As COVID-19 spreads across the nation, we have had to adapt to a new normal. For many of us, that means working from home and helping children with virtual lessons and schoolwork. During this challenging time, it’s more important than ever to maintain our physical and mental well-being through regular movement and exercise.
General guidelines for physical activity include 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise three to five days a week and two days a week of strength training for all major muscle groups, said Diana Rini, a fitness center coordinator at Metrocize, the gym for MetroHealth employees.
While this amount of activity may seem like a tall order, especially when we’re cooped up at home, “moving for even a few minutes once an hour can minimize musculoskeletal problems and help your body to stay healthy,” explained Tim Walsh, a physical therapist at MetroHealth.
Walsh and Rini recommend trying four types of exercises you can easily do at home:
To promote joint health and flexibility, move different parts of the body through a full range of motion. Try 5 to 10 repetitions of the following:
- Lift your arms overhead and then back to your sides.
- Straighten and bend your legs while sitting on your couch or your desk.
- Get your neck moving by bringing your ear toward you shoulder on one side then the other, or turn your head side to side looking over your shoulder.
Building muscles strengthens bones and helps manage your weight.
- Use cuff weights on your legs or dumbbells for your arms; even a minute of repetitions will help build strength.
- Use a desk or wall to push against with your hand or foot while flexing your muscles for 5 to 10 seconds for 10 to 15 repetitions.
- Pull your lower abdominals in (from the belly button and below) and hold for 5 to 10 seconds for 10 to 15 repetitions.
- Try 10 to 15 repetitions of lunges or squats, which efficiently exercise more than one muscle group at a time.
To increase your range of motion and decrease stiffness, lengthen different muscle groups and hold for 15 to 30 seconds at a time.
- Straighten your legs at your desk to stretch your hamstrings.
- Reach toward the ceiling to keep your upper arms and shoulders limber.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together to counteract rounding your upper back.
- In standing perform back bends with your hands on your hips while keeping your knees straight.
Briefly get your heart rate up with brisk and repeated movements.
- Move your arms up and down for 30 to 45 seconds.
- March in place.
- Take a brisk walk around the block.
If you’re struggling to find motivation to move on your own, you can easily find virtual fitness instructors through free online yoga or fitness videos.
Meditation to Boost Mindfulness
Though most of us are staying home during this trying time, we are still tied to technology through our phones, tablets and computers. While this can be a positive way to keep in touch with loved ones, it is equally important to find time for quiet and stillness. “Meditation helps you disconnect from the outside world and connect with yourself,” said Rini.
She suggests finding a quiet room in your home and meditating for 20–30 minutes. Benefits include decreased blood pressure, increased energy and reduced stress. Meditation may also help decrease inflammation and boost the immune system.
Diana Rini’s Meditation Tips
Sit tall in a chair with both feet on the ground. Relax your shoulders, arms and legs. Rest your hands on your lap or at your sides. Lower your eyelids or close your eyes completely.
Breathe. To focus on your breath, start by breathing in through your nose to a count of one, two, three. Feel your breath travel from your nose all the way to your belly, feeling the rise in your belly as you breathe in. Pause for a moment and then slowly breathe out through your nose or mouth to a count of one … two … three … four. Feel the fall of your belly as the breath leaves and travels out through your nose or mouth. Continue this for several times, just noticing the feel of your breath. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
Distractions. Is your mind wandering? Noticing sounds or other distractions? That’s completely natural. Observe the thoughts or sounds that arise, and don’t fight them. Gently return your focus to breathing in and out.
Practice. Try this when you are feeling stressed or need time to feel centered. The more you practice, the more you may notice how much easier it is to calm your mind and make you feel present.
The health and wellness of our patients and our community is our primary concern at MetroHealth. Although we are trying to limit the number of in-person office visits to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), we also want to avoid any lapse in your medical care. With new telehealth solutions, we can address many of your and your family’s health care needs with a telephone or video visit. To schedule a telehealth visit with your provider, schedule online through MyChart or call your doctor’s office. For more information on telehealth, visit metrohealth.org/telehealth.
Fitness Center Coordinator
Tim Walsh, PT