Dr. C here.
The most important things you can do right now are dial in your exercise, diet, and sleep routines. I’ve talked a lot about food and diet, but how can you exercise when you have to stay inside and the gyms are closed?
For starters, let’s talk about what an ideal exercise routine looks like. At a bare minimum, you want to include cardiovascular training and strength training. When you can, balance work, agility, and hand-eye coordination are also important for various reasons.
In the past, I also recommended flexibility training but now I’m not so sure. I’ve looked at a fair amount of recent data that suggests that stretching does not help people prevent injury or improve performance.
Done in high amounts it may increase range of motion but that does not seem to prevent falls or injuries. You may need more range of motion if you are a gymnast, dancer, or martial artist. The rest of us may not.
I’d put yoga in a different category because much of its benefits seem to relate to improved mood, relaxation, and reductions in chronic pain.
How much, what types, and what can you do at home?
For health, brain function and immunity, any amount helps. The more the better up to about 90 minutes per day. Past this is not harmful but does not show much additional benefit. If you are used to none, 90 minutes per day would be too much!
If you have had chronic pain or injuries, don’t assume you can’t be active. I’ve been an athlete my whole life despite complications of cerebral palsy. I’ve had countless surgeries, procedures, and time spent in rehab.
Through it all I’ve come to believe that anyone can be active as long as they choose activities they tolerate, are consistent and do something every day, and ramp up gradually enough.
To ramp up, increase your weekly time spent by 10% per week. The other model is that if you do step it up faster, only increase once per 3 weeks, giving your body that much time before further increases.
What can you do right now? You may be able to run, jog, walk, hike, or bike outdoors. If you can while maintaining proper physical distancing, please do. If you don’t have safe outdoor access, make use of any home machines like treadmills or elliptical trainers. If you have a bicycle, you can get an indoor trainer on which you can mount your bike and ‘ride’ it inside. These can be under $100 and take up little room when not in use.
If you don’t have indoor equipment – here is a video I recently made about how to do cardio with nothing more than a step.
I’d encourage a minimum of strength exercises twice per week per body part. If you have some home equipment, you’re set. If not – it is pretty easy.
Think about basic motions – upper body = pushing, pulling, and core. Lower body – bending, stepping, and squatting.
You can do a whole-body workout in 10 minutes with no equipment. I’ve made you a quick video that shows all of these with options in case you’re new to fitness.
To your best health,
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Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet, The Metabolism Reset Diet and The Thyroid Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, diabetes, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.