As the country bands together to slow the spread of COVID-19 (a.k.a., the coronavirus) through the practice of social distancing, many have found their regularly exercise routines disrupted.
Gym closures, group fitness class cancellations and the closing of popular parks and trails have become commonplace, says Belleville physical therapist Cindy Rankin, making it more difficult for people to get their recommended weekly dose of exercise.
And yet, Rankin points out, we’re in a time when exercise and physical fitness could do a lot of good.
“Regular exercise is proven to help stabilize and even strengthen the immune system,” said Rankin, Regional Director of Professional Therapy Services, with 12 locations in Southern and Central Illinois. “It’s not going to prevent someone from contracting a virus like COVID-19 – social distancing is still the key to this – but a strong immune system can help your body fight such viruses.”
And, during a time of great life and economic uncertainty, exercise plays an important role in reducing daily stress while boosting one’s overall mood.
“If there’s one prescription I’d give most anyone during this crazy time, it would be to get regular exercise,” Rankin said. “Granted, with isolation such an important goal right now, your exercise is going to have to be a more individual, at-home effort. This can make it challenging for some.”
But, regular exercise is still possible. Rankin offers these five exercise ideas to consider during our current era of social distancing:
Try Virtual Classes / Apps
Not only are there a number of free and paid services and apps available that will take you through a variety of daily workout routines (i.e., cardio, yoga, stationary cycling, etc.), but a few higher-end services are offering extended free trial sessions during the current pandemic. Some gyms (i.e., Planet Fitness) are even sharing streaming daily workouts during their closures.
Become One with Nature
While some of the more popular parks and trails in your area may have been closed, plenty of our less-populated parks and wildlife areas are still open for hiking, running, cycling, etc. Enjoy the fresh air and natural sites, but still be sure to keep your distance from passersby.
Be Creative at Home
If you don’t have gym equipment at home, don’t fret. With a little imagination, items like soup cans can serve as weights, towels can be resistance bands, and a set of stairs can be your cardio machine. Even cooperative young children can offer added weight during resistance exercises.
Use Your Body Weight
Many great exercises don’t require equipment, save for your own body. Burpees, lunges, squats, push-ups and sit-ups (to name a few) can combine for quite an effective workout. Also, don’t forget cool-down stretching to exercise your flexibility.
Get Stuff Done
Finally, don’t overlook the exercise benefits that come with simply doing home projects. Set time aside to do some deep cleaning and organizing, or finally get to those home maintenance projects you’ve been putting off. Even yardwork and gardening can make for great workouts.
“Even though you’re at home, don’t take exercise too casually. Be sure to always warm up before following through on any of these ideas,” Rankin said. “And, if pain or injury is keeping you sedentary, contact our clinic and we’ll be happy to assess the issue and offer potential treatments and alternatives.”