For most people, spending the entire day at home has become the new norm, making it difficult for some to combat the urge to spend free time sleeping, binge-watching and lounging around between school and work assignments.
“This is a good chance to make being active a priority and establish a consistent routine to reduce sedentary behavior.” – Jeanette Garcia, UCF assistant professor
While you should be taking some time to relax during this stressful pandemic, it’s also important to focus on your health and well-being, which staying active can help maintain.
No matter your level of fitness experience, UCF health sciences Assistant Professor Jeanette Garcia, says being active at home can benefit you now and in the future when the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
“When we’re on the go so much I don’t think people realize how much time they spend sitting, especially when they’re doing it in multiple environments, such as work and home, in a day,” Garcia says “Now that we’re at home most of the day, this is a good chance to make being active a priority and establish a consistent routine to reduce sedentary behavior and get moving.”
Here she shares some reasons why it’s important to stay active while staying home.
- Maintain clarity: When you’re sitting for a long period of time you start to lose good posture and feel sluggish, making it difficult to focus on school assignments or work. So, take time to stretch, get your body moving or walk around a bit every hour. Many studies also show that being active helps with mental health and improves academic performance.
- Promote good mood: Staying in one place for long can make start to make you feel caged in, so changing your environment is important even as staying home and social distancing remain top priorities. Make it a point to go outside and get some fresh air every day. If you can, do so every 10 minutes once an hour.
- Protect your immune system: Being outside not only helps you feel refreshed, it also boosts vitamin D, which helps maintain normal immune-system function. You can also promote a healthy immune system by engaging in moderate aerobic activity, such as a brisk walk or dancing.
- Develop interests and gain confidence: Now is a great time for people to try new types of workout and find what they like, because ultimately the most beneficial exercise is the type you enjoy and will commit to. Being active at home gives novices the chance to become familiar with different exercises so they can gain experience and confidence in their athletic ability. This can be helpful for maintaining a workout regime or becoming comfortable exercising around others when social distancing is no longer needed.
“You should listen to your body to determine what kinds of exercise and how much to incorporate into your routine.” – Kyra Dickie’16, RWC assistant director of Fitness
While UCF’s Recreation and Wellness Center locations are closed until further notice, staff members are still providing services to help you stay active at home through its new RWC+ programming, which is available online and through social channels (@UCFRWC on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter). Starting April 15, you can also tune in every Wednesday on UCF’s IG account (@ucf.edu) at 9 a.m., noon and 5 p.m. for Workout Wednesdays live sessions.
These materials include original content, such livestream fitness classes on IG Live and daily online home workout videos, as well as links to external fitness resources.
“The RWC strives to provide an eclectic variety of ways we can get students moving in ways they want to be moving. With this transition into remote offerings through RWC+, that goal still stays the same,” says Kyra Dickie ’16, assistant director of Fitness for UCF’s Recreation and Wellness Center. Dickie, who studied sports and exercise science at UCF and has worked in the fitness industry for more than 7 years, shares some tips for staying active at home.
- Listen to your body: There are so many different ways to be active, from bike riding to weightlifting, and playing with your pet to walking, so you should listen to your body to determine what kinds of exercise and how much to incorporate into your routine. Challenge yourself, but if something doesn’t feel right or you’re experiencing pain, ease off the exercise. You may also want to consider how your sleeping and eating habits are affecting your ability to be active and adjust accordingly.
- Use a trusted source: At this time there are so many resources from gyms, workout studios and fitness influencers. But you should focus on the material higher education institutions are putting out because they’re probably the safest. At UCF, we require that every personal and group exercise trainer has up-to-date certification. Our material is designed to be attainable for most people too, and it’s free for everyone to use.
- Stretch and hydrate daily: One thing everyone should do every day is stretch. When you’re sitting, you’re just in one plane of motion, but when you stretch you activate different planes of motion, which helps lubricate your joints, create more flexibility in your muscles, and boost positive hormones and energy in your brain and body. Now is also a great time to make sure you’re drinking enough water, which is different for every person based on weight, health, level of activity and environment.
- No equipment? No problem: Everyone has objects in their homes that can double as workout equipment, such as textbooks for weights and a chair that can be used for tricep dips. But with or without equipment, you can still get a good workout by completing bodyweight exercises, such as yoga, which only requires some space.
- Staying motivated and tracking progress: Depending on what your goals are there are different apps for tracking exercise-related progress and maintaining motivation, but I recommend everyone focus on the feeling of being active. You can write down how you feel after each workout in a journal or text a friend to let them know you’ve had an awesome workout, which may motivate them and inspire you to keep going.