No one was able to predict what was in store as we rang in the New Year for 2020. We are all living through unprecedented times as COVID-19 continues to cause a global pandemic. 2020 has definitely kept us on our toes. We have endured economic shut downs, various strategies for social distancing, working and schooling from home and implementation of mask wearing in hopes to curb the spread of this virus. Although these measures are necessary to protect ourselves and loved ones, these measures themselves are not void of negative side effects.
Feelings of loneliness and social disengagement are a couple of the negative side effects that have been seen as this pandemic progresses. This year has served a limited opportunity for in person interaction and for group activities. Due to the complexities and nature of this pandemic people are experiencing more stress. Prolonged effects of stress can lead to both mental and physical ailments. Mental health is compromised with feelings of loneliness and isolation. With the lack of social interaction and the “unknowns” of the world we live in, these feelings have contributed to higher rates of depression and anxiety since the COVID-19 pandemic started earlier this year. Physical health can also be compromised with prolonged exposure to stress. Weight gain, increased risk for heart disease, stroke, as well as digestive and sleep disturbances have all been linked to excessive stress. Exercise is an excellent way to help combat this influx of stress, especially during these trying times.
Exercise can have a positive effect on overall health. Moderate exercise can reduce risk for depression and anxiety as well as improve restful sleep which can contribute to feeling better overall. Exercise is beneficial for weight management and can lower risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It promotes bone and joint health and can have a positive effect on chronic pain syndromes. Regular exercise has also been linked to improving immune function, as well as promoting longevity of the immune system through the lifespan. This seems important now more than ever!
As we approach the holiday season, exercise should be at the forefront of our minds. With the added stressors of 2020 and with decreased opportunities for group exercise activities, competitions etc, staying active and healthy throughout the holiday season is important to start 2021 off on a good note.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the following are recommended exercise guidelines for adults:
Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day.
For substantial health benefits adults should participate in 2.5-5 hours/week of moderate intensity exercises (walking, riding bike, hiking, etc) OR 1.25-2.5 hours/week of vigorous exercise (running, cycling, swimming, tennis, etc).
Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond 5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.
Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity 2 or more days a week.
Exercise can be safe for almost anyone if approached the right way. Each person is at a different fitness level and this should be considered when starting or progressing your exercise journey. Individuals that have a lower fitness level may have to start with light intensity exercise like walking versus a moderate to vigorous intensity exercise like running. Progressing exercise should be systematic. First, increase the duration and frequency of exercise as you build up stamina and endurance. Then, progress the intensity of exercises. By approaching exercise in this angle, it promotes safety. This will decrease your risk of injury compared to jumping right into an exercise routine that may be too advanced for your current fitness level.
If you have previous injury or health conditions that may compromise your ability to safely start an exercise program, health care professionals with expertise in exercise and musculoskeletal function can help get you on the right track. Your Physical Therapist can perform a thorough assessment of your joint and muscle function, give you areas to work on and teach you how to progress your exercise routine safely. This can help to prevent injury and allow you to stick to your program and meet your goals.
At Dynamic Physical Therapy and Wellness, we offer a Dynamic Movement Assessment. This includes an evaluation of general body movement and strength to identify areas of limitation or weakness that would impact function, movement or efficiency with workouts. This can be a great tool to prevent injury by finding potential problem areas. Then, you can target these areas with specific exercise and hands on techniques with the guidance of your Physical Therapist. The Dynamic Movement Assessment can also be performed prior to the initiation of your exercise program for goal setting and it can be re-measured throughout to track advancements with your program. The Dynamic Movement Assessment is a great tool to see objective progress toward your specific goals.
Let’s end this year healthier, happier and motivated to begin 2021 in a positive light! Get up and get moving, whatever that looks like for you. If you need help getting started or are interested in seeing what your Dynamic Movement Assessment reveals, call us TODAY at Dynamic Physical Therapy and Wellness to schedule your assessment and ensure that you Perform Better, Live Better, Get Better!
Hwang TJ, Rabheru K, Peisah C, Reichman W, Ikeda M. Loneliness and social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Int Psychogeriatr. 2020;32(10):1217-1220.
Czeisler MÉ , Lane RI, Petrosky E, et al. Mental Health, Substance Use, and Suicidal Ideation During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1049–1057. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6932a1external icon
Campbell JP, Turner JE. Debunking the Myth of Exercise-Induced Immune Suppression: Redefining the Impact of Exercise on Immunological Health Across the Lifespan. Front Immunol. 2018;9:648. Published 2018 Apr 16. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2018.00648
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018.