October 2020 Needing a 'New Normal' For Staying Active?
By Elle Schuldt
Between cold weather creeping in and COVID-19, many of us are finding it challenging to stay active and are needing to rethink our workouts. As we are all trying to adjust to a “new normal”, it is extremely important to fit exercise into our daily routines to promote physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
Physical Benefits of Exercise
Heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes are some of the most common chronic diseases that Americans are facing. Here are some of the ways that exercise can prevent or alleviate the common problems associated with these health conditions:
Exercise decreases blood pressure. Regular exercise helps the heart pump blood more efficiently with less effort. A stronger and more efficient heart decreases the force on the arteries, which in turn lowers blood pressure.
Exercise improves insulin sensitivity. With regular exercise, the cells in the body are more insulin sensitive, which means they can use glucose more effectively thus helping to keep it in a healthy range.
Exercise lowers problematic cholesterol. Cholesterol is carried through the body in either high-density lipoproteins (“good cholesterol”) or low-density lipoproteins (“bad cholesterol”). Regular exercise increases “good cholesterol” and decreases “bad cholesterol” in the body.
Exercise improves sleep quality and duration by decreasing arousal and anxiety-related symptoms.
Exercise promotes weight management by using energy (calories) as fuel. Exercise can also promote increased muscle mass which ramps up metabolism.
Exercise stimulates bone growth and improves bone function, strength, and density. Exercise can prevent major bone-related health issues such as osteoporosis, osteopenia, and bone fractures.
Exercise strengthens and enlarges muscles in a process called cell hypertrophy (enlargement of muscle cells). Regular exercise results in enlarged muscle cells that can exhibit greater strength. If a muscle is repeatedly used/trained, it can recruit more muscle cells to be used further strengthening the muscle.
Effects of Exercise on Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
Exercise reduces levels of stress hormones. Cortisol and adrenaline are hormones that are released when the body is under stress, whether it be negative or positive. Countless studies have shown that exercise can reduce levels of these hormones, thus reducing stress levels and symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Exercise stimulates the production of endorphins. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are all mood-regulating endorphins that are produced during exercise. These neurotransmitters interact with the receptors that reduce the perception of pain. Exercise triggers the dopamine response to send signals to the “pleasure circuits” of the brain. The production of these endorphins has been observed to enhance self-esteem, energy, memory, and resilience.
How to Build an At-Home Workout Plan
Use the following American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) physical activity guidelines. Always consult your physician or a health care professional before starting a new workout routine to determine if it is right for you.
- Healthy adults aged 18-65 years old should participate in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes per day for 5 days per week OR 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week
- Healthy adults aged 18-65 years old should perform strength or endurance activities that work all major muscle groups for a minimum of 2 days per week
- Healthy adults aged 18-65 years old should engage in flexibility and balance exercises 2 to 3 days per week
Schedule your workouts
- Scheduling your workouts like any other important priority in your week (appointments, meetings, etc.) is one of the most helpful strategies for creating a plan because it encourages consistency, frequency, and efficiency.
Select home-friendly aerobic, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises. See this PDF for some great exercise ideas: Home-Friendly Exercises
How to Build Your Own Home Gym
- Buy used equipment- Look for used gym equipment from family and friends or shop on the following websites:
- Find reasonably priced basics- Here are some basics that can be found under $20 to enhance your workout:
- resistance bands
- weighted balls
- jump rope
- stability ball
- Use household items as gym equipment- Get creative and use these common household items to enhance your workout:
- Use a towel as a mat instead of purchasing a yoga mat
- Laundry detergent bottles and canned goods are great replacements for dumbbells
- Staircases can serve as a great cardio tool
- Try using a stable chair as a replacement for a bench
Online Fitness Resources
- Companies offering free programs:
- 24 Hour Fitness
- free access to its 24GO app featuring 1,500 on-demand workouts
- Anytime Fitness
- free daily workout videos on the Anytime Fitness Facebook page
- Orangetheory Fitness
- free 30-minute workouts every day on the Orangetheory Fitness YouTube page
- free workout plans and videos on the YMCA website
- free online yoga and meditation classes on the Corepower website
- Life Time Fitness
- a variety of free workout classes on the Life Time Fitness website
- Nike Training Club
- the free Nike Training Club app has a variety of at-home fitness routines
- 305 Fitness
- free cardio dance live streams twice daily on the 305 Fitness YouTube channel
- 24 Hour Fitness
Get to know our author:
Schuldt brings us her exercise knowledge as a senior majoring in Health and Exercise Science with a Health Promotion Concentration. She is interested in weight management as well as cooking. A fun fact about Schuldt is that she has been super passionate about cooking since she was young. She loves to cook for family and friends and strongly believes that food brings people together. Schuldt says she is always looking for new recipes and healthy ingredients to incorporate into nutritious meals.
For additional resources to healthy eating, check out these programs from our registered dietitian nutritionists. Find delicious and healthy recipes on our Recipes page! More health tips are also available at the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board. Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for the KRNC monthly newsletter!