Due to COVID-19, many fitness facilities throughout the county are closed. As the pandemic has progressed over this year, people have been transitioning to home gyms. This has caused a skyrocketing demand online and in stores for fitness equipment, and thus the market is naturally facing very high prices for limited supply. With the closure of these facilities, and the continuing importance of social distancing, we have found ourselves in a bit of a hard spot in how to remain active and healthy.
Here in the clinic we have already seen an increase in low back pain and other conditions due to patients being less active and more sedentary. Combine this with increased snacking and stress eating, and the “quarantine fifteen” is unfortunately very real
So what can we do to remain active while protecting ourselves and others from COVID-19?
Just going for a walk is a good start. Walking is a simple and effective means of exercise, and has a multitude of health benefits. A 30 minute walk at a brisk pace can burn up to 200 calories! The impact from walking also stimulates the cartilage in your joints, and can help to retain bone density.
When starting a walking routine be sure to start with just a few blocks at a time. Slowly increase the distance a little at a time depending on how your body responds.
Any kind of exercise equipment is currently in short demand. Big name brands such as Rogue Fitness have digital wait lines that are thousands of people long at a time, with limited restocks on hot items. Should you happen to come across any resistance bands or any such item, I would recommend picking them up while you can (if not marked up).
Weights for additional resistance can be made at home with some creativity. A couple of cans thrown into a thick book bag can be used for exercises like bicep curls or bent over rows. Carry that bag on your walks to build up grip strength. Hold a jug of water while doing squats. Use what you can find around the house.
Thankfully there are still plenty of ways to continue strengthening without any equipment. Here’s some example exercises below:
Wall Push Ups
We often use wall push ups in clinic for shoulder, arm, and chest strengthening. Wall pushups are a good starting point as the resistance of the push up motion can be adjusted by either increasing or decreasing your angle at the wall. When push ups on the wall become too easy, they can be progressed to push ups at a counter, as pictured below.
Squats are often considered the “meat and potatoes” of any leg strengthening program, and for good reason. They are excellent for not only strengthening hips, kness, and ankles, but for working on balance and weight distribution during a very functional motion. If you are feeling unsure about balance, perform these at first holding on to a counter or sturdy piece of furniture for support.
Be sure to only go as deep as feels comfortable with a squat, even a “mini” one is still effective.
This exercise is good for strengthening the shoulders, shoulder blades, and mid back. Functionally, strengthening these particular muscles will help with common overhead tasks such as putting dishes into a cabinet. Not much weight is needed to adequately work these muscles, patients will often perform this exercise with cans of soup or water bottles as part of their home program.
Focus on keeping shoulder blades down as you raise up your arms, this will prevent the upper trap muscles from taking over.
These are just a few examples of exercises we use in clinic. The internet is a great resource for finding new exercise ideas and programs. Health organizations, personal trainers, and fitness gurus have been putting out programs for free on platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Here is a good balance routine posted by AARP (their website has a great library of fitness videos). Find a program that you like, and try it out. Just be sure to pick a program that is realistic for
your current fitness level.
When exercising remember that “no pain no gain” is going to get you in a lot of pain. It is ok to feel a little pain during exercise, but a lot of pain means you are doing something that is doing more harm than good. Be kind to yourself!
With a little creativity and outside the box thinking you can create exercise programs to stay healthy even when everything is closed around you!