Find Free, Virtual Health & Wellness During COVID-19 Outbreak

A guest post by Ally Dowds, a Health & Human Services Research Specialist at the Boston Public Library.

Fitness centers are closed. People are self-isolating in their homes. Boston weather doesn’t always make it easy to get outside. And, social distancing makes it hard to find comfort in supportive groups. So, how can we stay healthy, fit and mentally cope during this outbreak?

Below are a few ideas to keep your physical, mental, and emotional strength strong during this crisis affecting people around the globe.

Virtual Fitness Centers

YMCA Greater Boston

The YMCA Greater Boston established its Stronger Together campaign to help its community stay active and healthy. Team-Y Coaches are hosting Facebook LIVE workout classes. This includes a 7am yoga class and 9am high intensity interval training (HIIT) class. Their “quick hit” videos offer creative at-home workout routines for strength and conditioning, core exercises, pilates, and more. Check your local Y’s social media or click on the link above for similar events that you can join from home with little to no equipment needed. 

Healthworks Community Fitness

Healthworks Community Fitness is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the health and empowerment of women and children from all economic backgrounds, operating out of Dorchester. While the gym is closed, Healthworks currently is offering free, live classes on its Instagram feed. Workouts such as body burn, barre, abs and glutes are available for 24 hours, so you can stop by anytime during the day by accessing the LIVE feed on your phone or tablet. Weights and props are optional.

Planet Fitness

This popular fitness chain is offering free in-home workouts every day at 7pm on Facebook Live. These streaming workouts last about 20 minutes. They are a part of Planet Fitness’ United We Move campaign to keep people active and reduce stress.

Just Dance!

Debbie Allen Virtual Dance Class

One Wednesday, March 18th, famed choreographer Debbie Allen hosted a free Instagram Live class for the public on the Debbie Allen Dance Academy social media page. Debbie encouraged people to get up, dance and get your bodies moving. You can find a recap of this event on the non-profit’s Instagram account, but keep checking back for more classes such as the free ballet and African Dance class for 3 to 7-year-olds held on Saturday, March 21st.

Support Groups

Physical fitness is important, but mental health and emotional support are vital during this time.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage on managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak. But how are local recovery support groups offering services to help individuals stay connected?

Boston Public Health Commission

The Boston Public Health Commission has a listing of online/digital support and recovery groups that are providing virtual meetings and services. Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous offer meetings online or by phone for individuals who are unable to attend face-to-face meetings. Additional support group listings can be found here, in the online/digital recovery support resources section.


Virtual Yoga at the Boston Public Library

Unwind and recenter with a virtual Gentle Yoga class hosted by instructors from Hands to Heart Center. This collaboration with the Boston Public Library is streamed live twice week on Tuesdays (12 p.m.) and Fridays (4 p.m.) through April. More information is available on the BPL calendar


Singer-songwriter, rapper and flutist, Lizzo, is known for lyrics about body positivity and love. She channeled her inner spirituality to produce a “meditation and mantra” with intermittent flute melodies to her Instagram story to help people find peace and healing during this crisis.


New to meditation? Looking for ways to improve your daily practice? Just need some guidance on where to start? The following article from Verywell Mind recommends 21 meditation podcasts for 2020. They are available in a variety of categories such as “For Beginners”, “For Kids”, “For Busy People”, and “For Relieving Stress”. Whatever your need, these podcasts will fill you with techniques, guided meditations, and interviews with experts to help incorporate this practice into your routine.


The Boston Public Library has a limited number of licenses for card holders to sign up for Headspace for free. Licenses expire on the 1st of each calendar month, but you may return here to obtain a new license. Headspace has guided meditations, soothing sounds, videos, articles, and more.

These are just a few resources to keep your mind and body busy, keeping your heart rates and spirits high. Take care and be well.