Staying healthy is more important than ever. Here’s how to bring exercise back to your life. – Bangor Daily News

Posted: May 15, 2020 at 9:42 am

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Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN

Katie Norwood, a trainer at Wilcox Wellness & Fitness in Bangor, instructs a virtual training session via Zoom on April 8, 2020. Norwood instructed the class from the empty gym, where only she and one other trainer, who was giving a private virtual training session, were present. After demonstrating an exercise, Norwood watches her clients for proper form and gives encouragement as they go through the workout.

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Maintaining your health is about more than just not contracting a deadly disease even during the pandemic. But as the stay-at-home orders have dragged on, many of us have let our daily physical activity slide, which compromises our physical health in other ways. Its time to change that.

Almost all chronic diseases are related to inactivity, said Jay Polsgrove, associate professor and coordinator of the Exercise Science Program at Husson University. When you do exercise [and] elevate things for a specified period of time for a short duration, thats when you get the health benefits.

But while that might have meant turning to the gym in the past, thats not possible right now in many cases. On May 11, some gyms and fitness centers in Maine could reopen for one-on-one personal training and outdoor fitness classes with fewer than 10 participants. But gyms in general wont reopen until June 1, during Phase Two of Maines reopening plan.

Polsgrove and James Graves, professor of exercise, health and sport sciences at University of Southern Maine, agreed that the best thing anyone can do when it comes to exercise is keep exercising regularly, even if you have fallen off of your usual fitness routine. After all, it is harder to get back on the fitness bandwagon the longer you wait between workouts.

Heres how to start incorporating exercise back into your life.

Seriously especially if you are working from home, the beginning to being healthier could be as simple as standing up and walking around the house or down the block every hour.

Try to find ways to be more active in your day, Polsgrove said. If you can build time into your day that you can get the body moving and blood circulating, that does have a big benefit.

Whether its running, rollerblading, jumping rope or doing yoga, find some sort of physical activity that makes you smile while you do it.

If you dont enjoy doing it youre not going to stick with it, Graves said.

Similarly, if the work out doesnt make you feel good because it is too intense, ease up and adjust to make sure you are still enjoying your daily workouts.

If you exercise at an intensity that is uncomfortable, youre less likely to do it again, Graves said. Make sure youre having fun, [though] its ok to push your limits a little bit.

Troy R. Bennett | BDN

A woman jogs down Free Street in Portland on Monday. The temperature touched 60 degrees in the city.

A variety of workouts will help you maintain good physical fitness. Graves referred to the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines for the recommended quantity and quality of physical activity in healthy adults, including 30 minutes of aerobic kinds of activity 5 days a week, some strength training to build and maintain muscles mass and exercises for flexibility.

We know that physical activity is important for everyone, Graves said. Youve got to mix it up. Do something for muscles and bones, and a little bit of flexibility and balance. Its important to participate in a well-rounded exercise program.

Polsgrove said he plays a game with his week of workouts, where he sets a rough outline of his workout goals for the week and lets the weather decide what the workout will be for the day. For example, if it is nice outside, he will jog; if it is cloudy, he will lift weights.

Think you dont have time to exercise? Graves said that inserting short bursts of exercise throughout the day is not only effective to maintain your physical health, but it can also help break up the long days in quarantine.

You dont have to do it all at once, Graves explained. We know that three bouts of exercise that last 10 minutes each is equally as beneficial as one bout of 30 minutes. You can break up your routine [with] things you enjoy doing.

If you dont know where to start, try your stairs.

Theres nothing wrong with walking some stairs, Graves said. Do that for 10 minutes, three times a day, and thats 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity. Im not going to walk up and down my stairs for an hour, but I can do that for 10 minutes.

Gabor Degre | BDN

Barbara Rowe, 89, of Brewer lifts weights over her head during the Bone Builders class exercise at the The Heritage apartments in Brewer Wednesday. Rowe has been participating in the class for 11 years and she credits the exercises to help her able to walk. The program is intended for area seniors to have a regular exercise routine.

Likewise, there are other ways to use what you have to stay fit even if you are in a small space or dont have stairs.

Just about anything that provides resistance or weight can be used in place in dumbbells or barbells, Graves said. You can fill milk [jugs] with water those weigh about 12 pounds each. There are a lot of instructional videos about that. There are [also] exercises that you can do using furniture in your house.

If your living quarters are especially cramped, try exercising outside (safely, of course Graves said to always bring a mask with you).

Science shows that rituals help with motivation. Polsgrove said that he has a ritual for setting up his in-home exercise environment, where he moves chairs out of the way, puts his mats down, sets weights up and puts on upbeat music.

It feels like youre transitioning to an exercise environment, he said. Make it a formal time of the day. If its informal, its easy to drift on to doing something else.

Setting a specific time and recording the activity you have done that day can also help set up the habit in your mind.

Sometimes people like journaling or keeping track of what they did, Polsgrove said.

Polsgrove and Graves both recognized that the lack of a social element is making working out extra challenging.

That social component is an important motivator, and thats especially challenging now because were being asked to avoid each other, Graves said. Given the requirement for social distancing its even harder now to get motivated to participate.

Finding a buddy to workout with you, even if it is virtually over video chat, will motivate you to stick to your plan to workout. Polsgrove said that he uses a similar tactic for his personal training clients.

When Im doing personal training with people I get them in a contract agreement [about] when are the days that you can exercise [and the] times of day, Polsgrove said. Create obligations that you and a friend are going to meet at a certain time.

Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN

Katie Norwood, a trainer at Wilcox Wellness & Fitness in Bangor, counts down the time of an exercise for her clients during a virtual training session in April 2020.

When it comes to workout videos, Graves said that there are seemingly limitless possibilities online. He said that some yoga, pilates and other fitness instructors have moved classes online for a small subscription fee, but there are also a number of free resources.

Figuring out how to make exercise work for a sheltering-in-place is not only a good way to stay healthy now and for potential future lockdowns, but also to incorporate fitness back into your daily life in general.

It gives us strength and resolve for the future, trying to become more organized and have a better understanding of what exercise means to us, Polsgrove said. Creating a home routine that you can have when you arent able to go to the gym is meaningful [to have] for the future.

Watch: Nirav Shah thanks everyday Mainers for staying inside

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Staying healthy is more important than ever. Here's how to bring exercise back to your life. - Bangor Daily News

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May 15th, 2020 at 9:42 am

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