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Staying Active While Still Staying Safe

By Brad Hauber on 
Posted on June 19, 2020

Staying Active While Still Staying Safe

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Friedhoff, please contact 216-676-1234. If you are experiencing back, neck or joint related issues, the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center can help. We are offering same day appointments today at: 216-861-6200, option 5. Your health is our priority.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made remaining fit and active a major challenge for many.

Even as gyms and fitness centers reopen in Ohio, you might not feel comfortable exercising inside around other people. It can be easy to lose motivation and stay within the confines of home.

Cardiovascular conditioning, muscle strength and flexibility all start to decline when physical activity stops. For someone with spine and orthopedic-related health issues, physical activity is especially important because it helps keep joints lubricated, mobile and strong to help relieve pain. It also can also help decrease stress levels and ward off depression. Therefore, it is important to find alternatives to the gym to maintain your overall health during this pandemic.

Dr. George Friedhoff, sports medicine specialist at St. Vincent Charity’s Spine and Orthopedic Institute, says the key for those who may have been inactive the last 6 to 8 weeks during quarantine is to remember to take it slow. 

“By jumping right back into the same level of activity as before, you risk injury or aggravating an old injury,” Dr. Friedhoff said. “I recommend a slow increase in activity each week to allow the body to adjust. It is also helpful to take a day to rest or to cross train as you build strength and stamina.”

Dr. Friedhoff recommends to his patients the 10 percent rule, which allows for a gradual increase in activity by no more than 10 percent each week. This includes the distance walked or the amount of weight lifted. Those just beginning an exercise routine may want to consider an even slower increase, such as 5 percent a week, to prevent injury. It is important to listen to your own body as you return to your routine.

And remember, always warm up and stretch before activity. Stay well hydrated, wear the right footwear and use proper protective equipment when applicable.

The CDC recommends adults participate in at least 150 minutes a week of cumulative, moderate or vigorous physical activity, which can be spread throughout the day and week. The CDC also recommends muscle strengthening exercises two or more times per week.

Despite the current pandemic, there are still a number of activities you can do while protecting yourself from COVID-19. As summer approaches with warmer weather, it’s easier to get outside while still maintaining a safe distance from others. There are also a number of fairly simple exercises you can do at home, including:

  • Outdoor activities such as running, cycling and brisk walks for cardiovascular fitness;
  • Home strength workouts, calisthenics, free weights and exercise bands help maintain muscular strength;
    A stability ball improves core strength and endurance;
  • Stretching should be done daily before and after exercise to avoid muscle strain and injury;
  • Yoga is good for exercise, enhanced flexibility and stress management, as well as relief of bone, joint and muscle-related pain. One caveat: take caution and perform the exercises in moderation, according to your individual flexibility level. Muscle damage and related injuries can result if proper precautions are not taken, especially for people with pre-existing musculoskeletal ailments or conditions. Know your limits and don’t try positions beyond your experience or comfort level. If you are unsure about your ability to do yoga, speak to your orthopedic doctor.

Even if you feel uncomfortable returning to the gym or group exercise classes, it is important during this time to stay active for both your physical and mental health. In addition to the suggestions above, there are many online exercise programs and fitness books that provide valuable guidance and routines.


To schedule a consultation with Dr. Friedhoff, please contact 216-676-1234. If you are experiencing back, neck or joint related issues, the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center can help. We are offering same day appointments today at: 216-861-6200, option 5. Your health is our priority.

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Friedhoff, please contact 216-676-1234. If you are experiencing back, neck or joint related issues, the Spine and Orthopedic Institute at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center can help. We are offering same day appointments today at: 216-861-6200, option 5. Your health is our priority.

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