Whether you are working from home, self-isolating, or social distancing, it is vital to keep your fitness and energy levels high. The WHO states that exercise is important for battling a wide range of health issues, and perhaps most relevant in these times of isolation, is the improvement of mental health and a reduction in the risk of depression. Furthermore, David Nieman, Dr.PH., a health professor at Appalachian State University and director of the Human Performance Lab at the North Carolina Research Campus, suggests that “Getting in 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to brisk activity can help your immune system keep viruses at bay.”
But with gyms and sports centers closed to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission, it has become more challenging to exercise, perhaps as inversely easy as it is to put on weight, what with the fridge and the snacks cupboard even closer at hand.
So, we have to find different ways to keep fit while keeping our distance from others. Below are a few ideas that you can try to help keep the pounds off, the immune system up, and maintain a healthy brain.
With all of these suggestions, please keep in mind that you should remain two meters away from others. Also, do not exercise if you have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Stay home and rest, seek medical attention, and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
Jogging is a great aerobic exercise and needs little equipment – just a pair of decent shoes and the will to run. Fortunately, Nagoya has great places in which you can jog, and you can find a few of them here.
However, keep in mind that you should be maintaining your distance from others, which isn’t always so easy when in parks and the like, and it may be an idea to keep your mask on. As frustrating as it can be when the pair of old ladies walking on the path in front of you are trundling along at a glacial pace, resist the urge to squeeze past, as your breath droplets can spread easily, as this research shows. While the research is yet to be peer-reviewed, it is perhaps better to be safe than sorry.
Cycling is my preferred exercise of choice, particularly as when you are out on the road, the only other people you are likely to come into contact with will be safely ensconced in their cars. Fortunately, there are some great places to ride from Nagoya, such as here. Or, if you use Garmin, I’d recommend hopping on a train to Kozoji or Seto and letting the app plan a route for you.
Of course, it is crucial to remain vigilant, as Dr. Kate Hattersley, who works with charity Cycling UK, points out:
“There is no reason for you to stop cycling at present, but make sure to do so at a safe distance from others. You should carry tissues to use when cycling, disposing of them safely in a bin as soon as possible.”
You should also take as much food and water as possible for your ride, to help you avoid having to stop in a shop and make social contact.
Hiking, whether it be a gentle walk or a strenuous climb, is not only great exercise but also gets you out into the great outdoors, which does wonders for the spirit. The Tokai region has some lovely places to walk, as you can see here.
As with jogging, you should remember to keep your distance from other hikers, particularly when passing. Also, if you must travel on public transport, do so during off-peak times to minimize contact with commuters.
Furthermore, keep in mind that, if you are leaving Aichi, you are traveling from one of Japan’s Corona hotspots, potentially bringing with you the disease to areas that have been thus far untouched. If you decide to travel (not recommended), bring enough food and drink to avoid unnecessary contact in shops, restaurants, and cafes.
It is likely that you will be spending long periods of time in the house, and if you have a step counter on your smartphone or smartwatch, it is easy to see how little you move about.
The following is advice from the WHO:
“Try and reduce long periods of time spent sitting, whether for work, studying, watching TV, reading, or using social media or playing games using screens. Reduce sitting for long periods by taking short 3-5 minute breaks every 20-30 minutes. Simply stand up and stretch or even better, take a walk around the house.
“Set up a regular routine to be active every day, by planning a physical activity or exercise break either by yourself, by joining an online class, or by setting up a time to be active online with your friends or colleagues. Making a specific time to be active helps ensure you get your daily physical activity. Put the time in your diary, and it will help remind you.”
If you are new to home exercise, there are online resources that can help you with setting up a routine, and many YouTube trainers are putting up new material every day. Personally, to supplement my daily bike rides, I have been using Tom Merrick‘s flexibility improvement videos, but you should consider what your personal goal is – weight loss, flexibility, strength – type it into YouTube, and find a trainer who suits your needs.
If you have children with energy to burn, I can highly recommend The Body Coach TV, AKA Joe Wicks. Since the UK went into lockdown, Wicks has been putting up daily PE classes for kids and has taken the country by storm. And you might want to try it along with your children. These classes are not quite as easy as you might think…
Image by Jean Henrique Wichinoski (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flickr.com
Image by jamesjustin via flickr.com [CC by NC.ND 2.0] – Modified
Image by Mark Guthrie [Own Work]
Image by DocteurCosmos (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Image via https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=home+workout – screenshot