Many of us are still facing changed routines and increased stress levels. We are trying to return to our old exercise routines, but we aren’t responding like we used to. Alternatively, some patients are finding themselves increasing or changing up their exercise routine due to having additional time or preferring the safety of home exercise. Regardless of your circumstances, here are some tips to help make your exercise routine work for you!
First and foremost – Hydration Is Key!
Due to wearing masks, many of us are not habitually taking in as much water as we used to. As a reminder, we want half of our body weight in ounces of water each day with an additional 8 ounces for about every 15 minutes of exercise. For example, a 160lb person should intake 80 ounces, or 10 cups, of water per day. It can be easier to break this down into “how many water bottles a day”, such as filling your 25 ounce water bottle about three times a day. Consider using a personal reusable straw or water bottle with a spout as a safe way to stay hydrated. You might notice a boost in energy and positivity upon fulfilling your daily water intake needs while helping avoid medical conditions associated with dehydration, such as headaches or kidney stones.
Do I need to exercise differently if I’m stressed?
Many people enjoy the “endorphin rush” and well-documented health benefits of anaerobic activities. Yet, in times of high stress, performing such types of exercises may be less beneficial and contribute to stress. If you are experiencing a high level of stress in your life (be from a new diet, work, virtual learning, etc.), consider lower stress activities that are still beneficial, such as Tai Chi, Yoga, and resistance training. Tai Chi is excellent for deconditioned individuals or those looking to improve their balance. Yoga would be an excellent choice for those looking to increase their flexibility and potentially incorporate aspects of meditation. Resistance training helps build muscle volume, which increases your metabolic rate [read: burn more calories while at rest] and is beneficial for those with low bone density conditions such as osteopenia or osteoporosis.
When and how can I increase my activity level safely?
It is important to take any beginning or change in exercise routine slowly, about 5% increase in either time or effort each week. Think of your body like a rechargeable battery. For example, extroverts get energized with socialization while introverts feel drained. At the end of your day, as yourself, “Do I feel more energized or drained after performing X activity today?” If you felt more sluggish, irritable, or less able to handle daily stress, then consider a 5% reduction in your routine that week. If you felt more excited for the day and more efficient while performing daily tasks, consider increasing your activity 5% the following week.
Additionally, consider how your sleep and eating habits have been. Are you able to fall asleep reasonably quickly and stay soundly asleep, or do you find your mind racing? Have you been able to restore your drained resources with an adequate amount of healthy foods, or are you short on time and primarily refueling on processed meals? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs dictates you should focus first on revitalizing with good food before managing an intense workout routine.
It should take you no more than 24 hours to recover from your last activity. If you find it takes longer than that, consider a shorter, less strenuous session the following time. If under high stress in your life, you should feel like you can repeat your entire workout at the end of it. You want enough activity for your body to release endorphins, and to slightly elevate your heart rate. If your body is under lower stress, you can do something more intense, as your body has the resources to recover without further stressing itself. At the end of your workout you may feel like your tank is empty, but after you shower and some time to recover, you feel energized and focused.
Take a moment to prevent debilitating injuries.
Take time before and afterward to “listen to your body,” feel what aches or is sore. This mental exercise of taking inventory of your body’s needs will help you stay ahead of any impending injuries. Make sure you warm-up and cool down, and stretch your muscles. Another way of keeping your body in great alignment is by receiving treatments from AIM, such as getting an ACE, chiropractic adjustment, Rolfing or massage.