UVM voices offer advice on staying active in isolation

April 24, 2020

Weeks have passed since students skied down the Green Mountains, skateboarded on Athletic campus, walked to class and dominated Burlington’s terrain.

Wherever students find themselves now, we hope they are still finding some enjoyment outdoors.

In celebration of Earth day and all of the great natural resources available here at UVM, the Cynic has dedicated this week Outdoors Week. 

Wanting to empower students to make the most of their outdoor experiences while between doors, some expert and avid active people from the UVM community offered advice. Their hope was to make those sessions, rides, runs and walks more enjoyable and more productive.

Connie Tompkins, associate professor of exercise science 

Professor Connie Tompkins, an associate professor who has taught exercise science at UVM for 10 years, recommends that active people incorporate a dynamic stretching warmup before every workout. 

Static, also known as stationary, stretching should be done two-to-three times per week after five-to-10 minute active cooldowns, she said.

Tompkins believes the benefits of full-body stretching, which she said should be applied to both dynamic and static stretching, 

“Focus on targeting each major muscle-tendon group: shoulders, chest, trunk and back, hips and quadriceps and hamstrings,” Tompkins said.

She said there are plenty of resources for these stretches online.

“Stretch each muscle group for at least 10-30 seconds, but a total of 60 seconds per joint is recommended,” she said.

Tompkins emphasized that the proper “cool-down” can influence many necessary elements of bodily functioning.

Gradually bring down your heart rate and blood pressure,” Tompkins said. “[cooling-down] will also help prevent a build-up of cellular waste products that can cause fatigue and soreness.”

She said if done regularly and properly, stretching and cooling down can help make your workouts more enjoyable and effective.

In addition to proper stretching, Tompkins recommends adults that are cardo-driven should aim to work out for about 30 minutes a day, only five days per week.

“Students and other adults should be participating in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week,” Tompkins said. “Other important factors for a successful recovery include sufficient and proper nutrition, hydration and rest or sleep”

Exercising, stretching and keeping a routine can have well-rounded results, especially in light of COVID-19, she said.

“There are a number of health benefits that are typically associated with physical activity,” Tompkins said. “The positive impact that physical activity can have on mental health is especially important in light of our current situation.”

Matt Belfield, UVM track and field coach

UVM track and field head coach Matt Belfield offered his athletes as examples of how students can find time and space to exercise both while on campus and in light of COVID-19. Belfield highlighted the benefits of working out during times of day that involve less contact with other people.

“We find morning is the best time to exercise, as you’ll have the most amount of space physically to work out, but you’ll also minimize time conflict,” Belfield said.

In addition to advice on scheduling, Belfield, like Tompkins, recommended a comprehensive approach to recovery.

“It’s important to take a holistic approach to see progress,” he said. “Stretch, hydrate, sleep well and be consistent with your workouts”

Belfield emphasized all people who want to be active should be consistent, not only in how often they are active, but how they progress through activity.

“Avoid doing something new too fast, you may end up setting yourself back,” Belfield said.

UVM junior Dan Jordan

Dan Jordan is a junior studying mechanical engineering, and for the past three years, he has closely followed the same advice that both Tompkins and Belfield offer above.

“Taking extra time to warm-up and stretch has definitely been worthwhile for me,” Jordan said. 

Jordan often runs for about 10 minutes, stretches using yoga, works out and then stretches after. 

“I always have my water with me when I wake up, throughout the day and while working out,” Jordan said.

Jordan said he feels it can sometimes be difficult to find time to workout, he said he tries to fit in exercise where he can. He added that he feels more focused in class when he is able to workout a few times throughout the week.

Helpful resources to aid in an active isolation

Below are a few resources for people who are looking to apply some of the information cited in this article, compliments of Jordan, Tompkins and Belfield.

For Fitness (workouts & yoga): Nike Training Club (available for iOS and Android)

https://www.nike.com/ntc-app

For Distance Tracking (compatible with running & biking): Strava (available online and for iOS and Android)

https://www.strava.com

For Nutrition and Hydration: My Plate by Livestrong (available for iOS and Andrioid)

https://www.livestrong.com/myplate/

For Stretching: American College of Sports Medicine

https://www.acsm.org/read-research/resource-library

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