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3 ways to increase your well being

3 Ways to Increase Your Well-Being during the Pandemic

by Paige Gibbens, PT, DPTLeave a Comment

Physical activity is important now more than ever with trends in COVID-19 cases being related to chronic illness. Physical activity not only helps with preventing chronic disease, it also improves daily life and mental health. By staying active, you are able to maintain and improve your range of motion and strength to perform the activities that make up your day. Here are three recommendations to help increase your health and well-being while staying at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

1. Exercise

Exercise, especially at home, can be challenging for a variety of reasons. Throughout the pandemic, experts have found a 32% reduction in physical activity.3 Finding the motivation to workout at home is often difficult when you are juggling other tasks that may seem more important. You can find yourself lacking guidance, space and equipment. The American College of Sports Medicines recommends:

  • 150 minutes/week of cardiovascular activity
  • 2x/week of weightlifting/strength training

While it’s important to increase your physical activity, it’s equally important to make it fun and enjoyable. While we are unable to socialize like “normal,” find an accountability partner. You can call a friend while you walk, join an online exercise class, or perform a workout routine over zoom with a friend. With enjoyment and accountability, making daily exercise a habit can be simple. Here are some additional ideas for increasing physical activity levels at home:

  • Walking with family or dog
  • Weight-lifting using canned goods and jars
  • Join an online class
  • Sign up for a virtual fitness adventure, such as a 5K
  • Go for a bike ride
  • Perform yoga or stretch routines
  • Plant and manage a garden

When starting or increasing an exercise program, do so gradually. This would be similar to a stair method, increase the intensity of the exercise slightly, let the body adjust, then do it again. Remember to be patient with yourself. Increasing strength and endurance takes time, allow yourself that time to improve and grow. This will help build activity tolerance without the increased risk of injury. Your exercise intensity can be heightened with increasing repetitions, time, resistance or speed. As exercise time and intensity are increased, be aware you’re maintaining proper nutrition and water consumption.

Exercising with proper technique is immensely important in improving strength and preventing injury. Utilize a mirror to help ensure proper technique. A variety of resources are also available online for information regarding proper technique.

2. Posture

With the amount of days people are working from home, many people do not have a “proper” workplace set up to prevent musculoskeletal injuries. Ensuring your desk is set up appropriately is the first step to preventing these injuries. Multiple computer screens can be useful for efficiency but also can help to decrease the strain placed on your neck and eyes. Here are some helpful tips for your at-home “work” place set up.5

  • Monitor: Should be arms-length away with the monitor at or just below eye level
  • Chair height: Feet should rest flat on floor or footrest with thighs parallel to the floor
  • Mouse: Keep your wrists straight and right next to the keyboard
  • Arm rests: Support your forearms in neutral wrist position and shoulders at rest
  • Feet placement: Flat on floor or footrest

Being aware of your posture during long days of work is important. During long periods, listen to your body. It should never feel strenuous to sit and work at your computer, this includes making sure needed items are in close reach.5 Our bodies are unable to maintain perfect posture for more than 15 minutes. Attempt to get up every 30 – 40 minutes to prevent slouching and stiffness from sitting and reverting to poor sitting habits.5

By attempting to move frequently throughout the day, you are also increasing physical activity levels.2 If available, add in some stretching and walking throughout the day to break up the prolonged sitting. Utilizing different workstations, such as a standing and sitting desk can also be helpful. Not one position is the best position but being able to move between the two is what creates success with preventing injuries.5 I always say, your best posture is your next posture!

3. Water

Water is a critical component to staying healthy and active while at home. Water helps to flush waste products from our system, maintain normal body temperature, provides cushion for joints and protects tissues.6 A lack of water can lead to dehydration, which can have significant effects, including dizziness, decreased energy, cramping and fatigue.6

The answer as to how much is complicated. While the recommendation for daily water consumption is dependent on age, activity level, environment, pregnancy, and other factors; it is a crucial part of daily living.7 As recommended by The Mayo Clinic, males shoulder consume on average 125 ounces, while females shoulder consume on average 91 ounces of water each day. 20% of recommended water consumption can come from foods.6

As always when beginning a new exercise routine or continuing a current one, listen to your body. While muscle soreness is expected with new or increasing activity levels, pain is not. If you notice abnormal aches and pains with a new or current exercise program or need assistance with proper workplace ergonomic setup, seek the advice of a physical therapist sooner than later. Our experts provide free assessments in which they will assess your pain and provide recommendations for a treatment plan to get you back to the activities you love to do. Free assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our telehealth platform.

Request a Free Assessment

Physical therapy is usually the thing you are told to do after medication, x-rays or surgery. The best way to fix your pain is to start where you normally finish – with physical therapy at Athletico. Schedule a free assessment in-clinic or virtually through a secure online video chat where our team can assess your pain and provide recommended treatment options.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

References:
1. Eschner, K. (2020, June 12). COVID-19 has changed how people exercise, but that doesn’t mean gyms are going away. Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://fortune.com/2020/06/11/coronavirus-gyms-workouts-fitness-apps-reopening/
2. Staying physically active during self-quarantine. (2020). Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/technical-guidance/stay-physically-active-during-self-quarantine
3. Ducharme, J. (2020, May 12). COVID-19 is making americans even more sedentary. The effects could be long-lasting. Time.
4. ODPHP. (2020, April 7). Staying active while social distancing: Questions and answers. Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://health.gov/news/202004/staying-active-while-social-distancing-questions-and-answers
5. Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide. (2019, April 27). Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/office-ergonomics/art-20046169
6. Water: How much shoulder you drink every day? (2017, September 6). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/water/art-20044256
7. Get the facts: Drinking water and intake. (2016, August 09). Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html
8. Daily tips to help keep your family active. (2017, November 16). Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/getting-active/daily-tips-to-help-keep-your-family-active
9. Swns. (2020, July 16). Most americans believe gyms will become thing of the past after coronavirus. Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://nypost.com/2020/07/16/survey-says-the-at-home-workout-is-here-to-stay-even-if-covid-19-disappears/
10. Working from home when you don’t have a desk: 8 tips for better posture. (n.d.). Retrieved August 01, 2020, from https://www.hss.edu/feel-better-article_working-from-home-without-a-desk-and-better-posture.asp

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