Although COVID-19 has caused temporary changes to our way of life, don't let it put a damper on doing healthy activities. Now more than ever is the time to keep an active, healthy lifestyle, while still following the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Regular physical activity boosts your immune system, prevents chronic conditions, and even helps to fight anxiety and fear.
Physical therapists encourage Americans to keep moving. They are movement experts who improve quality of life through hands-on care, patient education, and prescribed movement.
The strategies and tips in this article are provided by physical therapists. Following these tips can help you stay active and maintain your flexibility and strength, and do not require access to a gym.
Three Strategies for Keeping Your Body Healthy
For each strategy or exercise, choose the level of intensity or length of time that fits your current ability and fitness level. If you’re not sure, start with level 1. Contact your doctor or physical therapist if you don’t know what intensity is right for you.
1. Keep moving!
Moving your body and getting the recommended amount of physical activity for your age is critical to good health. Although social distancing limits our mobility, it is important to keep moving. Try to get 30 minutes of physical activity each day that increases your heart rate or challenges your breathing. And you don't have to do it all at once. Three 10-minute segments are just as good as one 30-minute session.
Walk, run, or ride a bike. Try an at-home yoga, cardio, or dance exercise video. Take extra trips up and down stairs if that's an option for you (taking breaks if needed).
Missing the activities you usually enjoy? Try going through the motions of your favorite ones like practicing your golf or tennis swing, or pretending to paddle or do swim strokes in the air for a few minutes at a time. Find what works for you and keep track of your progress. Bit by bit add more time, repetitions, or distance every two to three days to challenge yourself.
Then take advantage of these stretching and strengthening programs. They are designed by physical therapists to help you stay flexible and keep your muscle strength.
2. Maintain muscle strength.
Being inactive or too much sitting can cause our muscles to lose strength. It is vital to build or maintain muscle strength, now more than ever. Physical therapists designed a 30-minute strengthening program with easy, moderate, or advanced levels.
More movement means better health. There are many options for exercising at home. Videos on demand from your TV provider, streaming services, or mobile apps can bring instruction directly to you. Just make sure to choose one with the right level of difficulty for your fitness level.
Here are some safe, effective video programs led by physical therapists to help keep you and everyone in your family moving:
- Floor/Mat Exercise Video
- Fun Exercises for Kids Aged Six to 10
- More resources for Maintaining Physical Activity During COVID-19 and Social Distancing
3. Stretch daily.
This 30-minute stretching plan provided by physical therapists can be done at three different levels (easy, moderate, or advanced). Choose the one that's right for you based on your fitness, age, and desired challenge. In addition to being physically active each day and avoiding sitting for long periods, it’s essential to keep your body flexible by stretching daily. This stretching program should be done after getting at least five minutes of physical activity to warm up.
Tip: Try to fit stretching and strengthening into things that you enjoy. Do these exercises while watching a daily TV show or listening to music or a podcast.
Get Ready for Fun Times To Come
Following these tips will help you stay healthy. And they'll keep you ready to return to your favorite activities when circumstances permit. While we all work together to fight this pandemic and do our part to protect ourselves and our communities from COVID-19, let’s stay active. Even while we’re apart, we’re all in this together.