With city facilities closed, residents will need to be resourceful to come up with fitness solutions.
As Seaside residents cope with growing restrictions on activities outside their homes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, taking time to nurture their health and wellness is as critical as ever.
With the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District’s facilities temporarily closed, along with local gyms, yoga and dance studios and fitness centers, “It’s really important for people to do the best they can and find something to tide them over,” said recreation district executive director Skyler Archibald.
For some people, that could mean finding ways to continue their normal fitness routine within the confines of their property; others might have to adapt and discover a new way to move and recreate while abiding by Oregon’s current “stay at home” mandate.
The last couple weeks have been “such a whirlwind,” with circumstances changing daily and “little time to get out of survival mode and focus on personal connection,” said Kristin Kabanuk, of Seaside Yoga. “But as we settle into this new ‘normal’ and start to crave social interaction and engagement again, I think connecting over common interests like dance and fitness and yoga can and will help to alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness,” she said.
Walking, biking and hiking
Currently, walking, biking and hiking are still permissible, as long as participants maintain a distance of 6 feet from others outside their immediate family.
As Archibald mentioned, most North Coast communities have a nice outdoor walking trail, such as the Promenade in Seaside, the Astoria Riverwalk, and the Ridge Path in Gearhart. Going outside to walk or bike for about 20 to 25 minutes per day can help people fulfill the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity per week.
Michelle Brannon, owner of Sunset Family Fitness, suggested adding variations to a walk to challenge muscles and joints “in different ways.” Some ideas include walking up and down stairs, adding in a few repetitions of push-ups on a bench or walking backward or sidestepping for a bit.
While there is no substitute for the pool — one of the most vital facilities provided by the recreation district — Archibald said people can try a couple other low-impact activities, such as canoeing or kayaking.
“There’s always something we can do,” he said, adding however people decide to recreate and workout during the current situation, they must be intentional. “Movement, or physical activity, is really important, and if you don’t schedule it into your day or schedule a time for it to occur, in my experience, it doesn’t occur.”
Another way people can continue to recreate and reach their fitness goals at home is through online classes. According to Kabanuk, before the coronavirus disease began to spread, there was a rising trend in yoga, dance and other fitness videos being produced for online platforms.
“When we were forced to close down these studios and fitness centers, it was a good motivator to ramp up the effort and finally go live so we could stay connected with the communities we have built,” she said.
Many local establishments, including Seaside Yoga and Encore Dance Studio, are creating free pre-recorded and live-streamed content for their community during this time. Brannon also is updating their company Facebook page with blog posts, videos and other online resources, although she cautions people to find a fitness routine that is compatible with their physical ability.
“I’m afraid of someone trying a new workout and hurting themselves,” she said.
For seniors, Brannon recommends finding content on websites such as AceFitness.org, MyFitnessPal.com and SilverSneakers.com, which have certified health and fitness programs geared toward a variety of populations.
Another downside to online classes, Kabanuk said, is “the lack of a connected fitness community, which is what most of us are used to.”
“It can be tough to get excited about exercising by yourself,” she added.
However, families or roommates can gather to watch workout videos online together or go for a walk on the beach.
Holistic health and wellness
Beyond working out, community members may be challenged to nurture their health and wellness in other ways because of the pandemic and “all that comes with it — including some effects on our mental health and the stress we’re all feeling,” Archibald said. The decrease in activity may also negatively impact people’s ability to get quality sleep at night, which has its own set of health ramifications.
“People are going to start feeling that,” Brannon said.
She encouraged people to try sticking to a routine and doing something for at least 10 minutes per day that helps them relieve stress, “even if that’s just taking some time to sit and be quiet and reflect.”
In terms of the community, Kabanuk recommended people also “remind each other regularly that this situation we find ourselves in is temporary.”
“We have a special opportunity here to slow down and focus on ourselves and our families and to fortify our health and strengthen our bodies,” she said. “Human beings are so resilient, and we always find a way to thrive. Sometimes we just need to open up our minds to think, and live, outside the box a little.”