Wellness Challenge Week 2: Exercise

by | Oct 30, 2020 | 2020 Wellness Challenge, Physical Therapy, Uncategorized

We entered the second week of our 4-Week Wellness Challenge, which is designed to address sleep, exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness – all areas where we have experienced disruptions due to COVID-19. 

The Challenge started with a focus on improving sleep and productivity and this past week was focused on gradually increasing training volume and frequency as well as improving hydration. See below for this week’s tips on exercise from our director of physical therapy, Shraddha Bhatia, PT, DPT, OCS as well as the details of the challenge for the week, and a number of exercise questions we received from members of our community throughout the week.


Week 2 Goal:
Monitor and reach water intake goals while pushing yourself to incorporate more movement activities throughout your day.


Movement and Hydration Tips to Combat Fatigue:

Now that you have identified your sleep chronotype and incorporated some tried-and-true best practices to improve your sleep routine, you are hopefully experiencing more quality sleep and productive days. 

However, even if you are getting good sleep, you may still feel tired. Many people equate fatigue to poor sleep, but it is just one factor. Fatigue can be the result of little exercise, dehydration, poor nutrition, or stress, among many other factors. This week, let’s address a couple of these factors and gradually add movement to your day and monitor your water intake. 

The word “gradual” is key. Many people get inspired to start exercising and throw themselves into bootcamps and HIIT classes, but then end up injuring themselves because they did too much too soon. The problem is not with the classes themselves; the problem is with the incorrect identification of your baseline thresholds. 

We all have an envelope of function – a representation of our tissues’ ability to deal with load. To simplify it further, load exceeding or falling short of that envelope can lead to injury or the perception of injury. This envelope is not just influenced by physical factors but also intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Think about it – does your neck hurt when you’re sitting for 10 minutes or after hours of sitting in a prolonged position?

This week’s challenge is designed to help people who want to start exercising but don’t know where to begin. For the rest who need help with training volume and progression, please use the week to balance your programming, taking into account your sleep, recovery, diet and mental well-being (All the factors that influence your envelope of function).

For a more in-depth conversation on your envelope of function and how to get started, see Shraddha’s article, “Exercise for the Non-exercisers” on Rhone’s blog, The Pursuit.


This Week’s Challenge:
Gradually increase training volume and frequency + focus on hydration

  • Step 1: Identify your “sport” or activity you love to do
    • Find an exercise that makes you feel energized and happy whether it’s through dance, running, yoga, spinning, boxing, swimming, etc. Find a way to move your body that you know will make you feel better afterwards.
      • Don’t forget to take into account your sleep chronotype – it can guide you on the optimal times in the day to exercise
  • Step 2: Identify your training loopholes 
    • For example: I love to run and I get 5 runs in a week but I don’t really do any strengthening? I love to lift weights but I don’t spend any time on cardio. I hate to exercise in general but I don’t mind spinning, I just don’t know where to start? I love playing golf over the weekend but I don’t have time to work on my upper body strength.
  • Step 3: Set a realistic goal to overcome these loopholes
    • Weave that goal into your weekly training plan. For example, if you are going to run 4 days this week, add a day for strength training
  • Step 4: Gradually increase training volume and frequency 
    • The following plan is great for people who want to start exercising but don’t know where to begin. Let this guide you in planning your training for the week and beyond.

  • Ways to stay hydrated:
    • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily (ie. If you weigh 150 lbs, goal would be to drink 75 oz of water a day)
    • Try to drink at least 16oz of water as soon as you wake up, before coffee
    • Try infusing your water to make it more interesting and fun to drink such as lemon, cucumber, watermelon, mint, orange, pineapple, etc.
    • Eat water rich foods such as watermelon, melon, apples, etc.
  • Other things to keep in mind if increasing movement in your day
    • Spend enough time on warm-up and cool down. Yoga is a great way to cool down.
    • Focus on recovery, active or passive, with dynamic stretching, cold immersions, compression garments, restorative yoga.
    • Set a reminder each hour to get up and walk around (or if you have an apple watch, set it to remind you!)
    • Keep it interesting by walking to different parts of your neighborhood instead of your usual route
    • Find a workout buddy to keep each other accountable
    • Incorporate a walk after dinner to aid in digestion and wind down at the end of the day (+add more steps!)


Exercise Q&A from instagram:


What is the right amount of exercise I should get in a day?
30 minutes of moderate exercise daily for adults and about 60 minutes for kids and teenagers. Strength training is recommended at least twice a week.

I have trouble staying hydrated. Do you have any tips on how I can incorporate hydrating into my daily routine?
Set some ground rules for yourself that can later be converted into habits like having a glass of water right after you wake up or after every meal. Add more water to your diet if your caffeine, alcohol intake is high or if you exercise more.Incorporating snacks like dry fruits and nuts will help since they trigger a thirst response. Add foods with high water content to your diet.

Are certain types of exercise better than others for me? Aerobic vs strength etc.?
Your exercise program should consist of something you love to do, something that prepares your body for the lifestyle you lead and little bit of strength training to maintain bone and muscle health. Any exercise is better than no exercise at all.

What are some ways I can prep my body before a workout?
A 10-20 minute warm-up that consists of activities that would simulate your workout. Low-level cardio, light jogging, skipping, sun salutations, spot marching; resistance band training are a few examples. You want to increase your resting HR by 20% in your warm-up itself.

What are some ways I can recover after a workout?
Spending time on recovery is key. You can try active methods of recovery like dynamic stretching, restorative yoga, low-level cardio or passive methods like cold water immersion, compression garments, massage, foam rolling, Hyperice, etc. Choose a recovery method that works best for you.

Does eating before you sleep affect your rest?
When you eat, your digestive system is put to work to digest food instead of nightly housekeeping sweeping away bacteria. When you lie down, your stomach acid is hammering away on food without the assistance of gravity. Alcohol is particularly problematic because it relaxes the door of your stomach to your esophagus so you are more likely to get gastric reflux causing unpleasant awakenings.

I am trying to work out in the morning, but I also love coffee in the morning. Should I try to workout before or after I have a cup of coffee?
Latest research suggests that caffeine ingestion improves exercise performance. Ergogenic effects of caffeine are seen on muscle endurance, strength and anaerobic power. So coffee may not be a bad idea before workout. I recommend hydrating doubly well after the workout though.

I am just starting to exercise and have been getting leg cramps in the evenings, any suggestions for how to help with this?
Leg cramps could be a sign of dehydration, low potassium or low magnesium. Light cardio is a good way to overcome them. Make sure you’re hydrating well after exercising. Invest time in a good cool down routine.

I want to get back to a good exercise routine, but motivation is tough to keep. How long do you usually have to stick with it before it becomes more routine and enjoyable?
If it isn’t enjoyable in the beginning, it’s probably the wrong exercise. Incentivize your exercise routine with something that personally motivates you. Exercise with a friend or buddy, listen to a podcast, allow yourself a cheat meal, etc. Also know that nobody is motivated everyday, you will struggle to find motivation on some days and that’s fine too.

For sore muscles, is hot or cold better for aiding recovery?
Cold water baths, immersions have shown some benefits in aiding recovery but more research is needed to be absolutely certain.


Need More Guidance?

If you are in need of more detailed health planning, are experiencing any pain when exercising, or recovering from an injury, we encourage you to schedule a visit with one of our providers to discuss your needs more in depth. Members can contact our Personal Health Navigators by chat through the member portal or by calling 646.819.5100 to schedule. 

Additionally, if you like to engage with apps on your phone, The Health Center team pulled together the top apps they find helpful for training. 

Nike Training Club or Nike Run
Apple Health

This Week’s Prize are sponsored by: Hyperice Hypersphere Mini, Rhone, Lululemon, and Bluestone Lane. If participating in the Challenge, see your email for how to enter this week’s drawing as well as exclusive discounts available to Challenge participants.

From your care partners at The Health Center at Hudson Yards

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