Fit Tips to Help You Keep Moving

During the past six months we have all been stuck at home during the worst pandemic the world had experienced in over 100 years. But, while we were sheltering in place to stay safe, most of us got little to no exercise. And even though the restrictions are being lifted, a lot of us are squeamish about going back to the gym or the yoga studio just yet.

But here’s the good news–you don’t have to leave the house to stay on track with an exercise program. All you have to do is keep moving! Here are a few  fit tips that you can easily do at home to help keep you fit, healthy, and back on track.

1). Get on the ball.

If you don’t have one yet, get a large exercise ball. If you do have one, start using it. Just sitting and bouncing on the ball is a great way to improve your posture, balance, stimulate circulation and strengthen your low back and abdominal muscles. Just a few minutes a day on the ball can make a huge improvement in your strength and flexibility.

2).  Why weight? 

A resistance program will shape and tone your muscles. Invest in a set of light weights to use while sitting on your ball to strengthen the muscles of your arms, chest, upper back, and shoulders. You can use your weights in sitting and/or standing, but sitting on the ball challenges your balance, posture, and strengthens your core muscles even more.

3). Clean up your act.

While doing household chores, slow down and really focus on the quality of your movements as you work. The simple act of cleaning the house then turns into an opportunity to improve your gait, balance, strength, flexibility, posture, body awareness and body mechanics. It’s almost like a moving meditation practice.

4). Shake it up.

Nothing kills your enthusiasm for exercise like boredom. Now is the time to try that dance, yoga, Pilates, or Tai Chi class you have been always meaning to try. Any of those will help balance your energy as well as your body. As an added benefit, you will learn movement patterns that you can easily practice at home to keep you fit and healthy.

5). The more the merrier.

Recruit a friend so you can encourage and support each other to stay focused on your goals to get fit and stay fit. It also helps to stick with a program if you have someone to be accountable to, and it makes working out a social experience as well as a physical one.

These are just a few suggestions. Just a few minutes of exercise each and every day can have a huge, positive impact on your strength, flexibility, overall health and fitness. Small, simple changes that you can implement at home can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Use your imagination to see if you can find a way to design a program for yourself that is fun, playful, and interesting. That is the key to success, not just during the dark days of winter, but all year long as well. The possibilities are endless!

 

Mask On….Mask Off

When the pandemic hit, we were told to wear masks anytime we were in public. Unfortunately, weren’t instructed in the proper use of them. It’s not as simple as “cover your face.”

As a respiratory therapist and physical therapist, I spent over 30 years wearing masks in a variety of clinical settings. I do not consider myself an expert, but there were certain precautions we were required to follow to help keep ourselves and our patients safe.

1). Once you have your mask in place, you never touch it again, for any reason. If do touch your face or your mask, you must remove your mask, dispose of it, and replace it with a new one. Under no circumstance would you ever reuse a mask.

2). Your mask must completely cover your mouth and nose. Any exposure of either one, no matter how briefly, can contaminate the mask as well as expose the very people you are trying to protect. Including yourself.

3). Again, you would never reuse a mask, but a lot of us are using cloth masks that are reusable, which is fine. But, only if you wash your mask after each and every use. No exceptions. I know, it’s a real pain, but not when you consider what the consequences are if you don’t.

Every time we exhale, our exhaled air contains bacteria and even (ack) viruses that are already in our body, which is necessary for normal body function. It’s called normal flora and helps keep our bodies in balance. When the balance is disrupted, the bacteria and viruses have the opportunity to grow, multiply, and spread.

Exhaling into a mask for an extended period of time increases the number of pathogens (fancy name for germs) into the mask. Then we inhale them, exhaling an even higher concentration of pathogens. And just think….we all spit a little every time we speak. I know, kind of gross, but that’s another normal bodily function. So, not only are you exhaling re-breathed air into your mask, you are spitting in it as well. Again, disrupting the balance of normal flora, which can cause serious sinus and upper respiratory infections, pulmonary complications, digestive issues and a compromised immune system. And make us susceptible to a host of other health issues.

It pains me that our medical “experts” haven’t shared this information with the general public. You see it’s not as simple as “cover your face.” It’s important to follow proper mask protocol, as well as good mask hygiene, regardless of the type of mask you choose to use. Be mindful of your mask, every time you put your mask on, and mask off. Your health depends on it.

 

Reality Check and Taking Action

We all need a reality check sometimes, and that can result in taking action. I got one of those reality checks last week when I went to the doctor. After having my temperature checked twice (just in case it spiked from my brief walk down the hallway), I was asked to step on the scale. Everyone’s favorite step.

I wasn’t worried. Even with all the talk about the “Covid-15,” which is another unexpected consequence of the pandemic and a reference to the significant weight gain many of us experienced, I felt pretty safe. After all, even though I was stuck at home for over 3 months I felt like I was still getting enough exercise and watching my diet. More or less.

Before I stepped on the scale I asked the nurse if I should take my shoes off. She replied, “It’s totally up to you.” I shrugged and stood on the scale and watched the numbers come up. Uh-oh. Maybe I should have taken my shoes off after all.

Oh, it wasn’t that bad, but that number made me realize that I wasn’t paying attention to myself as much as I thought I was. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so tired lately and feeling sluggish and out of sorts. Which is a nice way of saying I was cranky. But it was time to face the reality that if I didn’t take action now, I could have a much bigger problem later on. Been there before, and didn’t want to go there again.

The next day I wrote out an action plan. Nothing drastic, just a few small, simple changes that I could make to help get back on track. I set a few goals that wouldn’t overwhelm me and I felt were easily achievable with a little bit of focus. My plan was to add a few changes every week for the next 6 weeks and see what happens. Here’s what I came up with for the first week.

Week One:
1). Drink more water.
2). Eat more veggies.
3). Give up chocolate.

I told you I was keeping it simple. The point is, if we try to make too many changes all at once or set goals that are too difficult to achieve, we run the risk of going over the cliff. Our nervous system is wired to embrace small changes and make them lifelong patterns. It’s something to keep in mind, just in case you have to deal with the “Covid-15.” Or any other lifestyle change you’d like to make.

Let me know if you need any help or advice. After all, I’ve been there, done that. And taking action is so much better than burying your head in the sand. Besides, we can all use a reality check every so often.