How to Stay Fit in the Age of Social Distance

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This year started out looking promising for fitness around the world. With an eye on the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, people set out to make their summer gains and smash out their New Year’s resolutions with enthusiasm. Now what would have been unimaginable just a few months ago for many has happened and Tokyo 2020 is confirmed to take place in 2021.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock in the woods, you know that the coronavirus pandemic has shaken up the world. In this new age of social distancing people find themselves, en masse, stuck inside their homes. Of course, this means that those New Year’s resolutions have been tucked away in a dark room, much like the rest of us, as gyms and exercise classes are canceled to help contain the spread. But, while your plans might be canceled, fitness most certainly is not. There are plenty of ways to lose fat and build muscle without putting yourself or others at risk of illness.

Social Distance Jogging

As noted in this Sports Illustrated article, indoor gyms have become breeding grounds for coronavirus infections and more people are turning to jogging as their exercise of choice. Doctors have said it is safe to go for a jog – as long as you go alone and stay in less-crowded areas.

All you need is a decent pair of running shoes and a quiet path. While finding an uncrowded area in Tokyo may seem like an exercise in futility, there is a surprising number of smaller local parks that have quiet jogging paths.

If you’re an avid treadmill runner, be mindful of your knees as the softer surfaces can add more stress per footfall. If you are hopping on the treadmill for the first time, start running in progression. Start with 1 minute of jogging then 1 minute of walking and repeat. If your system isn’t used to cardio exercise it’s generally good to ease into it.

Workout at Home

For those of us that hate cardio with a fiery passion, it’s still possible to make strength gains at home with little to no equipment. A good place to start are the tried and true classics: push-ups, planks, squats and sit-up variants. All of these can be made more difficult with elevation and varied controlled tempos or rest times. You can also spice things up with some cheap equipment like light dumbbells, bosu-balls and cables. Just make sure you know what you’re doing with them.

Pick a room to set up in that won’t distract you. Working out in front of your TV seems like a good idea until your 30-second break becomes 10 minutes. And if like many of us you’re stranded in a one-room Tokyo apartment and can’t physically escape the luminescent screen, maybe try unplugging when it’s time to work out.

It’s also important to make sure you are working at an appropriate level of difficulty. It can be tempting  to choose a defined rep range and stick to it. Instead of doing 3 sets of 30 push-ups every time, aim for not stopping until you are about 1-2 reps from failing. If you do this and keep your form crisp, you’ll make progress. Just try to keep to 3 to 5 full body workouts per week instead of going all out every day. Recovery is just as important as hard work.

Weather the Tide

If you’ve already been gym training for awhile, don’t worry too much about losing your hard-earned muscles. Even if you do lose out a bit from home workouts, studies show you’ll be able to bounce back no problem after a longer break once the gyms are safe again.

Remember that just because it feels like the world is ending doesn’t mean you have to eat only food that could survive the apocalypse. Even in an emergency situation, grocery stores should stay stocked and open. Try to keep your eating healthy and your body active and you should weather the storm while staying fit.


Feature image: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

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