Social distancing is no excuse for doing away with your fitness routine! At least that’s what I keep telling myself. I know how easy it is to just sit on the couch and watch Netflix. Trust me, I have struggled with that recently.
The gyms are closed, so what are we supposed to do? Well, I’ve found there are actually plenty of ways to stay fit and moving during this time. I talked to Opal Riddle, PT/OT manager at The Christ Hospital, to get some answers. She not only explained how important it is to stay active, but also had some creative ways to get a workout in. Plus, she talked about ways to keep your kids active, and maybe even get them out from in front of those video games.
Why is it so important to stay active during this time we’re at home?Opal:
As little as 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can help you manage your weight, lower blood pressure, reduce risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes, improve bone health, enhance brain health and most importantly help us with stress. Regular, moderate physical activity is one of the best prescriptions for a healthy and happy life. There are not many things in life that are free with so many physical and mental benefits.
What are some different routines we can do to exercise at home?
Opal: The main things to look for are exercises that are aerobic, weight-bearing and provide resistance. If you don’t have equipment or weights at home, get creative! Rolls of pennies in a sock can become a two-pound weight, and a gallon of milk weighs around eight pounds, for example.
I have two kids at home. Are there any tips for keeping kids on a fitness routine? Opal:
As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life. And it can help reduce kids’ boredom, so try to vary activities. For example: bike riding, going to a park, hiking a trail, dancing to music, and even jumping rope. This can help develop their bone banks when they’re young and offer a great aerobic workout.
Research shows active kids have a higher fitness level and healthier body weight, both of which can help with confidence and self-esteem. Put together a calendar of events to provide structure. Don’t forget to always have a back-up plan for inclement weather.
Injuries can be a big concern when it comes to exercise. Are there any tips in preventing them?Opal:
There is no magic formula, but improving flexibility combined with warming up and cooling down after a workout can help reduce delayed muscle soreness and prepare your muscles. Don’t start any new exercise without knowing the proper form. A trainer or physical therapist can help tailor a workout for your health conditions and address your goals. Also, varying your workouts helps reduce overuse and can challenge your body in different ways. If you do suffer an injury from exercise, please seek the advice of a medical professional if pain persists or seems abnormal.
Some people are trying to use this time to get in shape. What is the best advice for someone who is just starting out on any fitness program?Opal:
It’s important to keep it simple and set goals. It takes over 2,000 steps to walk one mile based on a 2.3 feet stride length. So if you describe yourself as sedentary, set a goal of walking 3,000 steps a day, then before you know it you will be in the 10,000 steps-a-day club. If you have co-morbidities or health issues, consult your physician or physical therapist to help with a plan. There are a number of classes online, but I like Fitness Blender
, which offers a variety of exercise programs ranging from novice to advanced.
It’s also important to reward yourself for your hard work and discipline. Start planning the celebration!
For older people who are stuck inside, is there anything they could or should be doing to stay active?Opal:
I’d suggest trying a 30-Second Chair Stand. All you need is a chair and stopwatch. This helps test leg strength and endurance, which are important for climbing stairs, walking, and getting out of a chair. This, and a variety of other tests, can be found on the Fullerton Functional Fitness Test
. These tests can help older adults figure out their percentile and can be used as a form of exercise.
Let’s also not forget balance. As we age our risk for falls can increase. The Otago Exercise Program
is a great resource and provides a list of exercises to help with balance. If you have a history of falls, please consult with your primary care provider.Chelsie:
There you have it! It turns out that there are many things we can do to stay in shape as we get through these uncertain times. I know that for me, a simple run is a big stress reliever. If you lack equipment for a certain workout like Opal discussed, get creative! I have seen people use soup cans for weights also. There is always a way!
Make it a family event. My kids and I have been running together as well as doing workouts that we have found online. It’s actually making exercise fun for us all.
Have a great time, and remember to always be safe!
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