How To Approach Fitness in the Age of COVID

The COVID pandemic has created changes at virtually every level of our society. Everything from how we work, how we go to school, even how we grocery shop or visit with our friends, has required a shift in our old patterns of behavior.

Fitness is no different. Our approach toward diet and exercise, how we lose weight or build muscle, has all changed. In many states gyms are closed, cutting off access for millions of Americans who desperately want and need to make serious lifestyle changes. Our health as a priority is now front and center. We know that better health can lead to a stronger immune system, potentially shielding us from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 virus.

What types of changes do we need to make in order to excel in the new COVID reality? Dr. Soorya, an integrative medicine physician in Ann Arbor, MI, had the same question, so she set up an interview for us to discuss how to approach your fitness routine in the current environment. You can watch our interview below, and I’ve included my notes on the topics we discussed.

Interview Notes

Question: What are some ways to bring movement into your day while working from home?

One of the downsides of working from home is that we’re more sedentary than we might otherwise be when we have to walk around the office. It can be more difficult to stay active without making an effort to do so. Here are some tips to ensure you don’t become less active at home:

1) If you plan to do a full workout, set it in your schedule like any other appointment. This will make you more likely to follow through.

2) If you are just trying to stay more active during the day, set timers throughout the day that remind you to get up and move. In this scenario you can do some light stretching, go for a short walk, or just pace around your home for a few minutes to get the blood flowing. If you need some ideas, I’ve put together a short, five-minute movement routine that you can get here.

Queston: How can one cultivate the right mindset to workout from home? (Some people have just given up because they can’t go to their regular gyms.)

If you’re used to going to the gym for heavy strength training, then you can reframe this time as “maintaining what you have.” It takes a lot of work to build muscle, but fortunately it doesn’t take nearly as much to preserve what you already have. Even one or two modertely difficult workouts per week is enough to maintain the progress yu’ve earned thus far. Not to mention, this mindset shift can help alleviate the pressure of figuring out how to continue getting stronger without the right equipment at your disposal.

If you were following fat loss program, then you can still get great home workouts. There are tons of online resources for in-home workouts. Beach Body, Peloton, and similar brands all have on-demand fitness content that can keep you busy. If you want a more personalized approach, or also need help with nutrition, many coaches have shifted to providing their clients with remote coaching services. Click here to see why A-Team Fitness is Ann Arbor’s premier online fitness coaching program.

Alternatively, while the temperatures remain warm enough, it’s easy to head outside for hiking, running, or outdoor bodyweight workouts. This gives you the opportunity to get some time in the sun for that super-important vitamin D. It’s also a chance to get out of the house, one of the few options many of us have right now. As long as you maintain proper social distancing, going outside for a walk is a very low-risk activity.

If you can’t go outside and have no fitness equipment at home, then you can get creative and use household items to challenge your muscles. Water or laundry detergent jugs can be used in place of dumbbells. Wine bottles can be used for training more difficult exercises like shoulder raises and bicep curls. (Then you can celebrate afterward with a glass or two.) Towels can be used as sliders on the floor. A set of books and a sturdy backpack can be used as a sandbag and for various dumbbell or kettlebell exercises. You’re only limited by your creativity.

Question: Times are stressful, how can someone avoid binge-eating?

It’s easy to fall into stress/emotional eating right now. Here are some strategies to help you avoid mindless or emotional binge eating:

  • Set a meal schedule. Knowing when it’s an appropriate time to eat can help you catch yourself when you’re going outside the wire. 
  • Avoid filling the home with junk food. If it isn’t there, you can’t eat it. Simple as that.
  • Forgive yourself if you indulge a little. Most of the time a single decision to overdo the snacking isn’t what causes problems. It’s the downward spiral afterward that leads to day-after-day of overeating. Often this occurs because we shame ourselves for having made one bad decision. Instead, try to forgive yourself and work to get back on track the next day. 

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Learn more ways to improve your fitness during COVID here.