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A natural return to regular physical activity after lockdown

As in many parts of the world it will be possible to leave the house and start running or training again, the time has come to return to more frequent outdoor physical activities with caution.

Those who could, continued to train at home with home-fitness and tools, perhaps supported by training programs available on social media or with dedicated online sessions.

The nicer season is making people want to return to train and everyone feels ready to step up the pace. Furthermore, the fitness centres are also progressing with their reopening: you will be able to train in the ‘new’ normal way, always paying attention to hygiene and maintaining the correct distance. Soon you will finally be able to return to training on the gym floor of our club.

However, the increased sedentariness, as well as some weight being gained, might have made our body less efficient so it is good to follow some advice for a gradual return to the levels of two months ago.

How to start training safely again

The Italian Medical Sports Federation has drawn up a vade mecum of recommendations for all those who want to resume their cardio activity.

Information and advice that can be useful to any sportsman, all over the world, as dictated by the intent to facilitate the recovery by avoiding injuries or excesses. Just like as if physical activity were a drug, the recommendations are about the intensity, frequency, volume and mode of physical activity.

Many institutions in the world of fitness and wellness have intercepted the need for information on the subject and, as a preventive measure, have drawn up a vade mecum of recommendations for athletes to follow in terms of intensity, frequency, volume and mode. Just as if physical activity was a medicine and it was necessary to follow the advice of correct administration to avoid unwanted surprises.

The premise is that already after 2-4 weeks of sedentariness, both the aerobic capacity and the muscular consistency are showing drops in performance due to detraining. It is therefore a good idea for professional athletes, amateur sportspeople and those who have a physically demanding work to resume their activities and stop the effects of detraining.

The keyword is prudence, both to avoid situations of early fatigue due to reduced aerobic activity and to avoid the risk of injury, always lurking if the muscles are used incorrectly.

Overcome detraining with physical reconditioning

The "physical reconditioning" can be interpreted as a sustainable and virtuous routine, which involves a varied training program consisting of postural exercises, stretching, core-stability and balance.

Once these basic objectives have been achieved, it is recommended to introduce exercises to increase muscle tone and flexibility and, at the same time, set up a program of endurance activities to improve aerobic capacity. Not everything must be done at the same time. On the contrary, in this phase of soft return to physical activity, the best frequency may be to alternate the days of training with days of rest.

Alternatively, the volume of physical activity practised can be increased by a few minutes each day. Specific movements of any sports activities need to be introduced in a gradual manner. Various studies showed negative effects on health if you exceed the threshold of 6-8 hours per day of total time in a sitting position.

The recommendation is 30-45 minutes of exercise per day to get to 150-300 minutes per week.

In terms of quantity, until it is possible to resume regular physical activity outdoors and/or in the gym, the recommendation is to do 30-45 minutes. Beware that the pace can’t be the same for everyone: age and individual physical conditions are obviously the first elements to be taken into account, without neglecting the climatic conditions in which physical activity takes place. In general, however, an activity with moderate intensity for most of the week is OK and also green light to some single sessions with higher intensity.

In this regard, the Italian Medical Sports Federation specifies that under current isolation conditions it may be difficult to perform vigorous intensity exercises and physical deconditioning may expose to risks, including the reduction of the immune system's response to infection. The ideal choice should therefore be to perform activities of moderate intensity, with heart rate around 60-70% of the maximum theoretical heart rate (generally calculated with the formula: FCmax = 208 - 0.7 X age). If you cannot monitor your heart rate during exercise, you can rely on your perceived level of fatigue, trying to manage the intensity between light and moderately intense (i.e. I can sense the demanding effort, but I am able to talk while exercising).

Indoor and outdoor training modes

A final topic concerns the way in which indoor and outdoor physical activity takes place. For optimal training, there is a quota for muscle toning and an aerobic quota. In both cases, it is essential to dedicate 5 minutes to stretching before starting and 5 minutes at the end to relax and stretch your muscles. To maintain muscle tone, you can vary the exercises using tools such as small weights and/or elastics. If they are not available, you can do free-body exercises (such as bending and flexing) or replace the weights with everyday objects (e.g. water bottles or books).

For aerobic activities, you can use home fitness equipment (indoor bike, treadmill or rower) or, alternatively, march on site, use jump rope or climb and descend stairs. Always remember with a view to gradualness, to alternate the exercises with rest phases that can be reduced in duration as the performance improves.

Top equipment and training tracking with mywellness

Home workouts can be very effective and, if done well, can help most people achieve their fitness goals. So many people at home with so much free time led to them training with exercises and good routines, often through sessions run by coaches and professional trainers. Whilst gyms and fitness centres will reopen in the coming weeks and months, it is important to continue good habits when we begin to return to work and have less free time to do so. It is essential to encourage people to improve their good time management and good planning to continue to train.

In conclusion, many people will try to get back in shape and get back on track with their fitness goals as quickly as possible. For a workout in total autonomy or with the help of your personal trainer, the mywellness app keeps us on the right path. It tracks results of every activity performed and records how much movement we do every day. The data stored in the cloud can be analysed for training at the right intensity during this restart phase. The mywellness app can also be a great tool to use for training at home as you can choose from an extensive library of workouts for all levels.

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