Stay healthy in a pandemic: Find a way to move it

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Big gyms and boutique studios offer a large selection of classes you can join and in some cases, membership isn’t a requirement.

By Marcia Ra-Akbar
AFRO guest editor

The benefits of healthy living are more important than ever before. Physical activity reduces the risks of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and weight gain. These are all underlying conditions that heighten your risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Although exercise and mental wellness are essential, accomplishing this goal doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Whether you’re recovering from COVID-19 and looking to build back stronger or just ready to get off the couch, these simple tips and activities can provide you the results you need to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Chores

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Completing chores is a practical activity that can provide positive benefits to both your cardiovascular and muscular system. Vacuuming, wiping windows and countertops, spreading beds, sweeping floors, and carrying laundry baskets up and down stairs are all effective. Trainers often mimic these movement patterns as functional workouts to build muscle and burn calories. Gardening and landscaping can reduce stress, boost your mood and build up your immune system.

Dancing

Dancing increases your cardiovascular health, your immune system and makes you happy. Dancing helps with balance, agility and spatial awareness and is an effective way to tone muscles and lose weight. Zumba and Hip Hop classes tap into the powerful benefits of dancing. Listening to music releases dopamine, a chemical that makes us feel good. Scheduling regular zoom dance parties with family and friends is an excellent way to hold yourself accountable and increase social interaction.

Videos

On-demand videos are perhaps the best option to give you precisely what you are looking for. From walking, strength training, and yoga to high-intensity cardio and workouts that target specific muscles, you can get what you are looking for on YouTube for free or the on-demand section of your cable network.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes a week of physical activity.

Live streaming

Thanks to the shutdown, most gyms have upgraded their digital presence to allow people at home to join their classes from their living rooms. As a result, big gyms and boutique studios offer a large selection of classes you can join and in some cases membership isn’t a requirement. Live streaming classes allow you to interact with the instructors and feel a sense of camaraderie with others. Most trainers offer one on one, small group, or large exercise classes via zoom for a lower price than in-person. Your local gym can provide you details.

Getting outside

The benefits of being outdoors are endless. Walking around the block or your cul du sac is more than enough to fulfill your daily exercise quota. Outdoor activities are especially beneficial as they can improve your mood and emotional wellbeing. Riding your bike, enjoying small hikes, or brisk walking can significantly improve your health, requiring very little to no equipment. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 150 minutes a week of physical activity. Broken down, that’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Since physical activity can be anything that gets your body moving, there are plenty of things around the home to meet this requirement. The goal is to keep your exercise routine simple. It’s also okay to break up the 30 minutes into small bite-size pieces throughout the day. The real goal is to keep your exercises simple and be consistent.  

Using commercial breaks to get your fitness routine in is smart. Linking your physical activity to a show you watch daily is a great way to establish a daily habit. Walk in place during all commercial breaks or alternate commercials with strength and cardio movements.

Outdoor activities are especially beneficial as they can improve your mood and emotional wellbeing.

If you are recovering from COVID-19, you must start slow. Since there is still so much we do not know about the lasting effects of the coronavirus, a gradual start is critical. Individuals who experienced respiratory symptoms like pneumonia should rest a week or two before doing any cardio activities. Doctors recommend for people who had heart symptoms to rest two to three weeks after symptoms stop. 

It is always best to speak with your doctor as there is no one set of guidelines for those recovering from COVID-19.