Whether you’re a seasoned competitive athlete looking to optimize your performance, an active individual searching for more information to better your movement practice, or an individual looking to jumpstart your personal fitness journey, I’m grateful for the opportunity to add value to your life through this medium. My name is Nati Schnitman. I’m a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), soccer coach, former division 1 athlete, and physical therapy student. With the COVID-19 pandemic currently altering our daily lives as we know it, my intention in beginning this blog is to share research-based content that would help reduce stress levels and break down the world of fitness and exercise into more digestible pieces. There is A LOT of information out there on the internet and social media regarding exercise (some good, some not so good), and I can imagine trying to comb through such massive amounts of content can feel overwhelming. As if we’re not already overwhelmed as it is.
In my opinion, exercise doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. My goal is to shift the lens of those who view fitness as overly complex, unenjoyable, and a waste of time to something that is productive for your health, obtainable, and maybe even enjoyable. Because regardless of your age, training background, or access to equipment, exercise is exactly that. While exercise is not easy, I do believe simplifying the components of exercise can make our general perspective of it less scary. Not every workout you do needs to leave you gasping for air on the floor in a pool of sweat, and not every workout you do needs to last 90 minutes to 2 hours to be considered worthwhile.
Once our general perspective towards fitness can change, hopefully we can move the needle towards living in a society that takes pride in maintaining a solid foundation of physical, mental, and emotional health. Eventually, I would love for the majority of our population to want to exercise, understand the benefits of a movement practice, and feel comfortable being able to own their movement practice independently.
With the coronavirus rightfully stealing much of our attention, there is no doubt that we are currently living in an incredibly unique and unsettling time. I think now, more than ever, is a good time to remind ourselves that we need to control what we can control. Research continues to show how exercise is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, protect our immune system, improve mental well-being, relieve stress and increase our longevity on this earth.1,2 If I’m being transparent, when I exercise now, I don’t necessarily think too much about the short-term effects of my routine. While improving muscle mass, working towards a low body fat count, and maintaining physical fitness are important goals for me personally, I exercise because I know my future children will benefit from what I do with my movement practice. The more I exercise in a safe and smart manner, the higher chance I have of spending more time on this earth doing what I love, serving others, and being with my family as I age. There are certain things in this life I can’t control, such as a global pandemic that flips my entire schedule upside down, and there are things I can control. I’m fortunate to say that my movement practice is one of those things that I definitely can control. My hope is that soon you feel the same.
So where do we start? You guessed it. Bedrock.
Instead of offering a handful of at-home quarantine exercises that you may or may not be able to successfully perform this coming week (and I will offer you some helpful workouts and exercise tips in future posts), I decided I wanted to start on an even more fundamental, basic approach. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), current fitness guidelines for cardiovascular health recommend 150 minutes or more of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes or more of vigorous intensity exercise per week.2 While this may seem like a lot, we can take something as simple as a brisk walk (yes, that counts as exercise) and apply it to these guidelines as a starting point for moderate intensity. If you do not currently own a movement practice, or you’re struggling to find ways to exercise amidst your busy schedule, this could be a phenomenal starting place for you. Everyone’s movement practice is different, and that’s okay.
If you or a loved one is unable to walk due to a disability, completing 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week is still recommended by the US Department of Health and Human Services.3 Depending on your impairments, you may need to consult your health care provider to discuss avenues of physical activity that are safe and appropriate for you.
If we take these cardiovascular guidelines into account, we could perform 30 minutes of walking for 5 days per week and meet that 150 minute recommendation. Don’t have time to walk for 30 minutes in one sitting? You could do a brisk 15 minute walk in the morning and another brisk 15 minute walk in the evening. That total of 150 minutes of exercise per week is the goal, but you can control how to achieve those 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise based on your own schedule. Keep in mind, that 30 minute walk you take today may also be a nice excuse to get out of your house after self-isolating on Zoom calls in your pajamas all day.
Seems a little less daunting, right? Just remember, your workout routine doesn’t need to be a burden on your schedule. Keeping it simple may be the key to unlocking your fitness potential and taking control of your physical well-being.
- “Physical Activity-Related Health Benefits for the General Population and Selected Populations.” February 2018. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Part D: Integrating the Evidence. https://health.gov/paguidelines/second-edition/ report.aspx
- American College of Sports Medicine Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. 2018. “Aerobic Exercise Volume Recommendations.” 10th edition, pp 160.
- “Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults with Disabilities.” 2020. National Center on Physical Activity and Disability. https://www.nchpad.org/618/2576/Physical~Activity~Guidelines~for~~Adults~with~Disabilities