How to Ease Back into an Active Lifestyle after Quarantine to Prevent Back Pain
By Savanna Stone //
A lot of states are reopening schools this fall. After staying inside for so long, how do you plan on keeping you and your kids’ backs healthy from being so sedentary to suddenly active. I’m sure your kids ran around the yard sometimes, but I bet they also had a lot of extra screen time during their time indoors. Here are a few tips on how to ease you and your kids back into an active lifestyle.
Find an activity you love. Choose something you like doing to ease back into exercise that keeps your heart healthy, your muscles strong, and helps you maintain your weight. If you or your kids love swimming, use that as your exercise. If you love biking through beautiful scenery, running along a river trail, or dancing to Disney movies, do it! It’s the perfect way to stay active and ease into harder activities like intense workouts (if that’s your goal). While you should do what you love, a moderate-level work (when you can talk but not sing during your workout) is what is best for your body.
Start slow. If you haven’t been active for several months because of COVID-19 or, let’s face it, you haven’t been active for a few years just because working out is hard, ease back into it. You don’t want to start off doing something too hard because that will not only hurt your muscles, but it will hurt your ego as well and deter you from motivating yourself to keep going. Easing your body and mind back into the gym will help you make it a more enjoyable habit. If it’s hard to find time in your new schedule, try changing the small things you do to add exercise into your day: take the stairs, clean your house energetically, stand at your desk, roll out on the Chirp Wheel. These little things will help kickstart you into better habits.
Take no less than 30. Thirty minutes a day is what is the recommended time each day to do something active for adults, at least 5 times a week (60 minutes is recommended for children). You can even spread that time out throughout the day for the same benefits. Do 10 minutes three times a day or 15 minutes twice. Do whatever works for you, just try not to do any less (more is fine!). Doing 30 minutes a day will help keep your endurance up so that working out only gets easier. Adding this exercise time into your life will help with your health and your pain relief.
Stretch. Take time to stretch at least three times a week. You might think that building muscle and aerobic fitness is more important than flexibility, but that’s not the case. In fact, flexibility can help you build muscle tone and increase your ability to perform aerobic activities. Some health specialists suggest that stretching should be done daily to maintain range of motion and to keep your muscle fibers flexible, healthy, and strong. When you go a long period without stretching, your muscle fibers become tight and short. Then when the time comes for you to call upon your muscles, whether that means lifting or running, you have increased your risk for muscle strains, sprains, or damage dramatically. Stretching consistently will help protect you from injury.
Strengthen your muscles. Doing weight lifting and resistance training will help keep your muscles and bones healthy and will help you improve balance and coordination, making things easier for you as you get older.
Switch up your routine. Doing the same thing every day will get boring for you and your muscles. Try and add a variety of exercises into your routine. Join a yoga class or go walking with a friend. Switching up your routine will help motivate you to keep your healthy exercising habit. You don’t even have to spend all your money on a gym to add variety to your workout. There are plenty of free resources online of workouts you can do at home. But if going to a gym is what motivates you, go right ahead!
It’s NOT all or nothing. If you miss a day of exercise, don’t let that discourage you. Just jump back in tomorrow. The all-or-nothing attitude discourages a lot of people from sticking with it. It takes time to create good habits, so be kind to yourself if you miss a day. It’s okay! Life gets busy. Just get right back in the saddle tomorrow.
Don’t expect magic. If you're worried about getting back to the skinnier or stronger body you used to have, remember that that’s not going to happen from one workout session. It will take time and consistent work to get to your goals.
Be kind to yourself and your body. Even though your body does a lot for you, it’s easy to forget. Instead of finding flaws in your body, try finding the good. Self-compassion will help you make exercise a habit. Teach your kids this too if they get down on themselves. They will be more likely to make exercise a lifetime habit if you teach them to be kind to themselves now.
Stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water as you ease back into your active lifestyle. Water will keep your energy up and help your muscles and joints get the nutrients they need for your workout.
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Harvard Health. (2019, September 25). The importance of stretching. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-importance-of-stretching#:~:text=Why%20stretching%20is%20important,to%20extend%20all%20the%20way.
Health & Human Services. (2020). Ways to be active. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/fitness/be-active/ways-to-be-active/index.html
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Mayo Clinic. (2020). Stretching: focus on flexibility. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931?pg=2&reDate=08072020
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UC Davis. (2020). Why stretching is extremely important. Retrieved from https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/blog/archive/healthy-habits/why-stretching-extremely-important