Now is the time for health and resiliency. With the advent of COVID-19, it’s time you occupy an unbreakable body. But becoming resilient is not just about washing your hands. It includes remaining physically active (even with social distancing).
Physical activity regulates and supports physiological processes affecting all systems of your body. Movement plays a fundamental part in reducing stress levels while enhancing your immune system. Since exercise is medicine, it plays a pivotal role in managing diseases and pathological conditions. On top of that, it improves physical ability in the aging process.
When it comes to getting strong, it’s not just about lifting heavier weights anymore. The new strong builds on the science of achieving a more resilient body. Check off these boxes to reach your new state of strong.
- Take into account your global health status. You don’t have to become a hypochondriac. Get in touch with your body’s systems. Are you feeling feverish? Do you have a sore throat? For dealing with the current COVID-19 situation, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends staying physically active. Tuning into your body for any symptoms of other illnesses prior to physical activity ensures you’re picking the appropriate way to move your body. Moderate physical activity is better than intense exercise for improving immune function. And there are times that resting it out instead of sweating it out is best.
- Meet the requirements for physical exercise. The World Health Organization recommends a weekly program of regular exercise that includes 150 minutes of moderately intense or 75 minutes of vigorously intense cardiorespiratory exercise. Requirements also include resistance exercise for strengthening major muscle groups twice a week. Requirements don’t have to be met all at once, and are best when broken down into 10-minute increments throughout the day.
- Make progress on all aspects of fitness. The ACSM states fitness components include cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, flexibility, coordination, balance and agility. Look for workouts that help you address all of these aspects of fitness, for a more resilient body.
- Include functional movement in your fitness regimen. Functional movements allow your joints to work in a kinetic chain and require more coordination in contrast to isolating joint exercises. For example, lunging sideways and pulling a kettlebell toward your body is more functional than performing a biceps curl. Another way to make your workout functional is to move in multiple dimensions: forward, backward, laterally and diagonally. Changing the tempo of your movement mimics life and sport, so performing exercises slowly and/or adding speed and momentum also make movement more lifelike.
- Train with specificity and diversity. Maintain your training goal specific to your lifestyle or sport. Include exercises that enhance the movements that are typical in your lifestyle or sport. Then add ones that oppose what you normally do in your sport, to give attention to muscles that would otherwise be neglected. (Think pulling, if you’re accustomed to pushing, for example.) Studies have shown muscle imbalances increase the chances of injury and decrease performance. Diversifying your movement helps address muscular imbalances that can result from sport-specific training, as well as improves your skills and decreases the potential for injury or muscle overuse.
- Balance training and recovery. More is not always better. In fact, overload from intensive workouts and more time spent workout out than recovering may lead to overtraining syndrome (OTS). Because your body’s systems are connected, this kind of overload may lead to dysfunction in your immune, neurological, hormonal and metabolic system. Feelings of fatigue linger and most often, your athletic performance declines. OTS may last many months and may sometimes be indefinite.
- Learn the distinction between good pain and bad pain. Delayed onset muscle soreness may sometimes occur 24 to 48 hours after a workout. Pain that is dull, intense or sharp may indicate injury such as a strain or sprain, or another extreme condition. Pain is not “weakness leaving the body,” as some like to say. It’s your body telling you to pay attention.
- Analyze your program. Keep a weekly log and analyze your workouts on a weekly or monthly basis. Are you using different methods to increase aerobic fitness? Are you using both unloaded and weight-bearing training? Are you using different forms of resistance training, including bodyweight training? Do your workouts vary your planes of motion? Does your workout include enough recovery time between sessions? Focus on the process and not the end result.
- Ensure adequate nutrients and calories. Lack of nutrient density and caloric intake may lead to relative energy deficiency in athletics, particularly with heavy training volumes. RED-S may affect physically active men and women alike. A lack of nutrients may lead to hormonal imbalances, low bone density, low iron status and slowing down of normal healing and recovery.
The new strong means placing adequate stress on the various systems of the body and taking a well-balanced approach to your training process. It recognizes adversity while recognizing your body’s abilities, which will evolve. Adapting, being flexible, bending without breaking—that’s strong!