Staying active during the pandemic

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Getting exercise is important for our overall health. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week for adults. Children and teens between the ages of 6 and 17 should get even more daily exercise, according to the association.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, might be making it more difficult to stay active. People also may be spending more time indoors because of social distancing.

While getting exercise may be difficult, it’s still possible to do it – indoors or outside.

Please note: If you are experiencing symptoms like fever, cough, or shortness of breath, you should not exercise. Stay home, rest, and call your doctor to see what you should do about getting medical attention.

Read on for tips on how to stay active during COVID-19.

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Exercising Outdoors During COVID-19

Even if you are following social distancing, you can get outside to exercise. Walking, running, and bicycling all offer an aerobic exercise.

Going outside and doing it gives you the added benefit of getting vitamin D from sunlight.

If you do exercise outdoors, here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Maintain social distancing: It’s possible, if not likely, that you’ll see other people exercising outdoors. The World Health Organization (WHO) says to keep proper social distancing – 6 feet or more – to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands: Keeping hand hygiene can help prevent COVID-19 from spreading. The WHO recommends washing your hands before leaving your house, when you reach your destination, and when you return home. Use soap and water and scrub for 20 seconds before rinsing. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that’s at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Take it easy: Make sure you pick the right activity and intensity for your level of fitness. If you don’t exercise regularly, ease into it to avoid injury. If you do exercise frequently, don’t overdo it now.
  • Stay safe: Follow local health guidelines about whether you can exercise outdoors. And if you’re exercising in high-traffic areas, including roads, make sure you take personal safety into account.

Exercising Indoors During COVID-19

If the gym is still not an option for you right now, there are ways you can stay active in your own home.

  • Online workouts: You can stream workouts from a variety of online resources using a smartphone, tablet, computer, or smart television. Workouts can include cardio, strength, balance, and more.
  • Yoga: Doing yoga can stretch your muscles and help with balance, coordination, relaxation, mindfulness, and even heart health. You can find online classes that suit your skill level. Or, if you’ve already had yoga experience, you can try a few of your favorite poses.
  • Strength training: Combining strength training and cardio workouts is an important part of a regular exercise routine. If you own dumbbells, a medicine ball, free weights, or resistance bands, you can use them for various workouts. If you don’t have some of those weights, you can improvise with items around your home.
  • Body weight exercises: Activities like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, and planks require no equipment except for your own body. These exercises can be a key part of strength training.

Whether you exercise indoors or outdoors, it remains important to stay active. All ages can benefit. You can lose weight, improve muscle and bone strength, and prevent heart disease and other medical conditions. Older adults can build flexibility and balance to prevent falls in the future. Exercise can help children with healthy growth and reduce their risk of future health problems.

Creating a regular exercise routine also can be good for your mind. And a 30-minute workout might help give you something to think about outside of COVID-19.

American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids. American Heart Association. How to Get Active and Stay Connected During COVID-19 Pandemic. American Institute for Cancer Research. Be Active During COVID-19. World Health Organization.

About UPMC

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