Most people are excited about returning to the gym, but not me. I never stopped exercising. I’m going on three months of home workouts.
In mid-March, I had decided to work out from home long before my governor issued stay-at-home orders. I didn’t want to expose myself to the children and teens who would be infiltrating the “dojang,” a Korean martial arts school, during spring break.
I could have taken a week off from exercising, but I knew if I did, I would work straight through the day without taking a break from my remote job. Also, I had to lose weight to ward off what my hepatologist feared was the onset of fatty liver disease.
Transitioning to a home workout wasn’t difficult. In the past, I preferred to exercise at home rather than join a gym, especially when my Crohn’s was severe. All I need are a goal, a schedule, a routine, and space.
Tip #1: Set a goal
As I mentioned, my primary goal is to lose weight. According to John Hopkins Medicine, a 10% loss of weight can decrease liver enzyme numbers and the inflammation associated with fatty liver disease. For me, that meant losing 10 to 15 pounds, which was the amount of weight I had gained when my hepatologist noticed my liver enzymes rising. To date, I’ve lost 13 pounds.
Another goal I’ve set is the number of steps I take while exercising. I aim for 4,000 to 5,000 steps during my workout. If I don’t reach the minimum, I’ll cool down longer and walk until I meet my target.
In addition to physical goals, I’ve set mental objectives. An important component of martial arts is forms. Forms are choreographed moves that simulate fighting. As a black belt, I not only continue to learn new forms on the right side (offense), but I also have to learn those same forms on the left side (defense).
Without having a senior belt to guide me, I’ve had to rely on mental agility to remember the steps. After weeks of practice, I’m able to do my highest forms on both sides smoothly without pause.
Tip #2: Stick to a schedule
I’m a planner, so I live by a schedule. I plan my day around my daily workout, not the other way around. That way, I can’t use lack of time as an excuse not to exercise.
I start exercising at 11 a.m., which is my usual class time. However, I have made a few adjustments. Because I don’t have to drive to the dojang, I’m able to exercise until 12:30 p.m., adding an extra 10 to 15 minutes of training. I’ve also started working out on Thursdays since I can no longer go grocery shopping or run errands at that time.
After the dojang began offering Zoom classes in April, I modified my schedule again. Now, I exercise with the class from 11 a.m. until noon, Monday through Thursday. After everyone logs off, I continue on my own for another 30 minutes. On Friday, there’s no class, so I use that time to exercise at my own pace and intensity.
Tip #3: Develop a routine
I’m a creature of habit, so I need a routine. Focusing on a body part, exercise type, or skill in a specific order ensures I don’t leave anything out.
Having a routine also helps me pace myself so I can maintain endurance and control my breathing. I start slow with warmup stretches before moving on to cardio. I then focus on strength training to keep up my heart rate before moving into less strenuous activity before cooling down.
Tip #4: Set up a home gym
A home gym doesn’t have to be fancy. Mine consists of a yoga mat and a few free weights. I’ve even substituted water bottles and canned goods for weights when I didn’t have my dumbbells. For martial arts training, I have my various weapons.
In the past, my workout space was the floor at the side or foot of my bed. For martial arts, my living room has become a dojang. I need more space to move around, but I have to be mindful not to run into furniture or break anything or myself when I’m swinging my weapons, kicking, or doing acrobatics.
Staying healthy while staying at home
Being on immunosuppressants like Remicade (infliximab) and tacrolimus, I won’t be returning to in-person workouts as long as the COVID-19 rate continues to climb. Gyms reopened in Texas, where I live, at the beginning of the month, but the dojang remains closed until at least July. Even when it reopens, classes will be hybrid so students can continue to log in virtually.
Until I’m able to return, I’m content exercising with my martial arts family on the other side of the screen.
Note: IBD News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.
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