Since the COVID-19 Shelter-in-place order was implemented on March 17th, it has become increasingly more challenging to stay active and mentally engaged. Especially now that we are significantly limiting our daily exposure to others as the COVID-19 Virus spreads across the state and the nation. Gyms and fitness facilities are closed to the general public and we are all struggling with keeping ourselves stimulated and entertained.
With each passing day, many of us are experiencing the effects of cabin fever, including restlessness, irritability, and anxiety.
The good news is there are still many ways to remain physically active and improve mental health while practicing social distancing and sheltering in place.
According to the Mayo Clinic, regular brisk walks help maintain a healthy weight, while preventing or managing various conditions. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes can all be improved by walking. Additionally, walking can strengthen your bones and muscles while improving your overall mood. The Mayo Clinic recommends you target a goal of at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Remember it’s OK to start slowly – especially if you have not been exercising regularly.
According to Men’s Health Magazine – September 16, 2019: “A widely cited study found that jumping rope is one of the most effective cardio exercises out there and it can whip you into shape with just a few minutes a day skipping. In the study, after six weeks of 10-minute jump-rope exercises, participants demonstrated the same levels of improvement to their cardiovascular health as individuals who jogged for 30 minutes a day. As it turns out, jumping up and down is a more efficient workout than pounding the pavement – achieving the same results in a fraction of the time”.
Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means your heart, blood vessels, and lungs all get a workout. Regular cycling improves: cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength, flexibility, joint mobility, posture coordination, and bone strength. It also decreases stress levels and body fat! This form of staying active works in any weather; you can cycle outside or even inside on a stationary bike and achieve many of the same effects.
Many of us learned how to do jumping jacks in elementary school during PE (Physical Education). The old fashion jumping jack remains to be one of the most effective and beneficial ways to exercise. Jumping Jacks are great for strengthening our bones and our heart. Jumping Jacks are also very helpful with weight and belly fat loss and with the reduction of high blood pressure.
Squats increase lower body and core strength, as well as flexibility in your lower back and hips. Because they engage some of the largest muscles in the body, squats pack a major punch in terms of calories burned. Be careful when doing this exercise, make sure your knees don’t pass beyond the tip of your toes.
Standing Overhead Dumbbell Presses
Compound exercises, which utilize multiple joints and muscles, are perfect for busy bees as they work several parts of your body at once. A standing overhead press isn’t only a great exercise for your shoulders, it also engages your upper back and core. Did you know you don’t need dumbbells to complete this exercise? You can replace the dumbbells with water bottles or canned goods, or use no additional weight and get many of the same benefits.
Although they get a bad rap as being too basic, sit-ups are an effective way to target your abdominal muscles. If you have lower back problems, stick with a crunch, which requires just your upper back and shoulders to lift off the ground.
However you do it, remember – staying active is the most important part. You are never too old to begin an exercise regimen. It is always prudent to consult your physician before beginning an exercise program and please do not attempt any physical activity if you are ill or injured.
Michael Perrilliat, Community Living Specialist
AEC Living -Waters Edge Lodge and Elders Inn