Maintaining a regular fitness routine during the COVID-19 pandemic can be both challenging and frustrating for many people, especially when gyms are closed and snacks beckon from the work-at-home kitchen.
So, what’s the best way to exercise safely and effectively during a pandemic?
Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others
“The main concern for all of us is trying to maintain physical distance from others who may be exercising nearby,” says Dr. Jonathan Halperin, chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group.
“Individual sports such as running, walking, cycling and ocean swimming are recommended. Sports with limited contact, such as tennis or golf, are also reasonable. You should also only exercise with members of your own household. Team sports, such as basketball, volleyball and soccer, along with gym-based exercise with other people, is not recommended.”
Always bring a face covering with you
“There is probably no need to wear a mask while running or cycling,” says Dr. Halperin. “The only reason to wear one is to protect others who may be in close contact with you while you are exercising outdoors. It is advisable to put on a mask when you are going to be close to someone while riding a bike, walking or running.”
“Indoor cycling has become very popular,” he says. “There are also great web-based or YouTube-type programs that are excellent for strengthening and aerobic exercise. In addition, many gyms in the community offer web-based exercise classes that you can do at home.”
Dr. Halperin notes that the benefits of exercise are the same today as before the pandemic. For starters, he recommends getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 5 days a week, or 150 minutes a week.
There are many benefits of regular physical activity, including helping to prevent heart and lung disease, and helping to control diabetes and high blood pressure.
“Exercise also helps improve mood and decrease depression,” he adds. “And diet along with exercise is beneficial for weight loss.”
Clearly, the benefits of maintaining a regular exercise program far outweigh the risks.
“Exercise is medicine,” says Dr. Halperin. “During the pandemic, we just need to be more creative about how we exercise. We need to take advantage of community-based or internet-based opportunities to facilitate exercise.”
Ready, set, go!