How to Stay Active & Healthy While Physical Distancing

Mar31st 2020

How to Stay Active & Healthy While Physical Distancing

While this COVID-19 pandemic is presenting us with multiple challenges on many fronts: social, economic, physical, and psychological, to name a few, it also presents us with an opportunity to overcome the excuse many of use when trying to form new healthy habits: time

Many of us are now working from home or at least spending less time in the office, while also having to limit other social and physical interactions- and let’s face it- distractions. Instead of focusing on what we can’t do, we can instead use this time to focus on what we can do. There is much that we don’t have control of right now, but what we can control is our thoughts and actions. 

Despite gyms and most sport-related activities being closed or temporarily suspended, there are many ways to maintain (and even improve) our activity and health during this time. Just taking a quick scroll through Instagram and Facebook shows how creative many people are getting both inside their homes and outside in their yards or neighborhoods. Just as important as our physical health is our mental/emotional wellbeing. In reality, we can’t separate one from the other.  

As President Theodore Roosevelt said, “do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” 

Work Smart
For many people, working from home is the new (and hopefully only temporary) normal. Great- you don’t have to sit at an office desk or in meetings all day. You can set up a workstation on a counter top or boxes to create a standing desk. This way, you can move back and forth from sitting to standing throughout the day and will likely feel less stiff/achy in your back or neck compared to a regular workday. 

Spend Time Outside
For lunch, take a walk around your neighborhood. What a great way to get some movement/exercise into your day while soaking up sun and vitamin D and a little bit of nature (depending on where you live). Richmond has a great trail system along the James River (both the south and north banks) for walking or mountain biking. It’s a great way to connect with nature without having to leave the city. Other options include Pocahontas Park, Byrd Park and Maymont Park (as long as they are not overly crowded). What about those house or yard projects you’ve been putting off until you had more time? Great- now you do! 

Use Your Down Time
This is also an opportunity to spend some time reading books instead of just watching Netflix. Have you thought about meditation or journaling? Both of these practices have been shown to reduce stress and improve well-being. Now, you may have more time to spend creating these habits. There are many on-line resources and apps to help you with these practices. Some of our physical therapists may also be able to guide you! Feel free to reach out during this time even if you aren’t able to come in. 

Make Nutritious Choices
Unable to eat out? Great! Now, you have an opportunity to both improve your cooking skills and eat healthier! Try adding more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and nuts/seeds into your nutrition plan while eliminating highly processed foods and sugar. That means also staying away from fast food! Especially during a pandemic, staying healthy is of the utmost importance. 

Keep Up With Exercise
As far as exercise goes, there are very few excuses to not be keeping up with your home treatments! For people used to the gym or studio exercise programs, now is a great chance to explore and experiment with bodyweight options. Basic bodyweight exercises at home include push-ups variations, squat/lunge variations, jumping jacks, plank variations, burpees, crawls, etc. There are many great videos on YouTube and Instagram. As always, you have to adapt the exercise to your current level and ability, as well as readiness. 

To add external weight outside of body weight, you can also use cans or bottles and put them in shopping bags for carries, bicep curls, tricep presses, shoulder raises, and rows, just to name a few. Perhaps you can even use your partner, child, or a cooperative pet for even more challenge! 

Need some other ideas? Check out our YouTube channel:

Feeling Aches & Pains?
Is pain getting in your way of certain exercises or activities? We are still seeing patients in our office although we have made some temporary modifications in accordance with government recommendations on physical distancing guidelines. You can also contact us and we can set up a video telehealth appointment that may be covered by your health insurance!

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