The quarantine might keep us from frequenting our favorite gyms and fitness classes but now cold temperatures are tempting us to stay inside and hunker down. When it comes to our fitness – quarantines and bad weather are a recipe for a variety of health problems – some of them – pretty serious. So what are the risks of being a winter couch potato? And what are the four things we should be doing every day to make sure we stay fit and healthy? Dr. Colin Haines says we all need to “prioritize movement and figure out ways to gear up and get outside.”
FOUR RISKS OF BEING INACTIVE DURING QUARANTINE:
- Weight gain, which has been linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
- Sitting on the couch too long causes increased joint stiffness and loss of range of motion.
- Muscle atrophy from disuse happens more quickly than we think and leads to more stress being placed on our spine and joints, leading to pain.
- Mobility is what gets vital nutrients to many of our joints, ligaments, and soft tissue structures that lack a good blood supply in order to keep them healthy. So if we are not active and mobile we run the risk of losing these vital nutrients.
FOUR EASY TIPS AND TRICKS TO STAY ACTIVE AT HOME DURING WINTER QUARANTINE:
- Take Advantage of the Great Outdoors
As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear. With cold temperatures, getting outside is still possible – and most importantly still safe with the right equipment. A warm coat, layers, hat, and gloves – even wool socks – make going out for a run or a hike enjoyable. Ride a bike and get your heart pumping! Cardiovascular-type exercise is critical in burning calories, limbering up stiff joints, and improving your mental health.
- Rainy Day? Cardio Inside
What if it’s raining outside or you just want to be extra cautious and stay indoors to protect yourself from COVID-19? That’s ok – There is plenty of exercises you can do inside to get your heart rate up. Jumping jacks, running in place, burpees…all of these require no equipment and very little space to do. Time yourself and do as many as you can for a minute, rest for 15-30 seconds, and then do it again! You’ll be dripping in sweat in no time. Another great option is to jump rope. This is a simple piece of equipment that is very affordable that takes up very little space. Just make sure there is enough room overhead!
- Try Yoga
Yoga has long been used to promote flexibility and resilience in the spine as well as a way to improve joint mobility and control. There are many styles and practices of yoga, from muscle building stability work to gentler forms where you focus on breathing and reducing stress. Classes come in all shapes and sizes with plenty of free resources online to get you started. One of my favorite free options is www.doyogawithme.com. You can also search on social media platforms like YouTube for videos that will walk you through forms and practices.
- Get Creative With Household Items
In addition to getting the family involved it’s time to get creative with household items that can double as fitness equipment. You may have a few pieces of gym equipment at home such as dumbbells. Many weighted exercises that use big bulky machines at the gym can be done with a simple set of dumbbells. Don’t have these at home? Fill a suitcase or backpack with some books and use the handles to do curls, or hold it against your chest for goblet squats. Another solution is to buy a set of elastic resistance bands online. Most sets can be anchored over your door and come in a variety of resistances. This versatile set of equipment can give you the total gym experience in a small, easily storable bag.
This winter is surely unlike any other, but there are still plenty of ways to keep your activity levels high during the quarantine. Save these tips and let us know of any new options you come across in your at-home workouts!
Dr. Colin Haines is a board certified spine surgeon and the Director of Research at Virginia Spine Institute. Dr. Haines performed the world’s first combined endoscopic and robot-guided spine surgery. His patient success has earned him a national feature on The Today Show and WebMD, and Top Doctor recognition in consecutive years.. Learn more about Dr. Haines.