Reset, don’t retreat.
That’s the advice Curtis Christopherson, president of South Surrey-based Innovative Fitness, has for local residents who may find themselves at home a lot more these days, in light of the COVID-19 virus outbreak and recommendations – from quarantines to “social distancing” and working from home – that have followed in recent days.
In an attempt to slow the spread of the virus, sports leagues across the region – including recreational hockey leagues and all BC Soccer-sanctioned programs – have hit pause or cancelled their seasons outright, while many privately-owned fitness centres and all city-run recreation facilities are also closed, including the Grandview Aquatic Centre, South Surrey Indoor Pool and South Surrey Recreation Centre, and White Rock’s Centre for Active Living, among others.
In turn, that means people have to adjust their daily routines, finding new ways to get exercise, and perhaps adapt to new schedules now that they’re dealing with children home from school and new remote-work setups, for example.
“The big thing is that people are going to be cooped up at home, in a potential lock-down or working from home and trying to maintain a certain level of self-isolation… but the big thing we can’t forget is that physical fitness helps boost immune systems,” said Christopherson on Monday, just a few hours after he announced all Innovative Fitness locations would be closed for at least two weeks.
“And not only from a physical standpoint, but emotionally and mentally, (exercise) is also super helpful. Part of this protocol is to social-distance ourselves, so we’re kind of forced to retreat, so ensuring that we get some kind of physical activity is even more important, to make sure we maintain a certain level of health and well-being. I think it’s something people should prioritize – especially while the weather is good.”
Though people are being encouraged to stay home, there is still – for now at least – the option to get outside and, at the very least, stretch your legs, Christopherson noted.
“Go for a walk or a run – just go out and get some fresh air. Vitamin D is super important for our health, so if you’re working from home, take a break from your desk and go out and get some fresh air,” he said.
There are also plenty of workout plans that don’t require any equipment. Christopherson suggested adapting a “body weight” workout – many of which can be found online – that includes equipment-free options such as push-ups, crunches, squats and similar activities.
“If you have a gym at home, then that’s awesome. If you have a Peleton or workout videos, then that’s great, too. But if you don’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t do something,” he said.
“You don’t need to have the latest technology to stay active and fit. You can actually cycle through a pretty decent workout without gear.”
Canadian Olympian has taken his workout routine in-house. https://t.co/vLlBRHAlPd
— Nick (@ngreenizan) March 17, 2020
While the physical benefits to trying to maintain some level of activity are obvious, the mental aspect is just as important, if not more so, during this unprecedented time of concern, stress and lifestyle adjustments.
“It helps you stay positive, and stimulate endorphins, and it’s stress relief, and helps you sleep better – all that stuff is important to remember,” Christopherson said. “We can’t just retreat, and a lot of times under stress, that’s what people do.”
Motivation can also be an issue for people when they are, by and large, confined to their homes, but to combat malaise, Christopherson suggested joining fitness-related Facebook groups or perhaps start a group-chat with like-minded friends that may also be trying to stay active.
“Chat with your friends and hold each other accountable during this time,” Christopherson said.
“That also helps because we’re all still going to need some level of social connection, so find ways to connect with people.”
One former Semiahmoo Peninsula resident is doing just that.
Through a message on Instagram, Jordan Mara – a former standout athlete at White Rock Christian Academy and the University of Arizona – invited his friends and social-media followers to join him in a Whatsapp group, where they’d keep each other motivated by participating in a chin-up challenge.
“I think virtual communities with a challenge emphasis are a really cool concept for a time like this,” said Mara, who now lives in Squamish.
Aside from actual exercise, now could also be a good time to focus on other aspects of your health and well-being, Christopherson said.
If you’re normally an active person but are nursing a nagging injury, take some time to recover. Or, as a pre-emptive measure to avoid future injuries, he suggests undertaking an improved stretching routine to improve flexibility and mobility.
Now could also be a good time to improve your nutrition and eating habits, especially in light of recommendations that people steer clear of busy restaurants and bars.
“Experiment in the kitchen. People, generally, want to cook their own food right now… so go find healthy recipes and try to make them. Use this time to refine your habits at home,” Christopherson said.
“We’re in this time where we’re being forced to slow down a little bit, so take advantage of it.”