At-home exercise can keep fitness level intact
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippians are finding ways to stay fit while sheltering in place to avoid looking like the humans in the animated movie “Wall-E” after generations of inert life on spaceships.
Melissa Luckett, a Mississippi State University employee now working from home, is also exercising at home.
“Initially, the biggest challenge was replicating the same level of intensity that I would get from my gym classes,” Luckett said. “The online videos from my gym solved that problem, but another challenge is maintaining discipline. While there is more flexibility about when I exercise, I have to be careful because there is more temptation to delay my workouts which can led to skipping altogether.”
Luckett joined a gym when she got serious about her fitness, knowing that paying a monthly membership fee would be great motivation to stay active. Along the way, she discovered deep friendships with her workout buddies and enjoyed workout classes led by highly qualified professionals. She now is trying to duplicate that at home.
“For fun and family time, I take regular walks or go bike riding with my husband and boys, but for more intense exercise, I use my gym's online exercise videos that they have been posting on Facebook,” she said. “I get the benefit of a challenging workout with the same great instructors but at a time that works best for me.”
The MSU Extension Service offers Advancing, Inspiring, Motivating for Community Health through Extension, or AIM for CHangE. The goal of this program is to create local coalitions to increase physical activity and promote access to healthier foods.
Masey Smith, Extension project manager for AIM for CHangE, said adjusting to the new normal can be challenging on an individual, family and community level.
“To maintain a healthy weight and prevent and reduce weight gain during quarantine, start by etching out a schedule,” Smith said. “Making a schedule can help you feel a sense of normalness. Designate a lunch time and break times, and incorporate a healthy meal plan.
“Be sure to schedule 15- to 20-minute increments of exercise during the workday,” she said. “This could include walking around your house, yard or apartment while on a video call, or placing your computer on a shelf so that you are not sitting down for extended periods.”
Without office hours, commutes, carpool and most parts of a normal day, many Mississippians have more free time than ever before. Without a plan, that downtime can translate into too much time spent in front of the television and too much to eat.
“Make sure you are getting 150 minutes of exercise each week, and make this active family time if possible,” Smith said. “Keep inexpensive, healthy snacks on hand like celery and oranges or other fruit that is in season.”
Marven Cantave, an Extension AIM for CHangE agent working in Humphreys County, said current shelter-in-place requirements are a break in routine that can present a new mental hurdle to efforts to stay fit and healthy.
“Home is a place of comfort and relaxation for most, and not having dedicated a space at home for physical activity prior to the shelter-in-place order can make the task of getting in that workout a bit overwhelming,” Cantave said. “To overcome this, consider taking advantage of the unique online opportunities popping up all over the internet and on social media.”
He urged everyone to use this time of uncertainty to establish some good habits for health and fitness.
“At its core, fitness is being able to function well and engage in activities that you enjoy without too much stress or strain to your body,” Cantave said. “Focus on taking part in the activities that you enjoy and being fully present when engaged in them. Fitness is not so much about a certain look.”
For more information on healthy eating or exercise, visit http://extension.msstate.edu/food-and-health/health/aim-for-change.