Posted 10 months ago
Staying Physically Active During a Pandemic
Since life changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, have you found yourself spending way too many hours streaming TV or mindlessly surfing the Internet? For those of us that have found ourselves suddenly working from home, the frequent trips to the refrigerator, inactivity, and isolation haven’t helped our fitness regimes. As a result, our physical fitness (and mental health) have taken a turn for the worse. With gyms closed and many fearful to leave their home, being physically active can be a challenge.
Although it’s more challenging to exercise during the pandemic, it’s more important than ever. Now is the time to ensure your body and immune system are in shape because a healthy body is the best defense against a COVID-19 infection. We know that the way to optimize health is to have a healthy lifestyle which includes regular exercise, good nutrition, adequate sleep, and stress management. Exercise is a lifestyle behavior that not only promotes physical fitness but also tends to make us more mindful of our nutrition, improve our sleep, and help us better manage stress. Additionally, being physically active can promote better immune health. So, for those individuals struggling with getting on track to get healthier, working on physical fitness is an excellent place to start.
There are many simple ways to stay physically active during a pandemic, while staying within the confines of your home. One of the most important strategies to make this happen is to put movement on your daily calendar. Depending on what is best for your lifestyle, you can allocate a 30-60 min block of time or divide that movement up into several 5-10 minute sessions that you intersperse throughout the day. Both strategies are effective ways to improve your health.
Here are some strategies to help you stay physically active during a pandemic improve your fitness level that don’t require equipment or cost money:
STAND EVERY HOUR:
Make sure to get up and stand for a few minutes at least once an hour. This simple strategy can counteract much of the negative impact sitting has on your health. Setting a timer on your phone, Alexa, watch, or computer can be a good reminder to do this throughout the day.
There are many exercises you can do at home without any equipment that utilizes your body’s own resistance. Exercises as wall sits, squats, lunges, planks, jumping jacks, and push ups are simple exercises that will help build strength. You can Google how to do each of these exercises if you are not familiar with them.
Taking the stairs is a great way to get fit. Go up and down your stairs until you are winded and your muscles are fatigued. Allow a few minute breaks to recover and then repeat 2-3 times. If you don’t have steps in our home, many local high schools and community colleges have unused stadiums right now that you can access and still maintain social distancing.
TAKE A WALK (OR A BIKE RIDE):
If it is safe for you to go outside, take a walk or hike in a quiet area of town. Many popular trails are crowded so it is best to find some of the less-visited trails in our local parks and preserves that you can maintain social distancing and still get a good dose of nature. If you are unable to go outside, walk laps in your house.
Do you like Yoga or Pilates? Prefer a strength training class, boot camp, or need a class to get you motivated to run on your treadmill? These and many other types of classes are offered free online. Through YouTube, Amazon Prime, and many exercise studios like Peloton© and Orangetheory® Fitness you can access a seemingly endless number of classes. One of my favorites has been the Peloton® App which my whole family has been using this last month to do yoga, cycling, and strength, training classes. They are offering a free 90-day subscription right now. The Parade newsletter put together a great list of online exercise classes available right now which you can view here.
You can click here to participate in virtual wellness classes with Seawell Healthy Living Center! Classes are offered several times a day.
Staying active during a pandemic while being physically active at home is possible. Connect with the resources that will help you find ways to mix up your routines and keep it fun while working towards better health.
Disclaimer: You should be in good physical condition and be able to participate in the exercise. Suggestions above are examples of a general nature and may not necessarily be appropriate for all individuals or fitness levels. Consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.
About Heidi Rula, M.D.
Dr. Heidi Rula joined Ironwood in 2018 to launch the Integrative Oncology program. She is board certified in family medicine and fellowship trained in Integrative Medicine. Dr. Rula has been a practicing physician in the Phoenix area for approximately 20 years and has been recognized by her colleagues as one of Phoenix’s “Top Doctors” on multiple occasions.
Dr. Rula has played a key role in bringing integrative medicine to the Valley. She served as the medical director of the University of Arizona Integrative Health Center where she leads a team of physicians and complementary practitioners in a unique model of integrative primary care that she helped to develop along with Dr. Weil and the UA Center for Integrative Medicine.
About Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers
Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers (ICRC) is the largest multi-specialty oncology network in the Greater Metro Phoenix area. They have over 100 medical providers, a robust Integrative Services program, and a dedicated clinical research department. Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers has 15 valley locations and five comprehensive cancer care centers that offer a multi-disciplinary approach for expedited personalized patient care. For more information, please visit www.ironwoodcrc.com.