise should be activities that you enjoy so find a class or activity that interests you.”

• Establish accountability. “Invite others to try out a virtual workout with you.”

• Show up consistently. “Once you know what you enjoy, plan it into your day so it is part of your new routine.”

National Walk @ Lunch Day raises $4,000+ for Special Olympics Nebraska

BCBSNE invited the entire community to focus on wellness on April 29, what would normally be the organization’s annual National Walk @ Lunch Day.

This year, in light of pandemic precautions, BCBSNE changed its approach. It recommended that people spend 30 minutes staying active and safe, whether that meant following along to a workout video or app, walking outside while practicing social distancing, or taking time to slow down and meditate.

A total of 1,139 individuals, 30 employer groups and 116 school groups pledged participation and, as a result, BCBSNE donated more than $4,000 to Special Olympics Nebraska ($1 for every individual and $20 for every school who pledged).

Note: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska is committed to ensuring members get the care they need for coronavirus (COVID-19). View the latest at