After about a month of being under quarantine because of the Covid-19 pandemic, many states have decided to enter Phase 1 of their reopening plans. While some retailers, parks, and restaurants are open in a limited capacity, the general recommendation is to stay at home and minimize exposure.
During this month, we’ve all been challenged to stay mentally and physically healthy. One aspect that’s essential to guard against is muscle atrophy. Muscle atrophy is when your muscles lose mass. Lack of physical activity is the most common cause, and it can have some serious long-term effects, even if you’ve only been inactive for a month. Losing muscle mass often results in a lack of mobility and joint pain. Muscle atrophy can feel like a sudden appearance, but it’s a gradual transition. A month or more of physical inactivity can dramatically reduce your muscle mass if you don’t take steps to guard against it. But there are a few ways to protect your muscles against atrophy.
Stretch Every Day
First off, the obvious way to avoid atrophy is to use your muscles. But when you’re stuck inside, it can be really hard to get the right type of exercise consistently. Luckily, there’s always stretching. Stretching is often a low-impact and easy way to engage your muscles. It’s a good idea to try to work different muscle groups in each session—legs, abdominal core, back, and arms. The more you do it, the easier it is, so try to get into the habit of stretching daily.
Usually, we associate indoor workouts as a necessity for bad weather, like rain or freezing temperatures in winter. Luckily, there are several indoor workouts you can do to get your heart pumping—and your muscles engaged. For example, you can always do a housework workout. There’s also doing calisthenics, making water bottle weights, and dancing.
Walk It Off
Now that parks are reopened (at least partially), it’s a great time to experience the great outdoors. Most parks have plenty of open space, so you can get a good walk (or hike) while still maintaining social distancing standards. And, of course, you can always walk around your neighborhood. Wherever you go, try to walk briskly at least 20 minutes to get the full benefit.
Climb Those Stairs
If going outdoors isn’t your thing, or you need to continue to self-isolate, you can always turn to your stairs as a decent piece of exercise equipment. To start, just walk up and down your stairs at a regular pace for at least 10-15 minutes. If you want to kick it up a notch, try bounding up the stairs two at a time, and going down one at a time as fast as you can. Just be sure to wear tennis shoes (i.e. don’t do this exercise barefoot), especially if your stairs are wooden and slippery. Want to add even more challenge? Do five burpees each time you go up and down.