With gym's closed and no one telling us what to do we can easily get lulled into a sense of complacency and staying consistent with exercise can be a challenge. So how do we stay active and strong during these times. Let's first take a look at the current exercise and activity recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services and see how we can adhere to these recommendations while at home.
You can view and download those guidelines here.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per day. They define this activity as anything that gets your heart beating faster than it normally does. Walking, swimming and riding a bike all qualify.
The DHHS also recommends we do muscle-strengthening activities at least two times per week. Basically, strengthen each major muscle group at least twice a week. Pending your age, how long you've been exercising and if you have any underlying medical concerns, I would shoot for three. We'll explore how to look at muscle groups below.
Balance and flexibility are important components as well. However, we won't go into them in this post.
So how do we organize our daily activities to meet these recommendations? Here are some suggestions:
Aerobic - At least 150 minutes of light to moderate aerobic activity per week.
Select an activity you enjoy, or can at least tolerate, that doesn't require a whole lot of preparation or equipment and doesn't cause you physical pain (mental and emotional are ok 😁). If it's too much of an inconvenience you probably wont do it.
Here's how we can program our activity weekly to meet our recommendations.
20 minute walk, swim or bike ride 7 days a week
25 minute, 6 days a week
30 minutes, 5 days a week
40 minutes, 4 days a week
50 minutes, 3 days a week
It's OK if you're not there yet. Start where you are and make consistent, gradual progress. Maybe you add one minute to every walk each week till you reach your goal.
Also, if thirty minutes seems too much in one stretch you can split it into two. Maybe you perform two, 15 minute walks five days a week; walking once in the morning and once in the evening.
Muscle Strengthening - Strength Train every major muscle group at least 2 times a week.
Muscles can be grouped by the actions they produce and / or support. Simple put muscles either:
Push or press
Pull or lift
Sit, stand, walk and run
Stabilize and support the activities above
*Rotation is a component as well but to keep things simple we're going to group that into #4.
Here is a simple workout you can do at home with a shopping bag, some groceries, a chair and a counter or sturdy table.
Squats or Sit to Stand (in and out of a chair or a bench that is at a comfortable height): 8 - 15 repetitions
Push-ups (use a counter, bed or bench): 8 - 15 repetitions (leave 1-3 reps in reserve)
Loaded Bag Lift & Carry: load 2 reusable shopping bags with can goods or dense grocery item(s). Make sure the weight is manageable. Lift the bags and carry them a certain distance, e.g.: down the hallway. Put them down. Then repeat, pick them up and carry them back.
*Perform two to five circuits. Resting between exercises and circuits as needed or until your breathing normalizes.
Here is a video of this workout.
To find more workouts like these check out my YouTube Channel playlist Workouts.
If you find that you're having a hard time staying motivated you can always team up with a family member. Another option is to ask a friend to hold you accountable. Have them check in with you daily or biweekly.
If you're still just not quite sure what to do and you feel that you need a little more supervision and organization you may want to consider online personal training or small group training. Feel free to reach out for more information or schedule a free phone or Zoom video conferencing call to discuss and see if it's right for you.
Take good care during this time. Please leave a comment if this is helpful.
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