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Tips for Staying Active

Tips for staying active 

Keep moving during social isolation

The coronavirus is disruptive to many areas of our daily life — including exercise and fitness routines. Many fitness centers and pools are closed to the public, and group classes or fitness groups are on hold while social distancing guidelines are in place. While it might be tempting to take time off, keeping active has both mental and physical health benefits including stress reduction, improved mood and better sleep. Exercise can help boost your immune system and manage symptoms of some chronic illnesses like diabetes. 

How much exercise should you get? 

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans advises older adults to strive for at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity activity each week. Older adults should include activities that improve balance and build strength as well as aerobic activity.     

The guidelines stress that some activity is better than none — good advice to remember as you try to adjust to a new routine. A good rule to remember is to sit less and move more. Here are some other tips to help you stay active while staying safe. 

  • Online classes. If you are used to a workout led by a teacher, check online. Many gyms and fitness centers are streaming online versions of their classes — or you may discover a new type of movement. If you’re trying something new, go slowly and listen to your body. 
  • Go for a walk — if it is safe to do so. Many people are wondering if it’s safe to exercise outdoors. Follow local guidelines. If leaving your residence is permitted, be sure to keep 6 feet from others and consider wearing a mask. Stay clear of crowded parks and paths and explore your neighborhood instead. 
  • Remind yourself to move. If you’re engrossed in reading, working a puzzle or watching a movie, it can be easy to forget time and spend hours sitting. Set an alarm to remind you to get up and move every 30 minutes or so. 

Here are a few easy exercises to get you started:

Strength-focused

  • Wall push-up. This is a standing push-up where you use the wall instead of the floor. With feet and hands shoulder-width apart, stand a little over arm's length away from the wall and put your palms on the wall at shoulder height. Then do a set of 10–15 push-ups, rest and repeat.
  • Overhead arm raise. Standing or sitting, lift two weights from shoulder height to above your head. If you don’t have weights, use soup cans or another easy to hold object. Palms should face forward and elbows should stay slightly bent when the weights are overhead. Lower weights and repeat 10–15 times, then rest and repeat.

Balance-focused

  • One-foot stand. Using a sturdy object such as a chair for balance, stand on one foot. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 10–15 times with each leg, twice. 
  • Balance walk. Walk in a straight line, one foot in front of the other, shoulder-width apart. Arms should be raised to your sides, shoulder height. Focus on a spot ahead of you to keep steady. As you move forward, lift your knee high for one second before stepping again. Repeat for 20 steps, switching legs.

Flexibility-focused

  • Back stretch. On a sturdy chair, sit with feet flat and shoulder width apart. Bend slowly forward, keeping your back and neck straight. Relax your neck and lower your chin. Slide your hands down toward your shins until you feel a stretch, and hold for 10–30 seconds. Straighten back up. Repeat three to five times.