Written by Alyssa Orcuilo and Jacqueline Slobin
Exercising on a regular basis comes with many benefits in terms of physical and mental health. Exercise can boost your mood and strengthen your immune system. Consistent exercise also can help you maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, relieve stress, and decrease your risk of chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
With some gyms closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it can become especially difficult to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. In this article, we will provide some guidelines for exercising during the COVID-19 pandemic, resources for free workout classes, and ways to make your daily routine more active! We will also provide a guide to staying safe at the gym.
What Exercise Is Best for You?
As a general goal, healthy adults should aim to get 30 minutes of exercise a day. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends these exercise guidelines:
Aerobic activity: 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity is beneficial to your health. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Activity for even small amounts of time throughout the day is even beneficial. Aerobic exercise isn‚t just running but includes cycling, walking, swimming, dancing, and kickboxing too.
Strength training: It‚s recommended to train all muscle groups at least twice a week. A single set of each exercise is beneficial and using a weight or resistance level heavy enough to tire your muscles after about 12 to 15 repetitions.
If you have any underlying conditions or any health conditions in general, be sure to consult your doctor before attempting any exercise.
Free Online Exercise Programs
Exercise classes offered through online platforms are a great way to stay motivated, maintain a routine, and try new workouts! Here are a few options to check out:
Peloton Digital is offering a free 90 day trial for access to all of their online classes. Peloton offers classes for yoga, meditation, strength, running (both on a treadmill and outside), cycling, stretching, and more! Classes range in length from 5 to 60 minutes and are offered at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. Peloton will email you 3 days before your free trial expires so you have the option to cancel your subscription. The app costs $13/month after the free trial expires. Sign up here!
Corepower Yoga is offering free access to a selection of online classes. Classes for yoga and meditation range from 1 minute to 60 minutes in length. These classes can either be full-body workouts or target a specific muscle group. Unlimited access to all classes costs $19.99/month. Find classes here!
Planet Fitness is live streaming at-home workout videos every day at 7:00pm EST via Facebook Live. Tune into their classes every day for instructor-led workouts focused on cardio, abdominals, and full body training. If you can‚t make it at 7:00pm, you can watch the videos at a later time on their Facebook page. Once gyms reopen, you can get a Planet Fitness membership for around $15/month. Find their page here!
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Nike Training Club App provides free workout classes in yoga, bodyweight strength, and targeted training. Class sessions range in length from 15 to 60 minutes and are offered at different difficulty levels. Nike is currently offering premium access for free where they offer wellness and nutritional tips as well. Download the app for IOS or android here!
STRONG by Zumba has a Youtube channel offering cardio-intensive zumba classes. Most dance classes are about 30 minutes in length and strength building classes range from 7 to 20 minutes. Dancing can be a fun and enjoyable way to release stress and get a great workout in. Find their Youtube channel here!
Going to Gyms and Exercising Safely During COVID-19
With many gyms reopening throughout the country, it is important to know how to exercise safely and reduce your risk of infection. Here are a few steps you can take to keep yourself safe at the gym:
- First, make sure to call your gym in advance. Many gyms are now limiting capacity and requiring individuals to make appointments in advance.
- If an appointment is not necessary, you may want to go at off-peak hours to avoid crowds.
- Make sure that you are following your state's guidelines even when you are in the gym. This includes staying 6 ft away from other members and potentially wearing a mask.
- Call your gym in advance to see what kind of cleaning supplies will be available. It is highly recommended that you wipe down equipment before and after use. It is also advised that you avoid using equipment that may be more difficult to clean, such as a foam roller.
- Practice good hygiene by washing your hands before and after going to the gym. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth while at the gym.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, or generally don‚t feel well, it‚s best to stay at home and rest. Although exercise is enjoyable and has many benefits, your body needs rest to recover from infection. Additionally, if you are immunocompromised and at high risk for COVID-19, you may want to continue to exercise at home or outside. When exercising outside, it is important to stay 6 ft away from other individuals who may be walking or exercising.
Tips for Maintaining an Active Lifestyle
Are you really busy with work? Don‚t have time for a workout class? Here are some tips and tricks you can try to implement into your daily routine to maintain a more active lifestyle:
- Alternate between using a chair and a standing desk: working at a standing desk can help reduce back and neck pain, as well as speeding up the rate at which blood sugar levels return to normal after a meal. You can buy a standing desk online, or make your own by creating a stack of books to rest your computer on. Try standing while working for 30-60 minutes to see if you enjoy it and ease yourself into longer periods of standing.
- Work with breaks: according to studies done at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018, it is suggested that we work for 75-90 minutes and then take a 15 minute break. Use these 15 minutes to walk outside instead of sitting at your desk. You can also keep light weights by your desk and use them during your breaks.
- Walk during meetings: if you need to listen to an online meeting that doesn‚t require you to be in front of a computer, try and listen to the meeting while walking outside. If you need to see a computer, you can walk slowly on a treadmill or cycle on a stationary bike during your meeting.
- Build exercise into your daily schedule: try and create a work schedule that gives you some time each day to clear your head and exercise. By specifically designating a time to work out, you will be more likely to complete the task. Even consider creating a fitness challenge with your co-workers if you need some extra motivation!