How to stay fit while practicing social distancing

Cross-country freshman Jared Lautenslager goes for an evening run on Oct. 5 2018 at River Legacy Parks. Running is one of the ways people can stay fit while practicing social distancing. 

When advertising senior Braidon Clemence went on a skiing trip to Colorado over spring break, he didn’t know his daily routines would be rearranged when he returned to Arlington.

On Wednesday, Tarrant County ordered many businesses and gyms in the area to close down due to the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Greg Abbott later issued an executive order making the closures mandatory across the state. Clemence, a member of UTA’s Powerlifting Club, said closing gyms had a major effect on how he goes about his day.

“It’s like if one day someone walked up to you, and they’re like, ‘Hey, you’re not gonna brush your teeth anymore,’” Clemence said. “It’s a part of your daily routine, but I guess not anymore.”

Mechanical engineering senior Tyler Forde said although gyms and public areas are closing, now might be a good time to get your fitness game going. One way that can be achieved is through running, which can be done solo or in small groups.

“Use this time to push yourself and get out of your comfort zone,” he said. “You’re just gonna be staying in the house chilling out anyway, so you might as well get a little sore from it.”

Alumnus Michael Guerrero, a former UTA track athlete, has been an avid runner for years and still runs today. Since graduating, he has balanced both running and weight exercises to maintain his fitness levels.

Like many around the country, Clemence, Guerrero and Forde are turning to alternative options to be active while practicing social distancing and staying at home. Here are some ways to stay healthy while gyms are temporarily closed.

Take an easy jog around the block or go on a nature run.

A former UTA track athlete, Forde said he typically runs anywhere from 40 to 55 miles in a week, but you don’t have to go nearly as much. For beginners, Forde suggests taking it slow and easing into the exercise. If you’re a casual runner, you can use the time to push yourself a little more to keep improving.

Forde recommends jogging around the city block near home to ease into running. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can jog around at parks or through trails, which are still open to the public and generally safe to visit in small groups.

If you’re in the Arlington area, River Legacy Park is a sweet spot for running, with about 20 miles of both paved and forest trails winding through the park, including a mountain bike trail. Forde said he likes to run at Trinity Park in Fort Worth.

Eat meals, not snacks and wake up at a regular time when you are stuck at home.

Planning for meals is a healthier option than eating snacks all day, which people might tend to do if they are practicing social distancing. Waking up at a set time every day also allows people to properly plan what they will consume instead of missing out on certain meals.

“It’s easy to just eat snacks and not even remember when dinner was,” Clemence said. “If you wake up at noon every day, then you’re already into lunch, and you’re probably not gonna eat the moment you wake up. You might wait for a while. Eat meals more than snacks.”

Keep a glass of water nearby.

Drinking water and staying hydrated is important at a time when people won’t have access to regular exercise facilities. Clemence said at times, people tend to forget to drink water when they aren’t stepping outside of their homes.

“In a very sedentary way of living, it’s easy to not drink anything,” Clemence said.

Find at home exercises that best fit your needs.

Guerrero said running is a good way to destress. Although his running routine wasn’t impacted much, his gym sessions were cut off, and he had to improvise at home. During his collegiate days, he focused more on running than on weights, but since graduating, he’s added a heavier emphasis on pumping iron.

Since most weight rooms and gyms have closed to the public, Guerrero said he keeps himself occupied with some dumbbells and by doing things as simple as push ups, pull ups, lunges and a variety of squat workouts.

“It’s a little more difficult since the weight is not as heavy, so I have to do a lot of repetitions,” he said.

Don’t make excuses because the gym is closed.

There are plenty of exercises one can do at home now that exercise facilities have shut down for the time being. Investing in items like an exercise ball can help everyone stay active during this time.

“You can still go for a jog, you can still do push ups on your bedroom floor,” Clemence said. “The biggest thing that I’m worried about is that people are gonna make it more of an excuse to be like, ‘Oh, well I was going to work out, but now I don’t have a gym.’”

@_julio_vega and @c_amaya7

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