COVID-19 may keep many indoors and away from others, but that is not an excuse to forego exercising.
“My hope is they aren’t just sitting on the couch and watching Netflix or Hulu all day,” said Dawn Mattern, MD, a board-certified healthcare provider in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine with Trinity Health.”I hope they get up and move because exercise is so important for so many reasons, especially now.”
Dr. Mattern reasons that with coronavirus, “which we don’t have a whole lot of ways to treat or prevent,” the best form of medicine is “to be really healthy going in,” she said. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with better immune function. Additionally, regular physical activity can help reduce feelings of stress or anxiety.
“Us North Dakotans, we wake up in March and want to get out and do things,” Dr. Mattern said. “And when we can’t do those things, we start to feel unhappy. Exercise is medicine for your mental health.”
If you find yourself sequestered in your home, either because you are practicing social distancing – and if you are, good for you! – or your gym is closed, there are ways to maintain an exercise routine.
“The big thing at home is you have your body,” Dr. Mattern said. “You can lift your body. You can do sit-ups or pull-ups. Getting up from a chair is the all-time greatest exercise. If you want to do chair squats, that’s a great exercise.”
Dr. Mattern added that finding something at home to use as a weight is beneficial, too. And if you have exercise equipment at home, that is even better. (It’s time to dig out the treadmill.)
“There are some incredible yoga workouts on YouTube. I absolutely live for them,” Dr. Mattern said. “You can find ones that are full body, lower body, back, or hands free.”
She added that with technology at our fingertips, we should be able to find many health-related activity demonstrations that we can watch and learn at home.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that adults get 150 minutes of exercise each week. As for children, it is recommended they get 60 minutes a day, Dr. Mattern said.
“The big thing about exercise is it doesn’t have to be a 30-minute block,” Dr. Mattern said. “If I work from home, I can work for 45 minutes, and I can take five minutes to exercise, and then get back to my work.” Not only does that help you get your minutes in, but it can also break the monotony of work. It also helps keep you active if you find yourself sitting at a desk in your office (home or work).
Dr. Mattern recommends these websites for more information on exercise at home and at social distance: