Getting back into shape in a post-pandemic world



Author: Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, FACSM

Yes, I know we still face a life-changing pandemic around the world and especially in most parts of the United States, but it’s always worth thinking about what will follow. Despite our discussion last month on trends in non-gym fitness (focused on a item in time [1]), it is more than likely that many of us have experienced a change (most often a decrease) in our daily physical activities and, subsequently, in our aerobic and muscle fitness levels.

A recent study in Washington State (the first state to be affected by the reduction in daily activities) showed that strategies to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic may have an impact on physical activity and Mental health, people who experience decreased physical activity also have higher levels of stress and anxiety (2). While some of us may have become more active by working from home or having altered daily lives, the rest of us have had to cut back on our activities, if not our workouts in public spaces like gyms and gyms. swimming pools, at least our daily movements. When confined to our home to work and learn, the lack of a daily commute to work or school can take away many daily steps that people would otherwise take, and mental stress and anxiety can bring on people to engage in other less healthy behaviors like stress eating.

Previous research has shown greater strength gains and improvements in blood sugar through resistance training using harder weights or resistance than most people have access to at home, and regular participation is enhanced. through supervision during training sessions and / or through social support from group exercises (2,3) What does this say about the future of working from home, rarely if ever supervised and often alone ? It might be hard to predict, but there’s no denying that doing any activity is better than none at all. Nonetheless, it is quite likely that we will have lost some aerobic capacity and muscle strength by the time we are able to resume our pre-pandemic activities.

So what can we do to prepare for our full re-entry into the fitness world once it is finally considered safe to resume our pre-pandemic lifestyles? The best way to be prepared is to stay as active as possible by doing whatever you can at home or in other safe places now. This includes participating in virtual fitness classes, dusting off and using any exercise equipment you have at home, exercising using your body weight as resistance, and frequently breaking your sedentary time, no matter what. either where you work or learn.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind:

  • Make time each day to be active, even if you only get up during meetings instead of sitting or doing easy exercises by your desk.
  • Do more spontaneous activities, including getting up to break up sitting time for a few minutes every 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Use whatever equipment or household items you have access to to add some resistance training to your day (aim for two to three days a week).
  • Use the latest technology or some other tracking device to make sure you are doing minimal activity each day (set daily and weekly goals for yourself).
  • Start slow and build up slowly over time once you can get back to doing more and more difficult activities, as your top priority should be getting in shape without hurting yourself.

Remember, when you start over, the same principles apply as when you first started getting in good physical shape. Avoid pitfalls that can lead to injury and demotivation, such as starting over at too high an intensity. Hopefully, if nothing else, this pandemic will have made people get more creative with their workouts and help everyone find ways to fit more activity into their daily lives, during and after we have. went through this difficult period.

The references:

  1. Time magazine, July 15, 2020:
  2. Duncan GE, Avery AR, Seto E, Tsang S. Perceived Change in Physical Activity Levels and Mental Health During COVID-19: Findings Among Adult Twin Pairs. PLoS A. 2020; 15 (8): e0237695. Posted August 13, 2020. doi: 10.1371 / journal.pone.0237695
  3. Dunstan DW, Daly RM, Owen N, et al. High-intensity resistance training improves blood sugar control in elderly patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetic treatments. 2002; 25 (10): 1729-1736. doi: 10.2337 / diacare.25.10.1729
  4. Dunstan DW, Daly RM, Owen N, et al. Resistance training at home is not sufficient to maintain better blood sugar control after supervised training in older people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetic treatments. 2005; 28 (1): 3-9. doi: 10.2337 / diacare.28.1.3
  5. Dempsey PC, Larsen RN, Sethi P, et al. Benefits for Type 2 Diabetes of Interrupting Prolonged Sitting With Brief periods of light walking or simple resistance activities. Diabetic treatments. 2016; 39 (6): 964-972. doi: 10.2337 / dc15-2336

Sheri R. Colberg, PhD, is the author of An Athlete’s Guide to Diabetes: Expert Advice on 165 Sports and Activities (the latest edition of Diabetic Athlete’s Manual). She is also the author of Diabetes and fitness for dummies, co-edited by Wiley and the ADA. Emeritus Professor of Exercise Science at Old Dominion University and internationally recognized expert in the diabetes movement, she has authored 12 books, 30 book chapters and over 420 articles. She received the 2016 American Diabetes Association Outstanding Educator in Diabetes Award. Contact her through her websites ( and

Learn more about Dr. Colberg, including fitness strategies for the pandemic.



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