KITCHENER -- Staying in shape can be tough at the best of times, but during a pandemic it can be a real challenge.

A group at Wilfrid Laurier University is working to promote physical activity at home by bringing live online fitness classes to your living room.

Fitness instructor Elora Austrup is used to teaching group classes on campus, but COVID-19 has pushed her to teach on a new platform.

“What we’re offering right now is free online classes,” she says.

“I had about 28 people in my core class yesterday.”

Anyone is invited to join the livestream classes using Zoom.

“It’s really simple, you just join the Zoom call and the instructor is right there with you,” says Austrup.

“They’re just doing a really good job at keeping everyone healthy, safe and connected,” says Liz Hihnala who participates in Laurier’s online classes

Experts say physical activity is especially important during these times and virtual classes can help maintain motivation.

“It creates a community and gives us some connection in a world where we're just struggling and desperately wanting some connection,” explains Allison Gaudete, a physiotherapist at Grand River Sports Medicine

“Physical exercise has been shown to help decrease depression, help improve mood, help decrease anxiety,” adds Scott Jantzi, a physiotherapist at Woolwich Physiotherapy.

A study by the Angus Reid Institute shows that the mental health of about half of all Canadians has worsened since the pandemic began.

“If people are battling a little bit more in serious conversations, when we have clarity about what we’re doing, exercise can help with that,” says Gaudete.

So, if comfort food and the couch are calling you, an online fitness fix might be the motivation you need to get moving.