By Adam Carter, UAMS Fitness Center Manager
We often take the opportunity to go to the gym for granted. Are you missing this aspect of life? I know I am. With a little thought, maintaining an active life can remain a constant as we juggle schedules around the challenges of life, jobs, family, and illness. All these life events are considered temporary under normal circumstances. These are not normal times. When life is beyond control, it forces us to redefine normal. Things that were once routine now become difficult to accomplish.
It is important to maintain as much consistency and routine as possible. With a little thought and planning, exercise can be one of the most important foundations in creating some sense of normalcy. Before deciding what exercise will be done to, we must first address the new obstacles that will arise from new life circumstances: setting a new routine, communicating with others, the need to include others, and finding new ways to stay active.
Has the routine of life gone completely out the window? Mine certainly has. The first step for staying consistent without the gym comes down to a little planning and time management. Look back over how your life may have changed recently and analyze it, day-by-day and hour-by-hour. Write it out on a calendar or in a day planner. The exact days of the week or time of day may not be the same as it was previously. However, the same 24 hours are still there. Find that 30-60 minutes on most days of the week. Be open to that being different days and at different times than when you exercised before.
Once the time has been found, openly communicate with whoever may be directly affected by this need to make changes to your schedule. Most importantly, this includes anyone living in the same home as you — significant other and children included. Clearly communicating the desire for time to exercise, and most importantly, being willing to grant time for others, will reduce the creation of additional stress. Exercise should reduce stress, not add to it. Clearly communicate to avoid generating resentment.
If you happen to be a parent, like me, this prolonged period with kids at home is bound to make you bonkers at some point. Yes, bonkers is the correct scientific term. Children are joyful, little bundles of unending … energy — let’s go with energy. One necessary accommodation to staying active may mean compromising some exercise time and combining it with family time. As spring begins, it is a great time to be outside. Now is the time to go on family bike rides or a hike. Or, perhaps like my boys, baseball season has been postponed. Get outside and play catch or work on other sports skills relative to your child’s interest.
With the lack of access to gyms, it is a great time to learn a new activity that the family can enjoy together. I was in my early 30s the first time I picked up a tennis racket. Tennis is not, and never will be, my thing. But, my 5-year-old son wanted to play. Now a few years later, I am still terrible at tennis. But it did give our family something to do the other day that got us all moving and out of the house. There are several parks with tennis courts around Little Rock. In the current new normal of life, more of being together is going to be a reality for a while, so stay active and have fun. The family that plays together stays together.
The person that plans creates consistency, with or without the gym.