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Spring into fitness (despite COVID-19 limitations)

Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., AT, ATC, TSAC-F
for Henry Ford Health System
Even if you’re taking care to stay away from public places and gatherings, spring is an ideal time to bring your fitness routine to new heights.

Spring is kicking into high gear. With the backdrop of warmer weather and blooming flowers, fitness enthusiasts are challenging themselves to take their routines to new levels. And with increasingly open schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be more opportunities for you to kick up your routine this spring.

Rethinking springtime fitness while social distancing

The coronavirus pandemic has brought every team sport to a halt. But athletes aren't the only people affected. Physical distancing has also closed gyms. Members find themselves cut off from participating in live classes and using their regular equipment.

Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., AT, ATC, TSAC-F

But that doesn't mean you should take a break from training. Even if you’re taking care to stay away from public places and gatherings, spring is an ideal time to bring your fitness routine to new heights. A few ideas:

  1. Go live. You may not be able to participate in your usual Zumba, barre and spin classes, but you can browse YouTube for recorded classes. Some gyms are offering live classes through platforms like Zoom.
  2. Try something new. There's no better time to adopt a new, healthy habit. If you have extra time on your hands, consider picking up a new activity. It only takes three weeks to establish a habit, so consider taking up something like yoga or meditation — even if only for a few minutes each day. If you can be consistent, chances are good you'll be able to maintain it when the world returns to a new normal.
  3. Get moving. If you're working at home, take advantage of the opportunity to incorporate more activity into your day. Instead of sitting at your desk, stand up or pace during conference calls. Schedule 5- to 10-minute breaks at the top of every hour. And consider going for a mid-afternoon stroll.
  4. Get creative with equipment. Who says adding weight means dumbbells? Chances are, you have a slew of items around your house that can serve as exercise equipment. Filled milk gallons and canned goods are good weights. Bring back your jump rope for cardio and dig out those old resistance bands. Break out your yoga mat for a no-skid surface.
  5. Download an app. If you've been on the fence about trying mobile fitness apps, now may be the ideal time to give them a test run. If you thrive on competition, many of these apps allow fitness enthusiasts to compete against each other.
  6. Turn to social media. There are a variety of fitness challenges happening on social media. Gyms are offering free online classes. And people across the globe are posting details about their workouts. There's even creative events like the "Quarantine Backyard Ultra," where people compete against one another to achieve a certain goal.

Season suspended? Commit to staying conditioned

This is a difficult time for everyone, but especially for young athletes who can't complete their spring season. But they don’t have to sit it out entirely. Whether you're the parent of a student athlete or a weekend warrior yourself, think about ways to keep those muscles engaged. What does your preferred sport demand and how can you mimic those activities in other forms of exercise?

You can also reach out to a sports trainer or physical therapist to get more specific ideas. The COVID-19 quarantine actually offers an opportunity for athletes to rest overused muscles while still maintaining a training schedule.

The reality is, there's no better time to focus on your physical weaknesses and transform them into strengths. Most importantly, don't let COVID-19 force you to take a step back from a healthy lifestyle. With today's technology, you can find motivation to achieve your fitness goals right at your fingertips.

To find a doctor or athletic trainer at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).

Want more advice from Henry Ford experts? Subscribe today to the Henry Ford LiveWell health and wellness blog to receive weekly emails of our latest tips.

Nick Parkinson, M.Ed., AT, ATC, TSAC-F, is the Supervisor of Athletic Training with Henry Ford Sports Medicine, and also leads Sports Performance training at the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine.  

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