Building the Foundation of Strength during Covid-19

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Staying fit and healthy now is as important as ever. As the entire world is pretty much in some kind of stay at home order and going outside means risking your health with Covid-19. Staying at home and not being physically active can be just as bad for your health in the long run.

We are designed to move and being locked down in your home makes it very difficult to get the amount of movement we would normally get if we were not dealing with this situation. I typically get around 10,000 steps a day which is what the general recommendation is. But since I have been only leaving my home once every week for the last 4 weeks, my daily step count is around 600 steps. Even if you are not a sedentary person, being locked in will make you sedentary. Like in all things in life we don’t realize how important it is until we lose it. And something as simple as just getting in the daily steps can dramatically improve your health. But because the changes are so subtle, we tend to take non exercise physical activity for granted.

I wanted to take the time to give some strategies to help you remain active without walking if you do not want to leave your home. One exercise that we all know, and I make all my clients do are squats. I recommend the exercise sit to stand. It’s exactly what it sounds like, you sit in a chair and you stand up. Why do I recommend this? Because our legs are our foundation, and if our legs are weak you will likely not enjoy life very much. It’s not a very glamorous exercise, its basic and it works and that’s why it’s a foundational movement that must be mastered and done for life.  The sit to stand is an exercise anyone can do, you do not need to have great squatting technique or be coached. You can have limitations in your range of motion in your lower extremities and still be able to do it. If you can sit in a chair and stand up. You can do this exercise.

Some of you must be thinking, sitting in a chair and standing up? That is way too easy! Yes for some of you it will be too easy, but I want to focus on the easiest and safest leg exercise I know and from there you can increase the difficulty. This is especially important to note for our seniors. If you’re a senior I beg you to start working on your leg strength, it is your foundation and if you don’t have it, you have nothing.  Starting with this basic exercise will build the foundation to more advanced exercises and improve the quality of your life.

All you need is a sturdy chair with four legs and NO wheels on it. Take the chair and lean it up against the wall for support. If that is not available a sofa will work.
What you will do next is keep your feet hip width apart or a bit wider. Whatever is more comfortable for you, and your toes can be pointed out slightly. From here stick your chest out and slowly squat down and stick your butt out and lower yourself onto the chair. Stand back up. That is one repetition.

I always recommend doing less than doing more especially if you’re new to exercise. Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same can be said about the adaptations with exercise and our bodies. Especially if you’re older DO NOT RUSH any exercise. We develop naturally at our own pace. Can you imagine if you tried to rush baking a cake? Take your time exercise is something that should be done for life
Cross your arms in front of your chest. Or you can use your hands to help you stand up but try not to make a habit of it.
Make sure you keep your back straight and sit completely down.

So the question now is how do I progress this? If sitting up and down on a chair is way to easy for you and you can do it 20 times with little effort you might want to consider adding some weights, increasing the range of motion so you squat lower, doing more repetitions, honestly the amount of ways to increase difficulty is endless.
Try starting out with 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 10 body weight squats depending on your fitness level. And slowly progress yourself over time with weights or increasing the range of motion and changing the amount of time you rest between sets.

I hope this helps with getting some physical activity during the day. Please remember keeping your health and fitness is of utmost importance now and there is extremely strong evidence that exercise does keep you and your immune system healthy.
I kindly ask If you can share this post with your friends and family during this time. It will help people out tremendously.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and please be safe and healthy. Please subscribe to my blog for updates.
In Strength,

Charles Trinh MS, PES, CSCS, LMT