COVID-19 & Exercise: Things to think about as gyms re-open

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strong-female-athlete-in-medical-mask-warming-up-before-4127529It’s been a few months since things started shutting down and changing in response to COVID-19. As gyms and other fitness studios start to re-open, a lot of us are chomping at the bit to get back in and start sweating. Here are five things to keep in mind while we all get back to our regular workout routines during COVID-19.

Adjust your intensity

It’s summer! Summer means heat and maybe some extra humidity. This means if you’re outside exercising with a mask on, it might feel harder to breathe even if you are exercising at a lower intensity than normal. That’s okay!

When I go running, I prefer to run in temperatures around 0-5 degrees Celsius. These feel the best for me – I’m warm from exercising, but my body can regulate its temperature well. Usually I can run around 9 minutes/mile and my heart rate will be in the 160s or 170s. The summer is a completely different story! I went running last week when it was 30 degrees outside and I was running 11 minutes/mile and my heart rate was over 185bpm! I wasn’t wearing a mask and was doing my usual route but the environment had a huge impact on how I was able to exercise.

Monitor how hard you’re working with either the talk test, you should be able to talk and hold a conversation but not sing!┬áIf you have a heart rate monitor then also keep an eye on that. If you are aiming for moderate exercise, aim for 50-70% of your age predicted max heart rate (220-age)

Start low and progress slow

It’s been a minute since we were able to do our regular exercise routine. Our bodies are really efficient and don’t like to waste energy keeping around tissues (think muscles) that we aren’t using. You might find that even if you’ve been exercising at home, things feel a little bit different or harder once you get into the gym. That’s okay! Start low (lower than you would maybe expect) and progress slowly. After a few weeks of regularly being in the gym, you can start to increase the intensity, weight, etc. This will also make sure you don’t get injured!

Listen to your body

How often do you set an exercise goal and you start out exercising every day for a few weeks before you’re inevitably injured? We want to avoid over-doing it just as we get started! Starting low and progressing slow should help you prevent injury but listening to your body is equally as important. You might experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after you workout. That’s a feeling of stiffness and general soreness and it’s usually in the muscles that you exercised. It typically peaks 36-48 hours after your workout and then gets better. If I workout today (Wednesday), I’ll be a little sore tomorrow, but peak soreness will probably be on Friday and I should be feeling better on the weekend.

If the feeling lingers longer than that or you feel it in the joint rather than the muscle you might have done something to injure yourself. Pain that is sharp, shooting, stabbing, or tingly is also a bad sign. Take a little bit of extra time to give yourself time to recover. If it persists then go see a physio.

Figure out what works for you

It’s been a crazy few months (I won’t call them unprecedented;)) and we’ve all had to change our routines. The last 3 months have been just long enough for us to find new routines and things are still very different so what worked for you in January or February might not work for you now. That’s okay! Take some time to find a new routine that fits you.

Some gyms might have also closed down leaving you in the hunt for a new space to make your workout out. Here are some things to consider when finding a new gym or looking for a new personal trainer.

Follow the rules

Each province, region, and gym is going to have different rules. Make sure you know what the rules are for your area and gym and follow them! Stay home if you feel unwell, have been travelling, or come into contact with someone that is tested positive for COVID-19.

Ready to make a health change but don’t know where to start? Take our health quiz to get some healthy living tips sent to your inbox.

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