Make the Right Moves
It’s time to get everyone in your household up from the couch
By Elaine Marotta
Due to the many changes, closures and restrictions during Covid-19, you may find that you and your loved ones are spending much more time at home and are not as physically active as you were before the pandemic.
Or, possibly — like a lot of people — even before Covid-19, you didn’t skate, ski or play tennis, basketball or soccer, never considered exercise a priority given work, school and various other family commitments, or simply could not fit a workout regimen, cycling or even a brisk walk into your day.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four adults worldwide don’t meet the recommended levels of physical activity, and more than 80 percent of adolescents are not being physically active in sufficient amounts.
Sedentary individuals have a 20- to 30-percent increased risk of death when compared to people who are physically active. Up to five million deaths could be avoided if people increased their levels of physical activity.
For your and your family’s health and well-being, it’s worth making an effort to fit in the right moves now. And everyone in your household may even have fun in the process.
Consider the physical and mental benefits of being physically active.
An essential component of a healthy lifestyle, exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and may help to prevent and manage diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. Along with incorporating other healthy lifestyle habits, being physically active can help control cholesterol and may help reduce high blood pressure. Moving more may ease anxiety and depression, enhance learning, leave you with a healthier mental outlook and improve how you look and feel overall.
How Much Exercise Do You and Your Family Need?
The 2020 WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior recommends that children and adolescents ages 5 to 17 get at least 60 minutes daily of moderate-to-vigorous, mostly aerobic physical activity, along with three days a week of muscle- and bone-strengthening, vigorous-intensity aerobic activities.
Adults ages 18 to 64 should get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity — or a combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week, for substantial health benefits.
For even greater benefits, adults should also participate in muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups at moderate or greater intensity, on two or more days of the week.
The recommendation for those 65 and older is engaging in physical activity that focuses on balance and strength-training at least three days a week.
Healthy pregnant and postpartum women should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week — incorporating a variety of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
It’s important to note that the WHO guidelines, updated from 2010, also offer physical activity recommendations for people with chronic conditions and children and adults with disabilities.
All groups benefit from regular muscle-strengthening and aerobic exercises. Exceeding the recommendations referenced above if you are physically capable of doing so is even more advantageous. All of us should limit sedentary behavior, particularly time spent in front of the television and on the computer, phone and all social media.
What to Do to Stay Active
Physical activity requires you to expend energy. Staying active includes walking, running, cycling, swimming, gardening, doing housework and engaging in sports.
It’s important and encouraging to know that all physical activity is better than none, so always try to work exercise into your day: Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further from your destination to fit in some extra walking, whether running a necessary errand, stopping at the grocery store, or going to your workplace (if you’re not able to work remotely). Use a home treadmill or stationary bike if you have either option while you are watching television or listening to music.
If you have fun with your workouts, you will be more likely to stick with them. Choose physical activities that you and members of your immediate household will consider enjoyable, and exercise together whenever possible. Having workout partners may increase everyone’s commitment level.
Go for virtual at-home workouts and aerobics. Dance, practice yoga and try boxing. Take turns using any home exercise equipment, such as a stationary bike, a treadmill or free weights.
Remember that the goal is to improve your and your family’s health and well-being, so always consider safety. Remember to:
- Check with your healthcare provider before beginning any new routine, particularly if you have any chronic conditions.
- If you have not been working out with any regularity, start out slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your physical activity.
- Stay well-hydrated. Keep a bottle of water handy.
- Warm up and cool down for five to ten minutes before and after exercising.
- If you are exercising outdoors, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Covid-19 recommendations regarding mask wearing and social distancing (stay at least six feet from other people). Wash your hands before and after exercising. Carry hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol with you.
- Stay at home if you are sick, and avoid others who are sick.
- If it’s too hot, too cold or too humid outside, your home treadmill, stationary bike or a virtual workout may be a better option that day.
- Wear the appropriate clothing and shoes for your particular physical activity. If going outdoors, consider the weather as well as you are getting ready.
- Listen to your body. Don’t continue at the same workout pace if you are feeling fatigued. Stop immediately if you are too out of breath, are feeling dizzy or nauseous, or are experiencing palpitations or an irregular heartbeat. Contact your provider and follow any provider instructions. Call 911 in an emergency.