We are all facing huge uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic; this uncertainty makes staying active and connected to our friends and family even more important. But with the closing of gyms, social distancing and even “stay-at-home” orders, getting active and staying connected seems harder than ever. However, on almost every “coping with a crisis” list, you will find advice to be or remain physically active. Physical activity has multiple physical and mental health benefits; in particular, it gives us control over a positive aspect of our lives. Similarly, staying connected to our social groups provides familiarity, solidarity and comfort.
Despite the immense challenges presented by the pandemic, AICR’s Strava Club is a great resource to help you incorporate more physical activity into your daily routine. Strava is a fitness tracking platform that records your activities and provides an online community to keep you motivated and supported. No matter what your age or fitness level is, anyone can join AICR’s Strava Club for free.
To help you get active and stay accountable, we have launched the AICR Get Active 150 Challenge that is currently running through the month of April. Encourage your friends and family to join to connect online and stay healthy together!
The first item on any crisis coping list is always personal safety, so you must make that your top priority. Make sure your plan for incorporating physical activity into your daily routine is consistent with your local circumstances. If your local advisory allows, go outside to get active; sunshine and fresh air provide a great sense of freedom and positivity that make outdoor activities more rewarding. But if it is not safe to get active outside, there are plenty of indoor options available too.
No matter where you are getting active, it is important to follow social distancing measures to protect your health and the health of others, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Get Active Outside
- Go for a bike ride! If you are a regular rider, keep it up. But be especially careful to avoid high risk areas – now is definitely the time to play it safe. If you haven’t ridden in a while, find a quiet and flat area where you can refamiliarize yourself. Once you feel confident, choose a safe route and enjoy the simple thrill of self-propelled fun!
- Take a walk! Walking is the easiest, most inexpensive and accessible exercise that we can do. If you have not been active recently, pace yourself and build up the distance and time sensibly. If you are typically active, now might be the time to make your walks more purposeful, faster and longer. Add hills to your route for extra intensity or seek out that destination you have been meaning to explore.
- Run! Like walking, it is readily available and can take you to some wonderful places. Just remember to ease into it gently if you have not been running regularly. Find a pace and distance that you can enjoy and build upon.
Get Active Inside
- Yoga! Grab your mat or just some space on the floor. There are a handful of free yoga videos available online. Choose one that suits your skill level and preferred intensity. Namaste!
- Body weight exercises and/or circuit training! You don’t need a home gym to work out. Make a list of 4-6 exercises that you will do for 30-60 seconds with 1-minute rests in between. A few simple, but effective exercises are squat thrusts, jumping jacks, body weight squats, sit-ups/crunches, burpees, push-ups and tricep dips. If you have elastic exercise bands, you can add additional, resistance-based options too. Repeat the circuit 3 times or for about 30-40 minutes for a full-body workout. If you haven’t done these exercises before, take it easy the first few times or find exercises online that are suitable for your current fitness level.
Any of these activities can easily add up to your 30 minutes of activity 5 days per week, to reach the minimum of 150 minutes of activity per week that AICR recommends for cancer prevention. Why not try to see if you can do a different activity each day of the week? And don’t forget to share your progress with your friends, family, colleagues and fellow AICR Strava Challenge participants. We are all more likely to stick with our new habits if we share them with our peers; sharing provides that subconscious accountability. Maybe you will be the catalyst for one of your peers taking up the challenge and not only will it help you endure the current crisis, it will reduce your cancer risk, too!
Let’s create a pandemic of positivity and help everyone reduce cancer risk in the process.