By Lucas Rolwes, PharmD. Candidate 2021,
St. Louis College of Pharmacy
Being physically active can improve mood, reduce risk of chronic conditions, improve overall health, and help increase life expectancy.
In numerous areas, however, gyms and fitness centers are closed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are also being required to work from home or cannot leave their house due to health concerns. Even though you may not be able to get to your usual gym, it’s still important that you stay active to maintain overall health and well-being.
How Much Activity Do You Need?
It is recommended that most adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week with 2 days of muscle-strengthening activity per week. Children and adolescents (ages 6-17 years old) need 60 minutes of exercise every day, as well as 60 minutes of bone and muscle strengthening activities at least 3 days a week.
Different Types of Exercise
Incorporating a wide variety of exercises benefits the body in different ways.
- Aerobic exercise: activities that involves continuous motion for a prolonged period of time, increases heart rate and requires heavy breathing.
- Anaerobic Exercise: muscle strengthening activities that involve using large amounts of force to work muscles harder than normal.
- Bone-strengthening Exercises: help decrease fractures and increase bone health
- Examples: running, jumping rope, hiking, running, climbing stairs, pilates, and any exercise that involves jumping or rapid change in direction.
- Stretching: helps to improve flexibility, range of motion and balance
- Examples: This can be as easy as simple stretching routines or following a virtual yoga class. Vinyasa and Ashtanga yoga offer more vigorous exercise, while Hatha and Yin yoga focus more on stretching.
Getting Creative During Quarantine
Here are some ways you can stay active while social distancing:
- Take short breaks throughout the day to stay active. Stand up and move around every 30 minutes throughout the day. Many web browsers have downloadable plugins that can help remind you to take breaks, rest your eyes, or even drink water.
- Walk for brief periods around the house or in place. Even though you may not be covering much distance, even walking around the house or in place can be beneficial.
- Utilize virtual classes and workout programs. There are many options for free virtual workouts through Amazon, YouTube, and mobile applications.
- Exercise during commercials. Doing short workouts during commercial breaks is a good way to stay active in your down time.
- Use household items for weight training. Items like, canned foods, laundry detergent, or loaded buckets can supplement free weights. Using a home scale can help determine how heavy certain objects are.
- For the entire family: scavenger hunts, art shows, building forts, and playing outside with family members can provide activity to children and adolescents.
- For pets: it is still safe to walk dogs if they are kept on a leash at least 6 feet away from others. Avoid crowded parks and do not cover your pets face with a face mask as this could harm them.
Related Topics: - How to Watch Your Weight During a Quarantine - COVID-19 Family Health Activities
Activities to Avoid
To help stay safe during the current pandemic, there are several activities the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends avoiding.
- Group workouts: participating in group workouts that require participants to be in close proximity should be avoided. Instead create virtual workouts with friends.
- Team sports: group sports that require close personal contact should be avoided (Ex. Basketball, football, and soccer) Instead, practice personal skills in an open space.
- Lifting weights at the gym: free-weights and machines may not be properly cleaned between uses which could lead to possible transmission. Instead, utilize household items for weight training.
- Taking children to playgrounds: even though playgrounds may seem empty, they are used by many different people and are not regularly cleaned. Instead, create fun ways for children to be active at home.
It is always recommended to consult with your physician before beginning an exercise routine to ensure safety. To stay up to date on current social distancing guidelines check https://health.gov.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Human Health. (2020, April 7) Staying active while social distancing: questions and answers. Retrieved from https://health.gov/news/202004/staying-active-while-soial-distancing-questions-and-answers
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2020, April 10) Aerobic, muscle- and bone-strengthening: what counts for school-aged children and adolescents? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/what_counts.htm
- World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe. (2020) Stay physically active during self-quarantine. Retrieved from http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/technical-guidance/stay-physically-active-during-self-quarantine
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Health, Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. (2018, October) Exercise for your bone health. Retrieved from https://www.bones.nih.gov/sites/bones/files/pdfs/exercisebonehealth-508.pdf
- Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, September 25) The importance of stretching. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Division of Viral Disease. (2020, June 2) COVID-19 and animals. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html