Exercise Planning with Covid in Mind
Dr. Michael Kane
Exercise, for me and I am sure many of you, is an important element in the management of stress. Working out can be a healthier coping mechanism that can help balance us in these crazy times. As the cooler weather approaches the usual migration from exercising outside to inside might take some extra consideration, especially if those inside activities involve going to the gym or take place in group settings. Those close proximities and the sharing of gym equipment do increase your risk of exposure to viruses, both the influenza and covid.
To Gym or not to Gym
I have been asked by several my patients if they should risk going back to the gym.
For some of them who have compromised health, the risk of having a more serious infection certainly outweighs the benefits of getting exercise at the gym and for them I would recommend not. The decision should also consider people who live with you or people you encounter at work or socially. If they have any compromising health conditions you might consider finding an alternative to the gym.
While others with no risk factors who also would not put others in harms way, might take some time to evaluate the options of a gym workout. The physical and mental health benefits might outweigh the risk especially if you follow all the recommended guidelines. Also using the data on testing done in the state can give you an indication of the general population infection rate. Connecticut has been creeping up of late with infection rates above 1% (still considered low).
Website Covidactnow.org https://covidactnow.org/us/ct/?s=1078236
can give you current infection rates and has a notification feature if there is a surge.
Things to consider-
- How well is your gym enforcing CDC guidelines? (are you seeing people working out without masks?) CDC Gym Guidelines
- Are they providing good sanitation measures?
- Do they have workout restrictions for social distancing purposes? (smaller classes, limiting capacity)
- Do they provide adequate alcohol-based cleaning solutions for you to use before and after your using equipment?
- Are the other members respectful and using necessary precautions?
Here are some tips on how you can protect yourself and others as a gym member:
Wash your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds) using soap and warm water.
Use hand sanitizing gel if unable to use water and soap.
When coughing or sneezing, use your sleeve or a tissue to cover your mouth.
Dispose of the used tissue immediately afterward.
Do not touch your face (eyes, mouth, and nose) with unclean hands.
Try to keep a safe distance from other gym users.
Familiarize yourself with the latest CDC guidelines.
Refrain from visiting the gym if you display any of the COVID-19 symptoms.
Self-isolate if advised to do so (especially if you are a returning traveler).
Making the gym alternatives work for you.
If the gym is not an option for you. Creating a routine of outdoor or home exercise can be the way to go. The creation of any new routine can be challenging but it does not have to be.
There are many video home workouts that can be utilized to help give you ideas of how to create a workout program without equipment, just using your body weight. A quick search on YouTube will offer you many options. I have done some online yoga, some home High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) and some stretching routines.
Outdoor activity can be excellent in the fall and winter.
And if winter delivers some regular snow.
- Snow shoeing
- Cross country and down hill skiing
- Ice skating
Are you ready and motivated enough to make the change and stick with it?
If you answer no. Think about what has worked in the past for you in creating an exercise routine.
Changing our exercise program can present a barrier for us, until the new workout becomes a routine.
Sometimes we need extra support like:
Hiring a personal trainer (virtual or home)
Having a workout partner (even if it is via phone like a walk and talk partner)
Sharing your goals, having that accountability factor can be helpful.
Setting the time aside a dedicated workout time in your schedule.
Commitment to the plan
Exercise is so important, and it makes a huge difference in our health on multiple levels. Take the time to plan the exercise program that makes most sense for you. If you need some one to be accountable to let us know what your goals are so we can create a support plan to help keep you on track.