May is National Fitness and Sports Month, a title that until a few months ago might have held a different perspective to most people. In what seemed like an instant, the COVID-19 pandemic forced closure of gyms, fitness facilities, pools, etc. These closures along with the rising temperatures outdoors have created a challenge for most people to adapt to new forms of exercise. In my profession, Physical Therapy, I have also been challenged to adapt my way of treatment as we have switched some patients over to Telehealth visits in order to increase our safety measures. It has forced me to think outside of the comforts of my clinic where I have all the equipment I need to treat a patient effectively. I have had to adapt to utilizing what a patient has at home in order to give them the best outcome. It may not be the “best” compared to what they could get in our office, but it’s still a positive step in the right direction. It’s a challenge I hope those staying at home can overcome in order to stay healthy for their immune system, body, etc., but also for their own mental well being.
Statistically only one in three adults receive the recommended amount of physical activity each week.(1) That statistic is under normal circumstances with the desired equipment, facilities, etc. in place and accessible. I imagine as the pandemic timeline extends and people lose momentum keeping up with only limited activity options, that number will decrease. I have heard many different perspectives through patients, family, and friends about the closures forcing people to change up their workout routines. “I can’t workout unless I go to the gym.” is a phrase I’ve heard numerous times. Rigidity in thought processes like this are setting people up for failure because there are plenty of other options. Even though it’s not the exact routine you are accustomed to, that doesn’t mean it isn’t providing your body a benefit. Changes in your routine brings about new potential and possibilities. Perhaps there is a fitness routine you’ve never tried before that could be better than what you were doing before. Thankfully due to the internet, the possibilities are at our fingertips, many even free. Also, changes in your routine can help with injury prevention. Working different muscle groups, integrating a stretching routine, or even just changing your movement patterns can give areas a rest that were being overworked and strengthen areas that were lacking in a highly structured, unvaried workout routine. Explore different options like yoga, pilates, Tai Chi, etc. Many people do not incorporate enough stretching into their routines. Now is the time to integrate things like this, so when you can return to the gym there are some things you’ve learned that you can carry with you.
While this pandemic is a heavy time for everyone, in some ways it could be a reset for some people. It could be a time to recognize that what you were doing before wasn’t actually working or could be improved. It could round out your workout routine to include things that improve your overall well being and mentally challenge you to do something different that day. And just maybe you’ll find something new you never knew you enjoyed that you’ll continue past this pandemic.
Jessica Super PT, DPT, CSCS
Dynamic Physical Therapy