Everybody, get moving!

Maintaining an exercise routine when the world goes topsy-turvy

Wed, 06/10/2020 - 7:00pm

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle beaming with physical activity is a challenge for many people on a normal day. Add in a pandemic and that challenge becomes seemingly impossible, for many. Despite what you might be thinking, there are some easy was to maintain physical activity, even when parks, gyms and other routine work-out spots are shuttered. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults perform two-and-a-half hours to five hours per week of moderate intensity workouts, or one hour and 15 minutes to two-and-a-half hours per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic workouts. Additionally, the department recommends adults spend at least two days each week focusing on muscle-strengthening activities. 

Indoor aerobic activities can be as simple as walking briskly around the house for two or three sessions each day of 10 to 15 minute bursts, dancing to your favorite music or using cardio machines, as highlighted by the American College of Sports Medicine. Outdoors, the ACSM suggests going for a walk or jog (while maintaining six feet away from others), enjoying a bicycle ride, gardening and lawn work. 

“The weather has been gorgeous! Get outside and go for a walk on the breakwater, or hike one of our beautiful mountains,” said Hunter Grindle, owner of Hybrid Fitness in Thomaston, when asked how people can easily stay active. 

Kelly Norman, the Fitness Center Director at Clarkson University in New York, devised a series of simple exercises one can do while taking quick breaks from working, without leaving their workspace. Among them are thigh stretches (sit on one side of the chair and pull one ankle up towards the bottom of the chair; switch sides), leg squats (stand in front of the chair and perform the act of sitting down without touching the chair; perform 10 reps per set on three occasion) and desk pushups (lean against the desk and push your body away). 

Establish a reward system as a way to motivate yourself to remain physically active. The reward could be a treat or as simple as allowing yourself to watch an episode of your favorite television show. 

Jim Beitzel, clinical athletic trainer and clinical coordinator for the Northwestern Medicine Athletic Training and Sports Performance Clinic at Northwestern Medicine Orthopaedics, encourages athletes to focus on the basics and simply maintain training, rather than attempt to progress training.

“Planks, push-ups, squats, lunge variations, and mobility drills are all good body weight drills excellent for variation to the athlete’s training norm,” he wrote in a blog for Northwestern Medicine, which has ties to the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “Focus on the basics. Planks, push-ups, squats, lunge variations, and mobility drills are all good body weight drills excellent for variation to the athlete’s training norm. This is not the time to progress your training, but rather maintain. Give attention during this time to the areas that you’re deficient in. We all know those exercises we “hate” doing are probably the ones we need the most. This period of forced deloading will go a long way in letting the athlete’s body recuperate.”

Beitzel recommends athletes select three to four exercise plans, to be alternated, targeting several areas of the body through a workout that provides four rounds of five exercises to be performed in 45 to 60 second bursts, followed by 15 to 30 seconds of rest, across a 30 to 45 minute training period. 

Athletes, Beitzel noted, should practice deceleration and re-acceleration drills by using rapid changing direction drills.

Place cones on the ground in any configuration, Beitzel said, and have someone call out a color while you race to touch the color. Repeat the drill in 10 to 15 second periods with 20 to 30 second rest periods.