Australians have been practicing social distancing for over a month now with some people confined to their houses for 2-week periods of isolation. The Government has told the community to stay at home and only go out if it is absolutely essential in order to slow the spread of Coronavirus COVID 19. With disrupted exercise routines many people have been jumping online to download and follow exercise videos. These are often selected at random, with many selecting whatever hits the google search on the first page and with little thought to the appropriateness of the routine to their own personal circumstances.
We know exercise is beneficial to both physical and mental health, so an exercise video at home can be crucial to those self -isolating and confined to home. However, selecting exercise videos randomly can be problematic and lead to injury. This is particularly relevant if you happen to choose a high impact exercise routine. High impact exercise programs can be tempting as you feel like you want to get the most out of the time you invest. However, when the body loads up too quickly, the soft tissues including tendons and muscles experience microdamage which can lead to inflammation and pain. Additionally, joints can experience damage from loading up if the muscles are not able to support them adequately.
You can reduce your risk of injury by taking the time to ask yourself a few simple questions and adhering to some general advice before embarking on a home video exercise program.
Firstly, consider the source:
- Is the person or group posting the program a credible and trusted source? What is their background, and can you trust the material they are presenting to you?
- Do the presenters offer alternative exercises to accommodate people who may have injuries or cannot do the suggested exercise?
Secondly, consider the routine
- Is the workout age appropriate?
- How intense is this exercise video and how long does it go for?
- Are the exercises in the workout high impact or low impact?
- Do the exercises use weights as resistance and if so what weight? Or do the exercises focus on using my own body weight?
These are just a few questions you need to ask to judge the suitability of the program for you.
Here are a few things to bear in mind:
- Consider your current baseline activity levels. Think about how much exercise you have been doing over the past few weeks – not what you were doing 2 or 3 months ago. Deconditioning happens quickly, so your baseline fitness level will be relevant to recent activity levels
- If you have pre-existing joint issues a high impact workout may not be for you. High impact workouts include exercises that have a lot of jumping. Some instructors will give alternative exercises to replace the high impact exercises -but if not – then look for another workout
- Free weights are often used in exercise workouts. Using your own body weight can be just as effective and often safer than free weights. For instance, a push-up (from on the floor or wall or a bench) is a very effective and safe way to improve the strength of your arms and shoulders.
This is different for everyone, but the general rule is making your first few sessions about 70-80% of your maximum capacity.
Once you start:
- Start slowly and increase gradually and incrementally
- Make sure you stretch well before and after the workout
- Have a day of rest between days of increased activity or the program and use the 10% rule- increase load or volume by no more than 10% each week. Add more time to what you are doing, then add more repetitions or heavier loads – not all at once
- If you start to feel some pains or aches, reduce a little and stay on that reduced level until the pain disappears. Try to increase again slowly and systematically
These are just a few things to think through before embarking on a home exercise video. A little thought and a systematic approach to returning to or increasing exercise will help prevent injuries and pain and can help make your exercise experience more enjoyable and more effective.
Hope this helps, Deb