Wellness in Emergency Medicine: Staying Active during COVID-19
Emmy Schram Mar 20, 2020
Photo: Dr. Brenna Monsef, EM physician faculty, with her children Kira and Cameron
Co-authored by Brenna Monsef, MD, and Kasey McKay, MD
With the constant changes and news coming out about COVID-19, it can be difficult to remember the importance of self-care. Especially for health care providers, the focus on treating the rapidly growing patient pool can easily consume our time and our thoughts. The benefits of exercise are well established. Physical activity has benefits for stress reduction as well as treating mental illness, such as depression. It has also been shown that those who engage in regular exercise have improved sleep quality, improved self-esteem, and reduced fatigue. The importance of keeping ourselves healthy to best serve our patients has never been more important than now.
So, with the world on lockdown, that means gyms, fitness classes, and groups are shut down. Even those with a regular exercise routine may find themselves struggling to stay active without their usual resources. What should one do to stay active when social isolation is key? While body weight workouts are incredibly effective, if you want to invest in some equipment, what might you want at home to get a great workout? You don’t need a squat rack or a bunch of fancy, expensive gym equipment that takes up a lot of space to get an effective workout. Some things to consider investing in: dumbbells of different weights, kettlebells, bosu ball, resistance loops, slam ball, weighted body bar or an over the door suspension trainer (think: TRX straps that hang over a door).
While some of you might prefer to create your own workouts, if you’d rather take the mental energy out of it, here is a list of some online workouts to consider checking out. Many of these are free, and many others are rumored to be offering discounted services or lengthened free trial periods. These programs range from low impact yoga to highly active HIIT exercises. Many do not require any home equipment, and program lengths range from as short as 10 minutes to upwards of 60 minutes. All of the following ideas should be considered on an individual basis. Take a personal look at your own health; if you are over the age of 60 or have medical conditions such as COPD, asthma, heart disease, cancer, or are immuno-compromised, you should be the most cautious about your activity in both intensity and also selecting those that you can do in your home in isolation. (Prices were current at the time of writing this. We have no conflicts of interest in providing these resources).'
- Fitness Blender
- Over 500 free workout videos for all fitness levels
- Les Mills
- Les Mills’ popular Bodypump workout is available online along with many other Les Mills programs. The workouts are heavy on cardio (kickboxing, HIIT, dance, agility training) but there is also yoga, barre and a core-focused program. Bodypump requires a barbell and weight plates but don’t let that scare you away if you don’t have a barbell. You can creatively modify workouts using dumbbells or kettlebells. 30 day free trial followed by $14.99/mo, $35.97/3mo, $119.88 annually
- Beachbody on Demand
- From the makers of P90X and Insanity, Beachbody’s streaming workouts have something for everyone. From beginners to advanced fitness fanatics, whether you want resistance training, HIIT, cardio, martial arts inspired workouts or yoga, Beachbody on Demand has it. Some workouts are as short as 20 minutes, others are longer than an hour. Free 2 week trial then $39 every 3 months, or $59 for 6 months, or $99 for 1 year.
- Pure Barre on Demand
- Pure Barre on demand offers workouts as short as 10 minutes to full length workouts over 45 minutes. All you parents undoubtedly have a small kids rubber ball lying around somewhere that you can use for the workouts. You can use lightweight dumbbells, or if you don’t have any, substitute with water bottles or canned food (since we’ve all stocked up on canned goods!). You don’t need a bar-you can use a couch, wall, chair or countertop. 7 day free trial followed by $29.99/mo
- SWEAT app
- This app has programs by several popular Instagram fitness influencers. Several programs are intended to be used in the gym, but the programs by Kelsey Wells and Kayla Itsines are intended for home use. The subscription gives access or meal plans as well. 7 day free trial then $19.99/mo or $119.94 yearly.
- Planet Fitness
- Planet Fitness is offering daily free online workout streams on their Facebook page
- Nike Training Club
- Free app with 180+ free workout videos
Also, some of the large gyms and smaller boutique studios are planning on coming out with online workouts for their members. So, if you have a membership to one, keep an eye out on your email, the gym/studio’s app or Facebook page for workouts that may be released soon.
If you are low risk, are not experiencing any symptoms such as cough, fever, shortness of breath, or otherwise on quarantine, you can still go outside for physical activity. Walking or running outdoors provides essential fresh air and has significant benefits for your wellness. If you choose to walk with a friend, minimize your contacts to those who are known to be healthy and ensure that you walk at a distance of at least several feet from each other. Even short 10 minute walks can provide significant benefits. There are many apps that can enhance your experience.
- Charity Miles
- Tracks your walks/runs and raises money for a charity of your choice
- Map My Walk
- A basic app that helps track your walks and distances
- Weight Loss Running
- Helps you track and plan your workouts, set goals, and provides motivational music mixes
What about all of those little ones who are now stuck indoors? There are many resources online for keeping kids active and moving. Many of these programs are offering free/significantly-discounted services to help with the ongoing lockdown.
- NFL Play 60
- Free app that has physically active games with a football twist
- Little Twisters Yoga
- Offering free products in their online store for digital download
- Fluency and Fitness
- Offering 3 week free trial. In home learning with breaks for short bursts of in home physical activity
We hope that these resources will help you stay physically active and fit during a difficult time. As always, if you are struggling with the daily uncertainty and anxiety of the current times, please reach out to your loved ones or colleagues. Keeping yourself accountable for working out while you’re cooped up at home can be challenging. Consider using a friend to motivate each other and help remind each other to keep moving. Call those you know who are isolated and make a point of contacting those who are most isolated, such as our elderly or ill. Remember to take time for yourself every day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes, to keep your body and mind moving. We owe it to ourselves and everyone around us to keep as active and healthy as possible.
Dr. Brooke Henderson, EM/Peds physician resident
Dr. Kasey McKay, EM physician resident
Dr. Katie Pettit, EM physician faculty, with her children Hannah and Keegan
Dr. Alex Doxey, EM physician resident and his brother