Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy and boosting immunity but doing so during the quickly evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a challenge especially for seniors and high-risk groups. In response, the team at the Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being is using social media and exploring online tools to keep members engaged and active.
To assist your health and fitness goals, Centre staff are posting daily Home Workouts on our public Facebook page* which do not require exercise equipment for everyone to try.
Each Workout will have two options, so you can make modifications to meet your individual needs, including a seated option.
*Before beginning your home workouts, please review these important safety tips.
Tips and safety for home exercise
While exercising at home is a great way to stay healthy and relieve boredom, it’s also important to stay safe. Here are some tips to make sure that you are safe and motivated when exercising at home.
If you are new to exercise, you should always check with your doctor first before starting any physical activity program.
Wear appropriate footwear – running shoes are best.
Proper shoes can provide support and cushioning and help prevent injuries due to slips and trips.
Clothing should be comfortable and loose fitting to allow for proper range of motion. Also, changing into gym clothes prepares our mind and body for exercise.
Always be sure to start any exercise session with a proper warm-up and cool-down.
A warm-up can include walking around your house or marching in place – anything that starts gradually and gets you moving for about 5 minutes.
Just as important, you need to cool-down for at least 5 minutes. Again, take a walk around your house and keep moving to gradually bring your heart rate down.
For those with limited mobility, a wheel around the house, or some arm circles will help to get the heart rate up before exercise and will help with the cool-down afterwards.
Check your surroundings to ensure you have enough space to move without bumping into anything.
Remove any hazards such as area rugs or furniture.
If possible, try to designate an area or room at home for exercise.
You should also consider the temperature – as you start working out, your body temperature rises. Consider reducing the temperature in your house or opening some windows (so you can also get some fresh air).
If you have trouble regulating you body temperature (ie, those with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury), then you may want to take even further precaution. For example, have a fan beside you when you exercise and consider spraying your body with cool water while you exercise.
Water is the best drink for your body during exercise.
Drink water without sugars or caffeine, before, during and after exercise.
It’s also a good idea to have a little snack about 20-30 minutes before you workout – for example, a banana, yogurt, some nuts, or a little bit of cheese are all great options.
When you are working out, you want to work at a moderate-vigorous intensity. This means you should start to feel warmer and even sweat a little, your breathing should be a little faster and deeper, and your heart should beat faster.
You want to be able to speak a few words at a time – but not be able to sing a song!
For those with high level spinal cord injury (tetraplegia), your heart rate may not be a good indication of how hard you’re working. Pay more attention to your perceived level of effort.
Stop exercise immediately if you feel faint, lightheaded/dizzy or ill. Have a seat and drink some water.
If you continue to not feel well, seek medical attention.
If you experience any chest pain or discomfort or shortness of breath at any time, seek medical attention immediately.
For those with spinal cord injury, a pounding headache and severe sweating can be a sign of autonomic dysreflexia, and that your blood pressure is getting too high. Immediately stop exercising, make sure any irritating stimuli are removed (empty your bladder, loosen any tight clothing, etc) and monitor your symptoms. If they don’t resolve shortly, call 911.
Make sure when you exercise to keep breathing. Sometimes we have a tendency to hold our breath.
Consider getting outside for a walk, hike, bike ride or wheel around your neighbourhood.
Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather (think about dressing in layers).
When engaged in outdoor activity, be sure to comply with physical distancing and maintain a distance of one-two metres (three-six feet) from those around you.
Your goals can be as simple as completing 10-20 minutes of continuous exercise 3-5 days/week, depending on current fitness levels.
Schedule your exercise sessions into your calendar – you are more likely to stick with it and achieve your goals.
Keep your plan/calendar in a visible location or set an alarm to remind you.
Imagine this is an appointment you can’t forget to miss.
Tell someone that you are planning to exercise – they can help hold you accountable.
Use a speaker phone or video call (FaceTime or Skype for example) to exercise with others. There are also lots of great and safe exercise programs available online – try one out. Mix-up your activity so you don’t get bored.
Complete exercises you enjoy; for example, if you love nature take this time to explore the outdoors. Go on a sprouting flower tour to look for any blooming daffodils or count the number of robins you see on your walk.
Add your favourite music to any exercise you do – or listen to an audiobook or a podcast.