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EXERCISING DURING COVID-19, By: Deborah German


Tom Fisher, kinesiology senior lecturer and exercise physiology expert, provides some suggestions for staying motivated and active during the pandemic.

Feeling sluggish? Working at home and physical distancing can turn even the most dedicated fitness fanatic into a couch potato. So in this week’s COVID-19 health tip, we turn to Tom Fisher - an expert in exercise physiology and motivation in the College of Health Professions and Sciences’ Division of Kinesiology - on ways to keep fit during the pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has tested our resolve in more ways than one. Hopefully you’ve been finding ways to maintain physical activity during these difficult times. Concerns around coronavirus are not going away, so it’s imperative that everyone finds new or alternative ways to maintain their daily physical activity. While it’s essential to your physical fitness, your mental health can benefit as well. Exercise has a major impact on reducing anxiety, stress and depression.

Because we’re all creatures of habit, a significant challenge involves letting go of our old familiar habits and trying to invent new ways of approaching our workout routines. Although there are restrictions on how we exercise, we do have some options. Here are some things that you can do to help reestablish a sense of safety, security and control while exercising:

Establish a Home “Gym”: Having a variety of equipment at your disposal is certainly desirable, but not absolutely necessary. Low-level intensity exercises, such as walking or yoga are excellent choices (and don’t require special equipment). Having a small space in your home dedicated to exercising helps to keep exercising top of mind, so it is not out of sight, out of mind.

Use What You Have: If gym equipment is hard to come by, don’t forget that bodyweight movements are very effective. Movements like jumping jacks, push-ups, squats and sit-ups are excellent ways to build muscle strength and burn calories.

Follow Safety Precautions in Gyms: If you decide to return to public gyms, be aware of the established protocols and follow them - for your safety and others.

Consider Taking a Class Online: Try something new by taking an online class, either through your gym or through the thousands of workout instructional videos on YouTube. You can find a variety of workouts at any length or intensity to match your schedule, goals and ability. The RWC at UCF also is offering many free classes virtually, and many don’t require a membership.

You may be taking advantage of the extra time at home as an opportunity to start a workout routine. You may also be adjusting because you are not able to participate in the activities you love. Regardless of any obstacles, finding new ways to move can optimize your health and wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.

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