Stay physically active while in self-quarantine
By Dr. Adrian Lorenzo, PT, DPT, CSCS//
As our community becomes affected by the COVID-19 and cases continue to grow in the New Jersey region, many healthy individuals are being requested to stay at home in self-quarantine. In many parts of our area, fitness centers and parks where individuals are normally physically active will remain temporarily closed. Staying at home for prolonged periods of time can pose a significant challenge for remaining physically active.
Sedentary behavior and low levels of physical activity can have negative effects on the health, well-being, and quality of life of individuals. Self-quarantine can also cause additional stress and challenge the mental health of citizens. Physical activity and relaxation techniques can be valuable tools to help you remain calm and continue to protect your health during this time.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both. These recommendations can still be achieved even at home, with no special equipment and limited space. The following are some tips on how to stay active and reduce sedentary behavior while at home in self-quarantine:
Take short active breaks during the day. A few shorts periods of physical activity during the week could be very beneficial for your state of mind and physical wellbeing. Below you will find a few exercises and physical activities as inspiration to be active every day. Dancing, playing with children, and performing domestic chores such as cleaning and gardening are other means to stay active at home.
Follow an online exercise class. Take advantage of the wealth of online exercise classes. Many of these are free and can be found on YouTube. If you have no experience performing these exercises, be cautious and aware of your own limitations.
Walk. Even in small spaces, walking around or walking on the spot, can help you remain active. If you have a call, stand or walk around your home while you speak, instead of sitting down. If you decide to go outside to walk or exercise, be sure to maintain at least a 1-meter distance from other people.
Stand up. Reduce your sedentary time by standing up whenever possible. Ideally, aim to interrupt sitting and reclining time every 30 minutes. Consider setting up a standing desk by using a high table or stacking a pile of books or other materials, to continue working while standing.
For optimal health, it is also important to remember to eat healthily and stay hydrated. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. Limit or avoid alcoholic beverages for adults and strictly avoid these in young people, and pregnant and breastfeeding women, or for other health reasons. Ensure plenty of fruits and vegetables, and limit the intake of salt, sugar, and fat. Prefer whole grains rather than refined foods.
Here are a few basic home-based exercises you could do on your own:
- Lie on your back, raise your left leg, clasp your hands around the back of your left thigh, pulling your knee close to your chest.
- Keeping your knee near your chest, slowly straighten your left knee until you feel a stretch on the back o your left thigh. Hold for 30-45 seconds, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
- Stand facing a bench (or high step or sturdy chair), both feet pointing forward. Place your left foot upon the bench, with your foot planted past your knee (angle of knee bend is more than 90 degrees).
- Slowly shift your weight forward toward the foot on the bench, until you feel stretch on the front of the right hip (you may also feel some stretch in your right calf). Hold for 30-45 seconds, repeat the stretch on the opposite side.
- Lie on your back, knees bent, feet close to buttocks and a little wider than hip-distance apart.
- Squeeze your gluteal muscles to slowly raise the pelvis up from the floor, keep your knees aligned over your ankles. Hold the top position 3-5 seconds, then slowly lower down to start position. 10-20 repetitions.
- Lie on your left side, then bent arm supporting your head, knees bent to 90 degrees knees and ankles stacked.
- Slowly raise the right knee from the left, keeping your ankles together (do not allow your pelvis to roll back or open), feel the effort in the right thigh/buttock. Slowly lower back to start position. 10-20 repetitions, repeat on the opposite side.
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