Stay active while sheltering in place

  • Why you should stay active, even during the pandemic
  • Easy and enjoyable ways to stay active
  • The number of minutes you should exercise weekly

[3 MIN READ] 

Although gyms and other fitness facilities are slowly reopening, 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 while you shelter in place. (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.

  1. 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. 
  2. Stay heart healthy with aerobics. Keep your heart and lungs pumping oxygen to your muscles for better overall fitness and endurance.
  3. Stay strong. Muscle and bone strength training aren’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.
  4. Stay balanced. You have good balance when you’re able to 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 as you shelter in place

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:

  • Body weight 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 while you shelter in place. Search in our provider directory for a primary care doctor.

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Older adults who are physically active are healthier, feel better and aren’t as likely to develop many chronic diseases. This is especially important now. Learn how you can gently and easily @Providence. #seniorhealth

 Related resources

Try this stay-at-home workout: No equipment necessary

American Society of Nutrition

Natural remedies to help with stress and anxiety

Yoga for heart health

5 ways to combat the stiff joints of arthritis

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

From how to identify and treat heart diseases to exercise tips to maintain an active lifestyle, the Providence Senior's Health team is committed to providing real-world advice that is hyper-relevant to helping those 65+ find ways stay young at heart

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