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In this article:
Why you should stay active, especially during the pandemic
How many minutes you should exercise for each week and four key categories of exercises to incorporate into your routine.
Providence physicians say staying active at home during the pandemic can make a difference in boosting your health and immunity.
Although gyms and other fitness facilities are largely reopened, you may not be ready to work out at one of them, especially if you have an underlying health condition, are immune-compromised, or are in a higher risk age group. Still, it's important to stay active, even at home. (And if you haven’t been active, well, there’s no time like the present!)
Why it’s important to stay active
The reasons to stay active are powerful. According to the American Society of Nutrition, there’s one reason that outshines them all: people who are physically active usually live longer than those who aren’t active. In fact, being inactive has almost the same impact on a person’s health as smoking, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Other reasons to stay active during the pandemic include:
- Relieve stress and anxiety
- Support your immune system
- Manage your weight
- Help prevent disease
- Improve bone and muscle strength
- Increase flexibility and balance
Focus on the four: Key areas of physical activity
As part of your weekly activities, there are four key areas to focus on. Of course, check with your doctor first, especially if you have chronic (long-term) conditions that may keep you from safely enjoying regular physical activities.
- Stay flexible. When you’re able to move fully through active ranges of motion, you’re flexible. Active range of motion is when you’re able to make simple movements on your own to maintain flexibility. Try stretching exercises to increase your flexibility.
- Stay heart-healthy with aerobics. Keep your heart and lungs pumping oxygen to your muscles for better overall fitness and endurance.
- Stay strong. Muscle and bone strength training isn’t going to make you look like Popeye (unless you want to), but they can help with heart health, blood sugar control, lower risk of injury, and better mental health, among other benefits.
- Stay balanced. You have good balance when you’re able to control your body’s coordination. This is especially helpful for preventing falls and helping you become more stable overall.
Here’s what you can do to stay active at home
To build flexibility try:
- Yoga and stretching. Exercises like yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are great ways to stretch, get flexible, and go easy on your joints. Check out instructional videos online or on select TV channels. Many fitness facilities are now offering virtual classes at senior centers.
For aerobic benefits try:
- Walking. A stroll around the neighborhood is a gentle but effective aerobic exercise. When the weather’s nice, walking outdoors can be enough exercise to boost your mood and immune system. If you must stay indoors, march around the house to raise your daily step counts.
- Dancing. Moving to music is another fun way to benefit your heart. It’s fun, low-impact, and great for your mood.
To boost strength try:
- Bodyweight strength-training. You don’t need barbells to build bone and muscle strength. Your own body weight and some simple exercises can do the job — and you don’t have to strain your joints in the process. You can also try using everyday items you have around the house, like soup cans or bottles of water.
For better balance try:
- The exercises in this video. Providence physical therapist, Jamie Caulley, shares simple exercises to help with balance.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that older adults follow the key guideline range of 150 to 300 minutes of physical activity each week. They also suggest doing muscle-strengthening exercises at least two days a week.
Now’s the time to think about moving more — right where you are
Perhaps now more than ever, being active is important for health, even if you’re sheltering in place. It can help lower the risks for chronic disease and compromised immune health, which put older adults even more at risk for COVID-19 and other viruses. By taking a few simple steps — literally and figuratively — you can stay healthy or get healthier. During this pandemic, that can make a world of difference for you and your loved ones.
Find a doctor
Providence doctors can help you decide on the best physical activity is for you. Search in our provider directory for a primary care doctor.
Through Providence Express Care Virtual, you can also access a full range of healthcare services.
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This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
About the AuthorMore Content by Providence Seniors Health Team