Sunday, July 19, 2020

Exercise During Covid-19 by Elizabeth Alsobrooks

Writers already know how important exercise is, but with so many folks now working from home, those affected by sedentary existence has skyrocketed. On top of which, exercise is even more important during the Covid Pandemic. Why? Because it reduces stress, helps prevent unwanted weight gain, boosts the immune system (hello!), and improves sleep.

You would have to live in a cave (literally, not just Covid isolation from all but virtual reality) not to notice civil unrest or political tension right now. Many people are dealing with stress from anxiety, financial concerns, isolation, or depression. Stress reduction sounds lifesaving.

Some people fight to gain weight, but many are either happy with their current weight or would like to drop some. Spending more time at home means increased inactivity, watching television, and snacking, snacking, snacking. People are cooking at home and stress baking or making comfort food is an easy habit to form. Exercise lifts mood and helps burn calories.

Boosting the immune system is always a good idea, but right now it too can be a lifesaver. So cooking at home can also  be healthier, without so many added preservatives, sugars, and other unhealthy additives. 

Since stress interferes with sleep, reducing it through exercise will improve sleep that also boosts your immune system and overall wellbeing.

So exercise is definitely good for you during Covid. But wait. Many of us are dealing with gym closings, fitness classes canceled, running or walking groups canceled and even park closures. How do you exercise during shutdowns?

One way is to walk, hike or jog by yourself or with a family member if you live in a safe area. For some that’s just not a very smart option right now. If you have room and are lucky enough to still have a job, you can buy exercise equipment.

Some can't really afford the expense right now though. Luckily, we can still rely on the essential service of internet and/or cable and satellite communications, on computers, tv, or phones. You can find plenty of free or highly affordable fit from home exercise groups or videos to work out with. Extraordinarily little room is needed to do simple floor or standing exercises. Many use no equipment at all. 

You can also do some calorie burning chores. You know you want to clean out that closet or shed, the garage, the basement, or other calorie burning chore you finally have time for.

Even getting up and doing some stretches every hour or so will ramp up your metabolism, but for the optimum of fat-burning and stress reduction it’s best to do some quick-change sets for at least 15-20 minutes. No matter what your age or fitness level, there’s sure to be some online inspiration. For motivation, look for some fb or other like-minded groups. Just don’t push yourself more than you feel comfortable and stop if you feel any pain. If you have any serious injuries or disabilities, consult with your physician before adding any new activities to your routine.

Here are a few resources I've run across, including 3 unusual exercise machines I love and find them easy and helpful for someone with bad knees (like me of no more marathons!). They work great and make me actually have fun working out. I in no way 'endorse' or 'sponsor' them, but I do give them all 5 star reviews in my personal opinion. Everyone is different in their needs, tastes, and preferences. 

The first is a unique INCLINE full motion rower. I just love it. Time to work on those underarms! it takes up very little space and has wheels on the back for easy moving. The incline feature involves many more muscle groups. This works so well that you have to keep at it even on the first resistence setting in order to do 3 sets--which tells me it works! As you pull on the handles, the seat 'rises' beneath you. It literally uses your own body weight for resistence, and has 5 levels of resistence to add to that! Now don't think you won't be able to use this as a beginner. You use your legs too, and can certainly get it going. I can't lift myself even once on a total gym, but this machine lets my legs aid my arms so that I can use it without giving up. Fairly affordable. I got mine for under $200.

The next is a RECUMBENT elliptical. Finally! I HATE regular ellipticals and stationary bikes bore me to tears! Also, this machine has no full rotation of your feet that puts stess on knees or ankles like a recumbent BIKE, and the seat reclines so that you can focus glutes! This is a mid-range machine price-wise. I got mine for under $1000. They do have some cheaper versions, (even an earlier model of this machine, though I opted for the upgraded one), but I have not found one that lets the seat back recline in order to focus on glutes like this one does. There are also some that have swivel seats. These are often used in physical therapy clinics, so are perfect for healthy adults of any age as well as seniors or those with injuries or bad knees like me. Full body workout while you watch TV! What could be easier, right? This also has a small footprint, especially for an elliptical, and has wheels on the back for easy moving.

Finally, want to give some more focused attention to your core (abs!)? Who doesn't right?  I love this unique ab machine for ab work as well as leaning back and getting a great stretch through my entire back. I got mine for under $100. This machine can really isolate your abs.

So now you've seen my entire home gym. I should be in fantastic shape, right? Well, getting there. I just got this equipment together during Covid-19 after a lot of research, and I'm already seeing progress! But you certainly don't need to spend this much money to see and feel real benefits from exercise. The important thing is to get some exercise you actually enjoy on a regular basis.

Don't want to spend any money? No problem. Here's some free videos: 

Video Resources:
For Beginners: Low impact, no equipment

Beginner Cardio:        
Beginner low impact fat burning 30 minutes:         
50 free online exercise videos with all levels and types of exercise included seated exercise!


Maureen said...

Thanks for sharing. We're lucky to live near walking/bike trails so we try to get out as much as we can. I use old DVD's as well when I don't want to go out or want something quick.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Thanks, Maureen. I was surprised by how many literally free workout videos there are on youtube! I think that's one good result of the pandemic and the lockdown.

Nancy Gideon said...

We've got an old tread mill that makes too much noise to use while watching TV so your suggestions are really appealing. My elliptical, that I LOVE, got damaged in my move and tho it's still usable, is in a smelly garage so not much enticement there. I'm going to check out your suggestions to full in while my gym is closed. I've gotten rid of the 8 Covid pounds I put on but there's still a loooong road ahead and I want to keep my body as healthy as my two new knees!

Diane Burton said...

Good suggestions, Elizabeth. Getting up and moving every hour or so, helps when you're sitting and writing all day.