At a time when many of us are spending more time than ever in front of our computer as we work from home, staying active is becoming a challenge. Aaron Fellows looks at the importance of an active lifestyle and offers tips on how to achieve our fitness goals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the Q&A.
Fellows is the Project Coordinator and Kinesiology Clinic Supervisor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education.
There has been a lot of research in this area recently, and the results are quite comprehensive. According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity ranks fourth among the five leading causes of global mortality, along with high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood glucose and being overweight.
The other major health concern is that being physically inactive is one of the leading causes of lifestyle diseases. Lifestyle diseases are conditions that are mainly caused by leading a poor lifestyle such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. These four diseases all share physical inactivity as one of the major leading causes. That’s the bad news, the good news is we can change this risk factor by being more active.
In addition to reducing your chances of getting the above conditions, adding more physical activity to your daily schedule can provide you with many benefits, including:
The Canadian physical activity guidelines state for adults 18 and above that we should be aiming to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous intensity aerobic activity per week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. It is also suggested to incorporate muscle and bone strengthening activities (lifting weights or body weight exercise) at least two times per week.
So, if we break that down per day we could say at minimum trying to do 30 mins per day at least five days per week would get us to 150 minutes. This is also flexible (it could be 60 minutes one day, and 30 minutes the next). The key is getting to that number of 150 minutes by the end of the week.
This ties in with the above question. You could say that doing a one-hour exercise session allows better flow and allows you to get more benefits from your workout. However, for a lot of people doing one hour at a time may not be possible.
If you for do three 20-minute exercise sessions throughout the day, you can still experience the benefits of exercise.
This question I think ultimately comes down to your personal goals and objectives as well as what is realistic for your situation in terms of spare time throughout the day. Some people are not motivated to do one hour of exercise at a time so doing smaller bouts may seem more achievable. The answer is whichever method helps you the most in achieving the 150 minutes of accumulated exercise per week.
During this time of COVID-19 I think it is really important to work on all aspects of our health and fitness such as, cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and endurance and flexibility.
There are many options if you do not have any equipment at home. As mentioned above, using everyday pantry items or books can be an easy way to incorporate weight. If you can’t use these there are many body weight exercises (exercises we do where our body weight provides the resistance, such as pushups) can be performed to help us achieve our goals. There are many great resources online and YouTube videos with trainers doing sessions with no equipment.
Walking is great for physical and mental health. The great thing about walking is that everyone can do it. To get the benefits keep in mind that number of 150 minutes per week of accumulated time. I think the key is the speed of walking. If we aim to walk at a brisk speed at minimum (or at a speed where we feel our breathing rate increase, or our heart pump a little bit faster) then you are on the right track.
We should always be following the directives of the government and health officials. However, when out taking your walk there is no reason why you can’t find some space and do some simple exercises such as squats, lunges, a plank in the grass. Just make sure to wear a mask. Cycling is OK also, and a great way to keep moving.
I think most of us like a routine. One of the biggest challenges for people I work with is making exercise a part of their daily or weekly routine. Personally, I find that choosing a time each day or throughout the week helps block out time for me.
To help with motivation I find exercise videos that I can follow. There are many trainers and kinesiologists who can be hired for sessions to help with motivation. There are also still many exercise group classes that gyms are offering that can help with motivation.
Another option may be to work out with a friend where you are online at the same time. Even if you are not motivated one day, knowing that someone else is waiting for you to join them can provide good motivation.
Start slow and don’t try to do too much at once. Sometimes we get very motivated to exercise – which is great. But then going out for that first session and doing a two-hour workout may only make you very sore and increase your chances of injury. Your motivation may decrease if you can’t walk for three days after.
The key to exercise is consistency. You are better off doing three days of 30-45 minutes of exercise than one day of two-hours. Take the first one or two sessions to find how much is right for you, and slowly build up from there.
Experiencing soreness is normal, especially in the first few weeks. Our bodies take a few weeks to get used to physical activity, particularly when it has been a long time since we were last active. A good way to combat this is to ensure you give yourself one day of rest in between exercise sessions.
If you have any injuries or bad joints avoid high impact activities. High impact activities may include jumping, deep squatting past 90 degrees, and fast running. For those people low impact activities such as cycling and brisk walking may be better options. If an exercise hurts (gives you a pain that you think is not normal) stop the exercise and find something else.
One last note, don’t get down if you don’t achieve your goals in six weeks. Often changes in the body take time. I usually tell people that it takes at least 6-8 weeks before seeing some small changes. Keep in mind that after 6-8 weeks of training you will have built up a good amount of strength and endurance and so it’s at this point you may be able to start increasing the intensity of your sessions. So, weeks 8-12 are very important. Just be patient.
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Article courtesy of The McGill Reporter
Article courtesy of The McGill Reporter