Shake It Up: Try Changing Your Routine to Stay Active

Shake It Up: Try Changing Your Routine to Stay Active

Shake It Up: Try Changing Your Routine to Stay Active

Flexibility isn’t just about how much you can bend and stretch when you exercise. It’s also a state of mind — and a key to staying active when times are uncertain. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many changes, but by being flexible, you can move beyond the things you can’t control.

Being open to trying new things can help you stay active. You can explore new ways to keep your brain engaged. And freshen up your workout routine to keep your body moving. That can help your health in many ways, from boosting your mood to helping you sleep.

Just Keep Moving

Regular physical activity is important for staying healthy for everyone, and it’s especially important now. Any regular, moderate-intensity physical activity provides health benefits like better immune function. It also can help reduce stress and anxiety.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans leaving site icon recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate level physical activity each week. You can break that up into smaller periods each day. If you’re just getting started, or restarted, you can work up to that goal. The important thing is to get started and do what you can now. Check with your doctor before starting a workout program.

If Your Gym Is Open

If you’re able to go to a fitness facility, follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leaving site icon to stay safe.

  • Be prepared. Before you go, check for online check-in or reservations and find out what protective measures are being taken.
  • Limit indoor group activities. Look for virtual or outdoor classes.
  • Use social distancing.
  • Disinfect shared equipment and don’t use equipment that can’t be cleaned properly.
  • Wear your mask when you can’t maintain at least 6 feet of distance between you and others.
If Your Gym Is Closed or You’re Not Comfortable Going

Try this:

  • Walk, run or bike outdoors as weather permits.
  • Use your home fitness equipment.
  • Walk briskly around your home and up and down stairs, if you have them.
  • Put on some music and dance.
  • Jump rope.
  • Exercise with a video or online class.

Find ways to make your muscles stronger by:

  • Doing squats or sitting then standing from a chair.
  • Trying pushups against a wall or countertop.
  • Using a strength workout app or training video.
  • Learning yoga or Pilates. Deep breathing and mindfulness can also reduce anxiety.
Walk This Way

Maybe you embraced walking at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but you’re getting bored.

Try this: Vary your routine. Mix it up with exercise-based walking. For more health benefits try:

  • Interval-training walk. Add brief bursts of speed during a brisk walk to boost cardio fitness. You can walk quickly for a minute. Then drop to a normal pace.
  • A strength-training walk. Take a resistance band or weights on your walk. You can work your shoulder, arm and chest muscles.
  • Sport walking. Use walking poles to add more challenge and work your upper-body.
  • Enjoy nature with a more challenging walk in a hilly area.
  • Meditative walking. You can focus on your breath and steps, which may help quiet your mind. For example, take four steps as you breath in, then four steps as you breathe out.
  • Mindful walk. Notice what's around you, from the birds to the wind.
  • Walk-enhancing apps. You can use free smartphone apps to learn while you walk. Or take part in an online walking challenge. Just remember to stay safe by only using one earbud, so that you are tuned in to the sounds around you, like traffic and people on bikes.
Mind Matters

While you’re working to get your body stronger, don’t forget to flex your mind. Being open to new things can help you cope with stress and interruptions to your routine better. If you’re missing out on some of the things you usually do, take the time to learn something new.

If you’ve always wanted to learn how to play the piano or speak another language, go for it. Keeping your mind active doesn’t take a lot of time. Buy a book of crossword puzzles or brain teasers. Host a virtual trivia contest. Set a goal to watch one documentary a week.

Or try “single-tasking.” That’s focusing on one thing at a time. Start by limiting distractions and carving out time for tasks that require deep thinking. It’s a step toward keeping your brain as fit as possible to maintain your overall health and wellbeing.

Sources: COVID-19 Updates and Resources, leaving site icon Staying Active During the Coronavirus Pandemic, leaving site icon  American College of Sports Medicine, 2020; Physical Activity, leaving site icon, 2020; Personal and Social Activities, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2020; Reinvent your walking regimen, leaving site icon Harvard Health, 2020; The One Thing You Should Stop Doing While WFH, leaving site icon Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas, 2020