Dr. Bishop’s Tips for Staying Active While Socially Distancing

Meghan Bishop, MD April 16th, 2020

The health benefits of physical activity are well known. These include weight management, reduced anxiety, improved immune health, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and promotion of bone and muscle strength. During these stressful times of social distancing and stay at home orders, most gyms and workout facilities are closed making many people’s traditional forms of exercise not possible. Making the effort to stay physically active will not only help you to remain physically fit but also can help maintain mental health. 

Here are some basic tips for mind and body wellness during an uncertain time.

  1. Stick to a schedule. Undoubtedly most of us have less structure to our daily routines while working from home. Keep a regular schedule with your workout routines to better frame your day and ensure that you do not skip out on exercise. For example, I am used to running first thing in the morning prior to going to work, so I have continued to start my day with a run. Routine will allow you to feel more in control of your day and to retain a sense of normalcy to your schedule.  
  2. Join an at-home fitness program. There are many home fitness apps available that allow for all different types of workouts from home strength training, to yoga, to high intensity interval training. Many of these are free or offering discounts during the pandemic. The benefits of these home workout programs are the workouts can vary from being as short as 5 minutes to an hour or longer. This makes it easy to squeeze in multiple short workouts throughout the day. 
  3. Get outside. For cardio, running is one of the most efficient ways to get a workout in and can also provide an excuse to get out of the house for a bit. If you’re new to running, I would recommend starting slowly with a walk/jog program (ie: jog a minute/walk a minute). If you’re not a runner, walking can provide similar health benefits. I’ve noticed most of the running paths are much more crowded these days, so try to maintain appropriate social distancing measures of at least 6 feet apart. 
  4. Find a virtual workout buddy. Are you used to exercising with friends and lacking the motivation to do it on your own?  Find a friend to remotely participate in the workout program with you. Programs like Strava allow friends to share runs, walks, and bike workouts completed. You can also use social media apps to connect with other people working out. For runners, with all Spring races cancelled there are a number of virtual racing series that have come about. I’ve signed up for a virtual race series called Run Free Grand Prix (https://runfreegrandprix.com/) that ranges in distances from 1 mile to a half marathon to be completed over the next 6 weeks. It’s a great way to fuel your competitive spirit and to connect with runners throughout the world. 
  5. Work on your weaknesses. This is a good opportunity to take this time to work on many of the small details of fitness that you often neglect or do not have the time to address. For some, this may be daily stretching or foam rolling tight muscle groups. For others this may be incorporating core or strength training. Starting with these exercises now will make it easier to continue to include them as a part of your daily workout routine. If you have had a nagging injury that you have not addressed, many physicians (including those at Rothman Orthopaedics) as well as physical therapists are now conducting Virtual Visit evaluations. This is an easy way to safely be evaluated and get on the road to recovery for your injury. 
  6. Allow yourself the time to decompress. These are uncertain and stressful times. Exercise provides natural endorphins to relieve stress. If for no other reason than giving yourself a mental break, getting in daily exercise is important. 

Congratulations to Dr. Meghan Bishop, Sports Medicine Surgeon at Rothman Orthopaedics New York and recent competitor in the 2020 US Olympic Marathon Trials, who finished 50th out of 350 runners. To schedule an appointment with her, please visit RothmanNY.com or call 866-636-7840.

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