These days, most of us are spending the majority of our time at home. Even though we’re staying “Safer at Home” to avoid spreading COVID-19, it is still important to stay active and healthy.
But the reality is staying active and eating healthy at home seems deceivingly easier than it actually is. You might be planning to wake up early every morning to do a workout or cook a deliciously nutritious breakfast, but instead you battle the alarm clock or reach for an unhealthy snack.
While the desire to stay fit and healthy may be there, without the right routine and motivation, it’s easy to fall into bad behaviors. We know you may feel stuck at home, but it is the best thing for all of our health and safety while we try to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections.
Because dining at healthy restaurants and visiting the local gym for swimming workouts is not an option in our current situation, we have some tips and tricks for avoiding the traps of unhealthy habits
The doctors of The Kennedy Center at Ascension Mercy Hospital know how difficult it can be for patients to break bad habits and maintain a healthy lifestyle while under quarantine. Read on to learn how to stay home AND stay healthy, helping to keep your joints active and moving, and to help minimize pain.
Develop a daily routine to keep healthy at home
We know. Easier said than done. Developing a routine and sticking to it is a daunting task for many. This can be especially true when you spend a majority of your days at home. However, people who keep a daily routine have improved physical and mental health compared to those that do not maintain a daily routine.
Being purposeful in your day can lead to lower stress levels, better sleep and greater focus. Don’t know where to start? Here’s how to build a daily routine that works for you.
1. List your to dos
What do you want to accomplish on a daily basis? A morning walk? Afternoon stretching? Extended period times of work? Cooking dinner? Whatever you need or want to get done in a day, put it on the list. Be sure to include both personal and work items. This is simply to take stock of all you hope to accomplish to help you keep moving and healthy at home.
2. Prioritize and schedule your to do’s
Now it’s time to take your list of to dos and prioritize and schedule. Think about your energy levels throughout the day. When do you accomplish things most efficiently? Do you do your best work in the morning or evening? When do you prefer working out? When do you need a brain break? Take these factors and write a schedule based on your list of to dos and when you’ll best accomplish them.
3. Put your daily routine into practice
Finally, take your schedule and put your daily routine into practice. You may find as each day passes that your daily routine needs to be adjusted. That’s okay! Tweak your routine as needed and continue to assess how successful you are at maintaining it. If your planned at-home exercise in the morning continues to be a struggle, try finding a different time. Or, consider breaking it into several 10-15 minute increments, versus one long hour. Remember, this is your routine. Do what works for you.
Create a healthy meal plan
As you’re creating your daily routine, don’t forget to think about when and what you’ll be eating! A key factor to staying fit and healthy at home is meal planning. During these stressful times, many social media posts talk about people over-eating and drinking. One study concluded that meal planning is associated with healthier diets and less obesity. Creating a healthy meal plan has many benefits including:
- Saving money
- Saving time
- Helping weight control
- Eating well-balanced and nutritious food
- Reducing stress over meal time
By having a plan, making a healthy meal becomes less work at dinner time. Rather than take-out or spending time worrying about what to make, you have the easy option of grabbing a healthy meal you’ve already planned for. Here’s a 28 day healthy meal plan to get you started on the right track.
Create an at-home workout plan
While a healthy meal plan is a great way to keep you fit and healthy at home, be sure to incorporate exercise as well. It’s recommended that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity in a week with a general goal of 30 minutes in a day. Such exercise includes walking, running, dancing and more. Again, this 30 minutes of daily exercise can be broken up into smaller increments based on your exercise goals.
When you’re stuck at home, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get your workout in. Remember to work it into your daily routine and choose at-home exercises that feel good and are enjoyable to you. Get ideas for your at-home workout plan here.
After you complete your workout, remember not to overdo it! The last thing you want is an injury to prevent you from sticking to your daily exercise. If you do go overboard and experience pain, just remember RICE. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Learn more about the RICE treatment here.
Don’t neglect your mental health
When your days are spent mostly at home, it can take a mental toll. Maybe you’re not able to interact face-to-face with others as often as you’d like. Or perhaps the weather is preventing you from enjoying the outdoors. Lack of social interaction and fresh air can impact your emotional state.
While sticking to your daily routine and maintaining a healthy physical lifestyle through exercise and diet often helps your mental state, sometimes it’s not enough to ease the anxiety.
An easy way to see improvement is incorporating meditation at home. It can be as simple as a one minute breathing exercise or a longer form of mediation. Apps like Headscape, Calm and Insight Timer are also great tools for learning meditation. You might even kill two birds with one stone and try yoga – exercise and meditation complement each other well!
Address the pain
If taking care of your body from home still leads to an increase in joint pain, be sure to give us a call at the Kennedy Center. We are happy to work with you and find the solution that fits your needs.