Feeling like social distancing is putting a crimp your regular exercise routine? Between the stress and changing routines, and constantly changing health recommendations it’s harder than ever to maintain a regular physical activity regime. Add to that 100-degree temperature and its a struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle at a time when staying healthy is imperative. For both our physical health and mental sanity it is crucial that folks maintain a healthy level of physical activity.
You will feel better, have more energy, sleep better, improve immune function, and a host of other benefits too numerous to mention here. If you have not been active then start slowly as Woody Guthrie once said “ take it easy, but take it”.
Despite all the requirements to be socially distant we can still be social and we can still stay physically active! Read on for tips on:
- Tackling chores around the house
- Exercising During COVID tips from the Mayo Clinic
- Do I need to wear a face mask when I exercise outside? Advice from the Cleveland Clinic
- 5 of the best exercises you can ever do according to Harvard Medical School
- How to avoid heat-related illnesses tips from the Mayo Clinic
Time to tackle the chores around the house. This is a perfect opportunity to catch up on all the chores around the house that we have been meaning to get to for the longest time. Now’s the time, all the following and more count as physical activity.
- Heavy housework
- Go4Life Exercise Videos
You can also start planning to start your regular routine again successfully. You can take time to write down or revisit your goals. If you have been cooped up and not physically active. When you start back, go at a comfortable pace and gradually build back up.
Read more about managing interruptions and other tips on how to exercise again after a break from the National Institute on Aging. Almost anyone, at any age, can exercise safely and get meaningful benefits. Staying safe while you exercise is always important, whether you’re just starting a new activity or haven’t been active for a long time.
Exercising During COVID tips from the Mayo Clinic
As communities lift at-home restrictions, it’s important to keep taking steps to protect yourself from COVID-19. Find out how to safely travel, visit restaurants, go to the gym, and more during the reopening.
Do I need to wear a face mask when I exercise outside? Advice from the Cleveland Clinic
Most of us have seen the pictures of crowded parks and trails with hoards of people bunched together. Some people in the crowd are wearing face coverings and others aren’t.
“Generally, when people ask if they need to wear a face mask when running outside, the answer to that question is that it depends where you’re at,” says Dr. Lewis.
Some states and cities have issued their own specific requirements regarding face masks, so you’ll first need to check with your local health officials. But it really boils down to where you live and where you’re planning on running.
As a general rule, wear a face mask when you’re running in an area where social distancing is hard to maintain. If you’re going to be passing people or weaving in and out of crowds or others around you, you’ll want to wear a mask, says Dr. Lewis.
But if you’re running alone in your neighborhood where you occasionally see another runner or dog walker, it’s likely that you don’t need to wear a face covering. Instead, be mindful of crossing the street to avoid getting too close or give the other person at least six feet when passing.
The same rules apply during other outdoor activities like hiking or biking. (But keep in mind that wearing a face mask is never a substitute for social distancing.)
5 of the best exercises you can ever do according to Harvard Medical School
If you’re not an athlete or serious exerciser — and want to work out for your health or to fit in your clothes better — the gym scene can be intimidating. Just having to walk by treadmills, stationary bikes, and weight machines can be enough to make you head straight back home to the couch.
Yet some of the best physical activities for your body don’t require the gym or that you get fit enough to run a marathon. These “workouts” can do wonders for your health. They’ll help keep your weight under control, improve your balance and range of motion, strengthen your bones, protect your joints, prevent bladder control problems, and even ward off memory loss.
No matter your age or fitness level, these activities are some of the best exercises you can do and will help you get in shape and lower your risk for disease:
1. Tai chi
Of course, let’s start with Tai Chi and ideal exercise for a pandemic in that you can exercise outdoors while socially distancing from others. This Chinese martial art that combines movement and relaxation is good for both body and mind. In fact, it’s been called “meditation in motion.” Tai chi is made up of a series of graceful movements, one transitioning smoothly into the next. Because the classes are offered at various levels, tai chi is accessible — and valuable — for people of all ages and fitness levels. “It’s particularly good for older people because balance is an important component of fitness, and balance is something we lose as we get older,” Dr. Lee says.
Take a class to help you get started and learn the proper form. You can find tai chi programs at your local YMCA, health club, community center, or senior center.
You might call swimming the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body and takes the strain off painful joints so you can move them more fluidly. “Swimming is good for individuals with arthritis because it’s less weight-bearing,” explains Dr. I-Min Lee, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Research has found that swimming can also improve your mental state and put you in a better mood. Water aerobics is another option. These classes help you burn calories and tone up.
3. Strength training
If you believe that strength training is a macho, brawny activity, think again. Lifting light weights won’t bulk up your muscles, but it will keep them strong. “If you don’t use muscles, they will lose their strength over time,” Dr. Lee says.
Muscle also helps burn calories. “The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, so it’s easier to maintain your weight,” says Dr. Lee. Similar to other exercise, strength training may also help preserve brain function in later years.
Before starting a weight training program, be sure to learn the proper form. Start light, with just one or two pounds. You should be able to lift the weights 10 times with ease. After a couple of weeks, increase that by a pound or two. If you can easily lift the weights through the entire range of motion more than 12 times, move up to slightly heavier weight.
Walking is simple, yet powerful. It can help you stay trim, improve cholesterol levels, strengthen bones, keep blood pressure in check, lift your mood, and lower your risk for a number of diseases (diabetes and heart disease, for example). A number of studies have shown that walking and other physical activities can even improve memory and resist age-related memory loss.
All you need is a well-fitting and supportive pair of shoes. Start with walking for about 10 to15 minutes at a time. Over time, you can start to walk farther and faster, until you’re walking for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week.
5. Kegel exercises
These exercises won’t help you look better, but they do something just as important — strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence. While many women are familiar with Kegels, these exercises can benefit men too.
To do a Kegel exercise correctly, squeeze the muscles you would use to prevent yourself from passing urine or gas. Hold the contraction for two or three seconds, then release. Make sure to completely relax your pelvic floor muscles after the contraction. Repeat 10 times. Try to do four to five sets a day.
Many of the things we do for fun (and work) count as exercise. Raking the yard counts as physical activity. So does ballroom dancing and playing with your kids or grandkids. As long as you’re doing some form of aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, and you include two days of strength training a week, you can consider yourself an “active” person.
How to avoid heat-related illnesses tips from the Mayo Clinic
When you exercise in hot weather, keep these precautions in mind:
- Watch the temperature. Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat alerts. Know what the temperature is expected to be for the duration of your planned outdoor activity. In running events, there are “flag” warnings that correspond to the degree of heat and humidity. For example, a yellow flag requires careful monitoring, and races are canceled in black flag conditions.
- Get acclimated. If you’re used to exercising indoors or in cooler weather, take it easy at first when you exercise in the heat. It can take at least one to two weeks to adapt to the heat. As your body adapts to the heat over time, gradually increase the length and intensity of your workouts.
- Know your fitness level. If you’re unfit or new to exercise, be extra cautious when working out in the heat. Your body may have a lower tolerance to the heat. Reduce your exercise intensity and take frequent breaks.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration is a key factor in heat illness. Help your body sweat and cool down by staying well-hydrated with water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink fluids.
If you plan to exercise intensely, consider a sports drink instead of water. Sports drinks can replace the sodium, chloride, and potassium you lose through sweating. Avoid alcoholic drinks because they can actually promote fluid loss.
- Dress appropriately. Lightweight, loose-fitting clothing helps sweat evaporate and keeps you cooler. Avoid dark colors, which can absorb heat. If possible, wear a light-colored, wide-brimmed hat.
- Avoid midday sun. Exercise in the morning or evening, when it’s likely to be cooler outdoors. If possible, exercise in shady areas, or do a water workout in a pool.
- Wear sunscreen. A sunburn decreases your body’s ability to cool itself and increases the risk of skin cancer.
- Have a backup plan. If you’re concerned about the heat or humidity, stay indoors. Work out at the gym, walk laps inside the mall or climb stairs inside an air-conditioned building.
- Understand your medical risks. Certain medical conditions or medications can increase your risk of a heat-related illness. If you plan to exercise in the heat, talk to your doctor about precautions.
Heat-related illnesses are largely preventable. By taking some basic precautions, your exercise routine doesn’t have to be sidelined when the heat is on.