These last few weeks have been strange, to say the least. Our routines have been upended, and we’re adjusting to this “new normal.” We’re right there with you. With gyms and fitness studios closed for the time being, we’re in need of new ways to get our bodies moving, and get much-needed physical activity. Not only is this beneficial for our physical health (check out this article Dr. Bailony wrote on the effects of exercise and immunity), but it is immensely important for our mental health. Today, our very own exercise specialist Michael and our team of dietitians offer suggestions for how to commit to your activity goals during this time (and beyond).
With our homes becoming our new gyms for the foreseeable future, getting started or restarted with an exercise routine can be challenging. Here are my three major tips for return to activity during this shelter in place:
- Schedule your exercise and stick to it.
- Sometimes I find when our day is very busy, or in some cases, very open, we tell ourselves, “I’ll work out sometime later today”. And then it never happens. I can say I’m guilty of this far more often than I’d like to admit. Usually, when we make exercise an optional activity for the day or never set an exact time to do it, it never ends up happening. I’ve found staying consistent is much easier since adopting an exercise calendar.
- For me, I have my workouts scheduled on my calendar for the work week and give myself some flexibility during the weekends. This provides some accountability for staying consistent. It also gives you a sense of gratification to check off your schedule, showing just how many times you’ve been intentional about staying active.
- Whether it be before breakfast, after your cup of coffee, or anytime during the day, make sure to set out a dedicated time for exercise similar to any other task you have on your calendar.
2. Keep your workouts short – or try out an online fitness class.
- Generally speaking, working out at home compared to a gym or fitness studio doesn’t quite give off the right vibe for hour-long workouts. And that’s okay. Without a group instructor or gym aura it can be tough to commit to a long and vigorous workout from your home. That’s why I usually stick to short ones.
- Substantial evidence shows short but frequent exercise can be just as effective as longer durations of less frequent exercise. What does this mean? Well, if you do a 20-minute workout three times a week, or a 10-minute workout six times a week – we’re still working towards becoming fitter and healthier (and should see similar health outcomes).
- So, no need to commit to an hour-long home workout if it bores you. Switch to quick 10-20 minute workouts and just do them a little more frequently. That’s what I’ve done this last week!
- With that being said, if you do like longer workouts, go for it! There’s a ton of online instructor-led workouts the dietitians have linked further down in the article.
3. Stick to mostly moderate exercise (for now)
- Moderate exercise has been shown to have an immune-boosting effect in regards to viral infections (as explained by Dr. Bailony previously) whereas extreme high-intensity training has been shown to impair the immune system temporarily. So let’s stick more to moderate while in our shelter in place for COVID-19.
- What is moderate exercise? From a scientific perspective, it’s considered to be an exercise that burns three to six times as much energy as you would if you were just sitting quietly. A simpler definition is “exercise that causes a noticeable rise in heart rate”. This includes brisk walking, biking, dancing, and weight lifting.
- I gauge my effort on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being lying down on the couch binge-watching Netflix, 10 being an all-out sprint because I’m being chased by a lion. Generally, moderate intensity is between a 4-6 out of 10.
As an exercise physiologist, it’s my passion to find an exercise program that works best for you. If you’re finding this time especially challenging, or are in need of some guidance on increasing your fitness, please don’t hesitate to schedule an online call with me. I’d love to help get you started, or get back in the groove with consistent exercise.
From the dietitian team:
First and foremost, we recommend you book an appointment with Michael to come up with an exercise plan! For additional exercise resources, check out these fitness apps or websites currently offering deep discounts for use of their platform. The upswing in access to physical activity platforms has been inspiring to see, and is fostering a new sense of community, even in our digital world.
Nike Training Club: They have waived the fee for the time being, so the premium version of the app is free (take advantage while you can)! You can select length of workout, type, intensity, and even create your own “program.” Dietitian Rebecca says, “My favorite trainer is Kirsty Godso. Her style is uplifting and challenging. I love her HIIT and strength training combinations.”
Peloton: 90-day free trial of their digital app, and you don’t need to have their bike to make it work. They also have a host of running, yoga, and strength training classes, both with and without equipment.
Corepower Yoga: Follow the link to a variety of streamed yoga classes, totally gratis.
Orangetheory At Home: This popular studio is posting daily 30-minute routines showcasing some of their best coaches. What’s great is you don’t need any special equipment, you can find what you need in the comfort of your own home.
Sky Ting Yoga: This NYC-based yoga studio is offering a seven-day free trial of their streamed classes (Sky Ting TV), ranging from 10-minute gratitude meditations to hour-long flow classes. They are also doing daily live-streamed classes, so make sure to check out their schedule to keep up-to-date.
Melissa Wood Health: Seven-day free trial of extensive library of videos. She blends classic Pilates with yoga principles for a low-impact workout, focused on building strength. The videos range in length, but you will feel the burn after her 18-minute “Power Abs” class.
Aaptiv: 30-day free trial of their audio-based fitness routines, ranging from elliptical and treadmill routines, outdoor running, and yoga.
The Bar Method: 14-day free trial of online streaming. Dietitian Viveca says: “I, like a lot of my patients, struggled with the transition from a very consistent gym routine to home workouts. After a little trial-and-error, I’ve settled on a combination of running and walking for cardio; and Nike Training Club (NTC) and Bar Method workouts for strength. NTC is similar to the types of things I was previously doing on my own at the gym, and I’ve enjoyed getting back into barre workouts, which I used to do frequently.”
Obe: Seven-day free trial to daily live workouts and a library of 4,000+ on-demand classes.
Barre3: 15-day free trial. Don’t be fooled by the small movements in these Pilates-style classes, your muscles will be shaking! *in a good way
Pinterest: Dietitian Danielle uses this as her “secret weapon” for searching workout plans. From Danielle, “You can search anything from ‘upper body workout’ to ‘bike intervals.’ I use it to plan cardio machine workouts and strength training combinations, and then I create a program on the Interval Timer.”
Youtube: Another great resource Danielle uses to find workouts. From Danielle, “My favorite channel is called HASFit; it’s a husband and wife team that do many different workouts, from HIIT to body weights to strength training built for home. The husband does the harder version and the wife will show modifications.”
Tracking your steps and getting outdoors (maintaining the recommended six feet of separation): Set a daily step goal and use breaks in your day to get outdoors. Treat walking like a meditation; breathe deeply and bring your awareness to your surroundings. Being in nature will provide a sense of calm to your mind. This may also be a great time to listen to an inspirational podcast or favorite audiobook.
As always, we’re here for you. Ask your dietitian and/or make an appointment with Michael to discuss your current exercise routine. We’re in this together.