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Maintaining your health is more than just not getting a life-threatening illness, even during the pandemic. But as orders to stay home have dragged on, many of us have missed our daily physical activity, compromising our physical health in other ways. It is time to change that.
“Almost all chronic diseases are related to inactivity,” said Jay Polsgrove, associate professor and coordinator of the Exercise Science Program at Husson University. “When you exercise [and] elevating things for a specific period of time for a short period is when you get the health benefits. “
But while that might have meant going to the gym in the past, that’s not possible right now in many cases. On May 11, some gyms and fitness centers in Maine could reopen for individual personal training and outdoor fitness classes with fewer than 10 participants. But gyms generally won’t reopen until June 1, during Phase Two of Maine’s reopening plan.
Polsgrove and James Graves, professor of exercise science, health and sports at the University of Southern Maine, agreed that the best thing to do when it comes to exercising is to keep exercising regularly, even if you’ve quit from your usual exercise routine. After all, it’s harder to get back on the physical fitness train the longer you wait between workouts.
Here is how you can begin to incorporate exercise into your life again.
Seriously, especially if you’re working from home, the start to getting healthier could be as simple as standing up and walking around the house or going down the block every hour.
“Try to find ways to be more active in your day,” said Polsgrove. “If you can incorporate time into your day to make the body move and circulate blood, that has a great benefit.”
Find something you enjoy
Whether it’s running, skating, jumping rope, or doing yoga, find some form of physical activity that makes you smile while doing it.
“If you don’t like doing it, you won’t be left with that,” Graves said.
Similarly, if exercise doesn’t make you feel good because it’s too intense, relax and adjust to make sure you’re still enjoying your daily workouts.
“If you exercise at an intensity that is uncomfortable, you are less likely to do it again,” Graves said. “Make sure you have fun, [though] it’s okay to push your limits a little bit. “
A variety of workouts will help you maintain good physical shape. Graves referred to the guidelines of the American College of Sports Medicine to know the recommended quantity and quality of physical activity in healthy adults, which include 30 minutes of aerobic activities 5 days a week, strength training to develop and maintain muscle mass and exercises for flexibility.
“We know that physical activity is important to everyone,” said Graves. “You have to mix it up. Do something for the muscles and bones, and a little bit of flexibility and balance. It’s important to participate in a full exercise program.”
Polsgrove said he plays a game with his week of workouts, where he sets out a sketch of his training goals for the week and lets the weather decide what the workout will be for the day. For example, if the weather is nice outside, you will jog; if it is cloudy it will lift weights.
Do you think you don’t have time to exercise? Graves said inserting brief exercise sessions throughout the day is not only effective in maintaining your physical health, but can also help break long days in quarantine.
“You don’t have to do it all at once,” Graves explained. “We know that three sets of exercise lasting 10 minutes each are as beneficial as one set of 30 minutes. You can break your routine [with] things you enjoy doing. “
If you don’t know where to start, try the stairs.
“There is nothing wrong with climbing stairs,” said Graves. “Do it for 10 minutes, three times a day, and that’s 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity. I’m not going up and down the stairs for an hour, but I can do it for 10 minutes.”
Use what you have
Similarly, there are other ways to use what you have to keep fit, even if you’re in a small space or don’t have stairs.
“Almost anything that provides resistance or weight can be used in place on weights or weights,” Graves said. “You can fill the milk [jugs] with water: they weigh about 12 pounds each. There are many instructional videos on that. exist [also] exercises you can do using furniture in your home. “
If your homes are especially tight, try exercising outdoors (safely, of course, Graves said, always bring a mask).
Do an exercise ritual
Science shows that rituals help with motivation. Polsgrove said he has a ritual to set up his exercise environment at home, where he moves chairs out of the way, puts down mats, lifts weights, and plays upbeat music.
“It feels like you’re transitioning to an exercise environment,” he said. “Make it a formal moment of the day. If it’s informal, it’s easy to move on to doing something else. “
Setting a specific time and recording the activity you’ve done that day can also help set the habit in your mind.
“Sometimes people like to journal or keep track of what they did,” said Polsgrove.
Train (even virtually) with a friend
Polsgrove and Graves recognized that the lack of a social element makes exercise an additional challenge.
“That social component is an important motivator, and that is especially challenging now because we are being asked to avoid ourselves,” Graves said. “Given the requirement for social distancing, it is now even more difficult to motivate yourself to participate.”
Finding a friend to train with you, even if it’s practically by video chat, will motivate you to stick to your training plan. Polsgrove said he uses a similar tactic for his personal training clients.
“When I’m doing personal training with people, I hire them on a contract [about] when are the days you can exercise [and the] times of the day, ”said Polsgrove. “Create obligations that you and a friend are going to meet at a certain time.”
When it comes to training videos, Graves said there are seemingly limitless possibilities online. He said some yoga, pilates, and other exercise instructors have traded online classes for a small subscription fee, but there are also a number of free resources.
Discovering how to make exercise work for a shelter-in-place is not only a good way to stay healthy now and possible future blockages, but also to incorporate physical fitness into your overall daily life.
“It gives us strength and resolve for the future, trying to be more organized and have a better understanding of what exercise means to us,” said Polsgrove. “Creating a home routine you can have when you can’t go to the gym is significant [to have] for the future.”
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