Winter Exercise During a Lockdown

As of this writing, summer has officially ended. Andrew Cuomo has started to lift restrictions and is allowing fitness facilities of all varieties to open with limited programming and capacity. While the majority of these facilities are doing an excellent job of cleaning and disinfecting, there is a good percentage of the fitness population that is still leery of returning to a public exercise facility. For those folks, September is a good time to plan ahead and think about how to maintain your fitness once the weather turns nasty. The word on the street is that the Farmers Almanac is predicting a winter similar to 2014-2015, so buckle up folks.

There are many ways to maintain fitness at home with minimal to no equipment and while maintaining a budget. Many of the same fitness facilities I referred to above are doing online or remote type programming so you can connect with a human face but from the safety and convenience of your home. Some of this programming involves body weight calisthenics, stretching, an exercise ball, light hand weights, or elastic resistance bands.

Maintaining cardiovascular fitness is a bit more difficult and usually requires a piece of equipment. A treadmill is a good investment if you plan on being homebound. It gives you the options of walking, jogging, running, and hiking on inclines. Adding light hand weights or even wearing a light backpack can increase the intensity and allow you to get a more intense workout. Most treadmills today can foldup making them more space efficient ( ). A stationary bike is also a good option if your weight bearing status is limited. While it is less diverse and it will require more time to get similar cardiovascular benefit, it is an excellent option for patients with foot, ankle, knee, and hip problems. Stationary bikes are also cost and space efficient( ). If you own a bicycle, you can purchase what is called a “bike trainer” to put your existing bike on and ride your outdoor bike as a stationary bike in the house. While bike trainers vary in price  ( ), you can usually find a good one that is less expensive than a new stationary bike or a treadmill.

There are a variety of cost effective systems that are space efficient but may require installation of minimal hardware. For instance, suspension-training straps made popular by is cost and space efficient for home use. As with any product, several years later a less expensive spinoff comes out. There are several competing brands, so do your homework before purchasing a set of suspension straps for the basement or garage. Installing a heavy-duty eyehook in a sturdy beam will help diversify your workouts. Most of the systems come with a door hook but these limit your angles and exercise options. There is a chance for minor damage to the door or doorframe with repeated use. These strap systems allow you to perform a combination of traditional exercises like pulls, presses, and squats while adding Pilates and other functional type training maneuvers. They help combine strength, flexibility, and CORE training in one device at a minimal cost ( ).

If you have physical conditions such as degenerated hips, knees, and ankles or chronic lower back and neck pain, using a form of exercise that allows you to support those areas versus the free standing positions of a suspension system may be a better option.

You may need to make concessions in both space and cost, but there is a solution. In 30+ years of practice I have come to appreciate the Total Gym® device. While you may laugh at the commercials the device itself has evolved into one of the most functional pieces of home exercise equipment on the market. I was introduced to the Total Gym® in roughly 1992 by a close friend who was a legendary high school certified athletic trainer. The unit he had at the school was cursory by today’s standards but functional and effective, nonetheless. There are several models today with a variety of attachments. The units fold up for storage and probably take up the same space you would need to use a suspension system. Most come fully assembled, ready to use out of the box. One hint, never pay full price, there is always a deal or a sale ( ). Every practice I have been associated with in the last 30+ years has had a Total Gym® of one variety or another.

When exercising from home, develop a schedule. Be routine and regular. Make subtle changes day to day to keep it fresh. Engage in online training of some type once or twice a week to interact with the outside world. Lastly, keep a log to track your progress.

Dr. Buchberger is a licensed chiropractor, physical therapist, certified strength and conditioning specialist and Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians with 32 years of clinical sports injury experience. Dr. Buchberger can be contacted at 315-515-3117, or