By Stephen Doherty
April 19th, 2020
“Exercise is a blessing-not a chore. I work out because am grateful
that I physically can.” –Ronny Steele
With the closing of health clubs, gyms, yoga studios, and every other commercial avenue of exercise-we suddenly find ourselves sequestered in our homes with nothing but our bodies and our ingenuity to continue any kind of physical fitness routine. The good news is that each of us has had extensive training on how to exercise and stay fit. It’s called…our childhoods!
Many of you will nod your heads in agreement because you came from a generation whose childhoods were marinated in non-stop physical activity. You grew up in a time when, courtesy of our public schools, we became intimately familiar with stretching, jumping jacks, squat thrusts (burpees) push-ups, handstands, sit-ups, and pull-ups. At recess, after school, on weekends, and during summers and holidays-we eagerly added running, jumping, and climbing and a variety of traditional sports to our exercise routines. Most of us grew up fit because exercise and fitness was such a huge part of growing up. Hell, we walked through any weather just to get to school!
Today? We are all entering the second month of a national quarantine sequestered in our homes. Many of us (like me) are going through the withdrawal of the shuttering of our neighborhood gyms and weight rooms. Coupled with the stress and anxiety of economic uncertainty-we have the “perfect storm” for dietary abuse and situational lethargy and sloth. Most of us aren’t lazy–just creatures of habit. Absent a gym, we face a significant challenge in pursuing aggressive fitness and exercise regimes. Throw in the narcotic of an almost endless stream of cable and internet distractions, and we have a seductive path to bad health choices and diminished fitness. Many will leave the quarantine with stronger thumbs–and little else.
The solution? It’s so simple as to be humorous. Exercise. Go for a long walk. Tone and strength? Harken back to your elementary school physical fitness classes, and engage in 20-minutes of jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, squats, stretching. I have a very stout coffee table and have been doing sets of step-ups. Find something to hang on.
I found an old, dusty rubber-cable from when I rehabilitated my shoulder from surgery. Damn! There isn’t a gym or weight room exercise I haven’t been able to replicate with this stretch band. They cost $5! I have a bike. We once explored the world atop our Schwinns and blew up our cardio at the same time. All of our days have one thing in common. We are beings in perpetual motion. An occasional slight adjustment to those motions can convert us from couch potatoes to training camp Marines!
With the right (and necessary) attitude, most difficult times come with corresponding benefits and insights. Re-acquainting ourselves with intense activities in place of ritualistic exercise routines has more mental and physical benefits than I can list here. Everything we need to be fit was provided at birth. The only limitation to fitness in the age of quarantine is our own imaginations and willingness to pursue a change in how we exercise. As Newton taught us, “A body in motion tends to stay in motion.” All most of us need is that first step..and then watch physics and the joys of childhood provide the remaining impetus and momentum. You don’t have to enjoy a quarantine to make the best of it and come out of it better than when you entered.
“Food is the most abused anxiety drug.
Exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant!”