(March 27, 2020) With schools, gyms, fitness and recreation centers closed and no organized sports activities taking place in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), over the next few weeks, Ocean City Today will feature articles highlighting different ways to stay active.
This week, we checked in with the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department and a long-time physical education teacher for some tips and suggestions.
“It’s always important to take care of our body, both physically and mentally. During these trying times, it’s important to find some relief through recreation,” said Recreation Manager Travis Davey. “Physical activity releases endorphins and relieves stress. Remaining active and having a balanced diet can also help boost our immune system, which is vital in fighting off diseases and infections.”
Stephen Decatur High School physical education teacher, Misty Bunting, agreed, adding that the benefits of exercise reach beyond physical health.
“Exercise relieves stress and boosts our physical and mental energy,” she said. “It’s important to stay moving and active … If you don’t move it you lose it!”
For most healthy adults, experts recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, Davey said.
Bunting mirrored Davey’s statement and said this time can be broken down into five days, seven days, whatever works.
She added that guidelines will differ depending on fitness level, age, etc., but generally, children 6-17 years old should get 60 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.
“Being physically active daily will not only improve your physical and mental well-being but will enhance your mood and help you get a great night sleep,” Davey said.
In addition, everyone should work on muscular training at least two times per week, Bunting said.
“When exercising on your own versus with a team or group, the keys are to dedicate the time, stay motivated, and get creative,” Bunting said.
First, dedicate a block of time to exercise, she said.
“When at home it is so easy to get distracted and find other things that need to be done,” Bunting said. “Block a certain amount of time for exercise and protect that time.”
Next, she said staying motivated can be tough when exercising on your own, especially if you are used to working out with a group or team.
“If you have access to the internet, look for sites offering ‘free’ group classes or online exercise sessions,” Bunting said.
For those who don’t have access to the internet or who just want to workout on their own, Bunting said to get creative and develop a workout “that you enjoy, is appropriate for you, and keep a journal to hold yourself more accountable.”
HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts that incorporate bodyweight resistance exercises are great and require minimal space, as well as little to no equipment, she said.
“There are many resources online that have fitness classes, programs and activities that both adults and children can do at home to stay physically active,” said Recreation Superintendent Kate Gaddis. “There are fitness apps that can easily be downloaded as well as videos and ‘how to’s’ that are easy to follow along to.”
While the world is practicing “social distancing” right now, families who are healthy and live under the same roof can exercise together.
“Family time can also be fitness time. Crank up the tunes and have a dance party,” Davey said. “Create a makeshift obstacle course using chairs, tables, couch cushions and a mattress. Be creative, but think safety first.”
Exercising together is a great way to bond with family members and keep each other motivated, Bunting said.
“Go for a walk, play active games, or develop workouts together,” she said. “Create a station workout (inside or out) where family members rotate between stations [participating in, for example] jumping jacks, squats, modified push ups, walking/running in place, etc. Get creative!”
For families with older kids, turn a board game into a fitness challenge, Davey said.
“For example, if you are playing Trivial Pursuit, there is a fitness penalty for each wrong answer. Get creative and make up your own fitness rules,” he said.
This also works great with video gaming, he added.
“If your child is a ‘gamer,’ allow them to play only if they incorporate fitness,” he said. “A great example would be doing 10 jumping jacks every time they respawn or give up a touchdown.”
Don’t forget to get outside, he added. Take a family walk to get some fresh air and Vitamin D.
Bunting, who has been a physical education teacher for 19 years, said other activities besides “traditional exercising” could include gardening, dancing, cleaning, as well as walking, biking and jumping rope.
“There doesn’t necessarily need to be any kind of specific exercise plan. The most important thing is to move more than you sit and try to stay active with those at home in a fun, enjoyable, socially-responsible fashion,” Bunting said.
“Adults can also get exercise in some ‘spring cleaning’ and yard work, which burns calories,” Davey added. “Everyday house chores like laundry and doing the dishes can include some cardiovascular and muscular endurance benefits.”
For example, instead of bending at the waist to clear out the dishwasher, perform a squat, he said.
Kids can stay active too by helping with house work, cleaning their room or lending a hand with some light yard work, Davey said.
Before participating in any physical activity, Davey suggests people check with their health care professional to make sure they are healthy enough to exercise. Not everyone should be engaging in vigorous exercise, and it’s important to know your limits, he added.
Keep an eye out for articles featuring benefits of yoga, meditation, pilates, weight and resistance training and walking over the next few weeks.