Exercise in isolation: Keeping fit while confined to home
BY JIM HOWE
Exercise is even more important during a pandemic, says Carol Sames, PhD, an exercise physiologist and director of the Vitality Fitness Programs at Upstate. She says people can keep moving and keep fit while stuck at home. Here’s her advice:
With a little creativity and flexibility, you can follow the current fitness guidelines for adults: 150 minutes per week of moderate activity, plus two or three sessions of strength training and some flexibility training.
“Within those guidelines, any exercise is important,” Sames says. The exercise doesn’t have to be done all at once; it can be done a few minutes at a time throughout the day.
She also encourages those who have not recently exercised much, or at all, to think about how to get some movement in their day.
Moderate activity means doing something where you can still carry on a conversation. If you can walk 20 or 30 minutes at a time, great, but if you can only walk for five or 10 minutes, break it up that way.
If it is hard to get outdoors to walk, see what can be done indoors, such as going up and down a stairway. Even household tasks like cleaning out a closet can keep one moving. As the weather improves, yardwork could be added.
Little or no equipment? No problem
While gyms and fitness centers are closed, dust off that old stationary bicycle or other piece of exercise equipment you might have, and use that. You may also be able to clear out a space to exercise by shifting some furniture.
A wide variety of exercise videos and articles can be found for free online. These range from heavy-duty aerobics sessions to exercises that can be done while seated.
To get in strength training without a lot of equipment, look for body weight exercises. Push-ups, for example, can be done from a variety of positions, such as against a wall to make them easier.
Lunges and calf raises can be done alone or using simple equipment such as a chair, stability ball or stretchy exercise band.
Flexibility is often lost in the ankles and neck area, so try tracing the letters of the alphabet with each ankle while seated, and moving one’s head from one side to the other, ear to shoulder and chin to chest.
If you happen to be sick while at home, you probably will just want to rest. But if you are only mildly ill and can get up and move around, try something as simple as rearranging a drawer and add more activities as your condition permits.
(Hear Carol Sames, PhD, explain ways to keep fit with limited or no exercise equipment. Click here for her interview on Upstate’s “HealthLink on Air.”)
Take it easy to start
For those who might want to start a new, heavy-duty routine, such as running, Sames cautions that suddenly going out and running can leave you very sore. She suggests a routine of walking for two minutes, then running for one minute, for awhile, gradually increasing the amount of time you run, to accustom your body. And be sure you have adequate footwear.
People should remember that “I didn’t get out of shape in a day or a week or a month, so I want to start slowly, so I can continue to be active,” she advises, adding that people tend to stick to more gradual programs of exercise.
This article is from the spring 2020 Upstate Health magazine, a special edition dealing with the coronavirus.