SALT LAKE CITY — Many have taken advantage of the extra time and flexibility at home to work out more often. But for those who found themselves chilling on the couch during isolation instead, this could be the perfect time, with businesses reopening and warmer weather, to reboot their health goals.
COVID-19 hasn’t slowed down 78-year-old Linda Schumacher.
“We continued on. I didn’t miss a beat!” she said! When the gym closed, Schumacher brought her workouts home. Her personal trainer came to her house to guide her through her normal exercises.
“I didn’t want to miss out!” she said. “I’m not a sitter anyway, and that would have killed me right there!”
Now Linda is back to her gym, X365 in Sugarhouse, six times a week for a mix of cardio classes and personalized strength exercises with her trainer, Brent Howell.
But Shumacher tells those who haven’t kept up with her active pace during isolation to not worry. She says she hasn’t always been as active herself, but says it starts with one simple goal.
“For so many years, I had osteoporosis,” she explained. Schumacher said she tried everything, including shots, to no avail.
“I just figured I was gonna live with it or break a bone or fall or do something,” she said.
But 2½ years ago she decided to make a big change. That’s when she began working out more regularly. She told Howell she wanted the body of a 40-year-old!
At first she was intimidated by some of the machines in the gym. “I said to Brent, ‘I’m not doing that! No, no, no, no, no, I’m too old to do that!” she recalled.
But eventually she committed. “We started in a chair. Anybody can start in a chair!” she said.
She began using three-pound weights. “And I thought that was a lot!” she said with a laugh. Today her bone density has improved and she looks forward to furthered progress at her next checkup.
“Oh my gosh! The things I can do now? Yes, very, very strong!” she said with enthusiasm. She can now lift 10-pound dumbbells and can even squat up to 80 pounds on a machine.
Intermountain Heatlhcare’s Elisa Soulier, interim executive director for the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness at Intermountain Healthcare, tells people who haven’t been as vigilant as they would have recently liked, to first show themselves some compassion and kindness.
“We’ve had our lives upended,” she said. “At this point in time, it’s very understandable.” Soulier said it’s normal to opt for comfort foods or TV shows when people are stuck at home.
But Soulier says now is a perfect time to reboot your health goals as businesses are also reopening and as the weather begins to get warmer, all while maintaining social distancing and proper health guidelines.
She said it’s important to look at self-care holistically. She reminds people to prioritize their physical wellbeing by exercising and eating healthy, but to also care for their mental health through mindfulness practices or meditation.
Soulier says everyone can change their habits, and it starts with people first recognizing their abilities.
“Really be thoughtful about the things you actually like to do,” she said, adding that the program someone chooses doesn’t need to look like their neighbor’s.
She says it’s important to find something that matches your own personal lifestyle. “Thankfully, the weather’s gotten warmer, we’re able to go outside if you like hiking,” she suggested.
Then she tells people to make a plan and start with small changes. “Maybe start a stretching routine, increase your flexibility. Am I doing any strength training?” she explained.
For those just starting out, Soulier tells people to start minimally to prevent any sort of injuries.
She says now is the time to stay healthy, especially with the onset of COVID-19. “We don’t know; the future is still uncertain without a vaccine,” she said.
While eating healthy and working out consistently might not entirely prevent someone from getting the virus, she says it’s worth it for someone to be in their best shape possible for possible future surges of the virus.
“Your own personal health and wellness is worth future-proofing,” Soulier added.
Soulier says staying active also helps prevent chronic illness down the road such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, severe obesity and strokes. She tells people to look at themselves beyond COVID-19. She said a lot of those chronic diseases can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle interventions.
Plus, Soulier says exercising releases “feel-good endorphins,” giving someone a well-needed boost during unusual times. Schumacher found that was the case for herself.
“Your body begins to feel better. You can do more. You’re gonna want more,” she said. Schumacher tells people to join a gym or just start moving. “Get out and do something. Just don’t sit!” she said.
Howell said he’s proud of the incredible progress she has made. “She’s amazing, she’s my inspiration!” he said.
For those looking for ways to get started, join Intermountain Healthcare’s LiVe Well classes virtually or in person, or check out their ‘Healthy At Home’ page for ideas on how to stay active at home.