Updates from EIM

Being Active Now – A Different Spin

July 14, 2020 by Robyn Stuhr, M.A., ACSM-CEP, RCEP

Robyn Stuhr, MA, ACSM-CEP, RCEP is Vice President of Exercise is Medicine.  She shares her personal insights on pivoting one’s physical activity routine during the COVID-19 pandemic - using active transportation.  Robyn currently lives and works in Indianapolis, IN.

We live in a new world where restaurants and shops are opening up in a limited fashion. A trip to the grocery store means navigating the aisles past people who may or may not be wearing face coverings. Gyms are reopening but with various safety precautions including masks and social distancing. It’s an altered universe. 

What have I learned about being active in the time of the coronavirus (COVID-19)?  I’ve found that going outdoors for a walk or a bike ride is a lifesaver, both physically and mentally. 

I feel better.  I breathe deep.  I am free. 

Even if my previous gym workouts have been compromised, I’ve discovered another way to deal with the stress and anxiety of the times.  And it’s made me think more about the role of active transportation in my health and the health of our communities. I live in a city and have found streets and paths that are great for walks.  Getting out first thing in the morning starts my day on a positive note. There are fewer people around and the air is cool. 

  • If I need to go to the grocery store or pharmacy, I throw a mask in my backpack and walk or bike there. 
  • Drop something off at the local post office? Walk or bike.   
  • Pick up carry-out for dinner?  Walk or bike.
  • Visit a friend for a 6-ft social distancing happy hour on her patio?  Hop on my bike.

 I’m giving my car a break and helping my city have cleaner air.  

Since the data at this time indicate that one is more likely to catch COVID-19 if they’re exposed indoors, the streets and parks have become my playground. Working remotely (as I am now) provides greater flexibility and allows me to wear more casual attire that promotes easy physical activity throughout the day.

I realize that not everyone lives where streets are safe or roads have bike lanes.  More cities need to implement transportation, building and safety plans that make it safe for all pedestrians regardless of age or ability. Protected bike lanes, connected sidewalks, narrow street crossings, streetlights, benches and trees for shade all add to a safer, more inviting place to walk, bike or roll for exercise or transportation. (The American Fitness Index just released its 2020 rankings of the fittest US cities, which includes environmental indicators. Find out how your city is doing.)  I’ve found that with a little exploring, I can avoid dangerous zones and discover wonderful quiet neighborhoods and small parks. 

The 2018 Physical Activity Recommendations for Americans reinforce the value of any and all movement – 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, 30 minutes all at once.  Walking, biking, and a few strength exercises in the living room are easy to weave into your day. It all adds up to better health and the recommended 150 minutes per week of physical activity.  

Let’s use these challenging times as an opportunity to find a new, active way of living.  What do they say about life handing you lemons? Outside activities throughout the day have become my “lemonade”.

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