Monday, November 24, 2014
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Weathering disruptions to your exercise routine

If you're facing a situation where power outages have closed your gym and weather conditions have made being outdoors unbearable, how can you go about maintaining an exercise routine?

Weathering disruptions to your exercise routine

Jog in place. Run the steps at your house. Skip rope. Remember, they’re called ‘inconveniences’ and ‘disruptions for a reason—it’s not supposed to be easy. But it’s only temporary, so it’s worth working a little harder to stay in a routine. (AP Photo)
Jog in place. Run the steps at your house. Skip rope. Remember, they’re called ‘inconveniences’ and ‘disruptions for a reason—it’s not supposed to be easy. But it’s only temporary, so it’s worth working a little harder to stay in a routine. (AP Photo)

It’s safe to say Hurricane Sandy has thrown a wrench into at least the next week for the Philadelphia region—whether you’re dealing with storm cleanup, property losses or other disruptions.

Sometimes those disruptions can be of a simpler nature, but no less annoying. For example, if you’re facing a situation where power outages have closed your gym and weather conditions have made being outdoors unbearable, how can you go about maintaining an exercise routine?

Michael Ciccotti, M.D., director of the sports medicine team at the Rothman Institute, spoke with Sports Doc on that topic. Dr. Ciccotti spent several years as orthopaedic medical director for the Philadelphia Marathon, and recognizes that this is prime time for race preparations for the area’s prospective race participants.

“It’s natural for runners to want to be outdoors, putting in long miles on something course-like,” acknowledged Dr. Ciccotti, himself an avid runner. “But in conditions like this? It’s just too dangerous.”

The risk of a slip-and-fall injury—or worse—far outweighs the benefits of a few days’ preparation out on the road. Instead, Dr. Ciccotti recommends indoor cross-training.

“A treadmill is ideal, as it can best simulate running,” he said, “but a stationary bike or an elliptical machine will suffice as well.”

But with a storm of this magnitude, power may be lost in your house as well, compromising several pieces of modern in-home exercise equipment. What’s a runner in the midst of preparation to do, faced with no electricity to power workout machine and precious few daylights hours?

“You have to make the most of what you have—it’s not an easy situation,” conceded Dr. Ciccotti, “But there are ways to maintain an aerobic routine.”

A couple of suggestions:

  • Yoga/Pilates: Yoga improves strength, flexibility and balance—all crucial components of running. Soreness, tight muscles and even chronic pain can be eased by practicing yoga. Similarly, Pilates serves to strengthen and stabilize individual muscle groups. Yoga and Pilates are all the rage right now, so even a novice can navigate a few beginner-level exercises until he or she is able to resume a typical exercise routine.
  • Hit the Heavy Bag: You can experience aerobic benefits with as little as 10-15 minutes of an intense heavy bag workout. Heavy bags are a form of resistance, so strength training and increased power are yet another benefit of choosing this course.
  • Back to Basics: Jog in place. Run the steps at your house. Skip rope. Remember, they’re called 'inconveniences' and 'disruptions' for a reason—it’s not supposed to be easy. But it’s only temporary, so it’s worth working a little harder to stay in a routine—especially if you’re rapidly approaching a big event or competition.

“Most serious runners are training, at the very least, for 4-6 weeks before a marathon,” concluded Dr. Ciccotti. “At this point, a few days won’t cause you to lose much in terms of preparation, unless you haven’t been preparing all along—in which case you have to question whether you were every going to be truly ready.”

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