Like the rest of us, I’m assuming you’re finding yourself spending a lot of time at home. I’m encouraged to hear that many people want to use this time to try to do a little bit of extra exercise. I’m sure that you’ve likely seen a lot of information pop up on the internet about exercising from home. I want to take it one step further and introduce you to considerations for staying healthy at home for women 50+. Keep in mind that exercise is one of the best ways that we can keep our immune system healthy, which means that we should be getting creative to maintain our physical activity programs.
There are so many ways that we can keep working on our fitness from the confines of our home and community. Where I live, the authorities are still recommending that people can get outside to run, walk or cycle (as long you are not in a group).
I have a feeling that as things unfold, as they have done in other countries ahead of us in this process, the recommendation to go outside may change. One of the issues in my very active city is that during the day, most outdoor spaces are filled with large numbers of people.
Given that home exercise will become a reality for most, here are some recommendations from both an Exercise Physiologist who designs home exercise programs, and as someone who spent the better part of a decade working from home:
1. Try to maintain a routine during this time. When I worked from home, one of the best ways to stay motivated and to cue my brain that it was “work time” was to get up at the same time every day, shower, and dress in the same way that I would go to an office. This same approach can apply to exercise; scheduling in an exercise session every day or on specific days is a way to make sure that you don’t fall out of the habit.
I would also suggest that you do your exercise in the same location, in proper footwear, at roughly the same time. The very best time to get your workout done is in the morning when you wake-up because we know those early morning exercise sessions are more likely actually to happen. A bonus to this approach is that by having a regular schedule, you are also more likely to maintain better sleep patterns.
2. Focus on having both an exercise program and a plan to break up excessive sitting time. I have talked a lot in the past about breaking up sitting time, but now it’s more important than ever. A sedentary (or seated) lifestyle has its health risks separate and apart from not getting regular physical activity, and health outcomes are worse even in those who do regular structured exercise but are seated for most of the rest of the day. We need to keep taking care of our heart health, even when we’re practicing social distancing.
Along with your scheduled exercise time, think about ways that you can break up your sitting time at home. I would recommend that if you are doing household chores, do them periodically in a way that encourages you to break up your sitting time. If you’re working from home, use a timer to prompt you to get up and stretch or just move around for about one minute every 30 minutes. You can also use a work cue, like standing up every time you check your email or social media.
3. Don’t forget the essential elements of a fitness program. Daily movement, aerobic exercise (like walking stairs), strength, flexibility and balance are all essential elements of your exercise time. All of the different aspects of a program can be done from home. For women over 50, this might be a great opportunity to establish a regular program for balance and strength activities.
4. Use what you have in your environment. If you have stairs in your home, try three sets of stairs, three times a day (but please make sure to use proper footwear). You can use heavier soup cans as hand weights or milk jugs filled with water. You can use the counter in your kitchen as a handrail to do strength and balance exercises (I’ll be posting a video of a series in our private Facebook group).
5. Try an online home-based exercise program. Just make sure that the provider is someone who trained and certified to offer this type of program. You can find comprehensive home-based balance, strength, flexibility, and daily movement programs in our membership site.
Exercise not only keeps our immune system strong, but it also helps us to manage our stress and overall mental health better and contributes to better sleep.
Let’s keep ourselves fit during this challenging time.
Your sister in health,
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