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Maintaining Your Cardiorespiratory Fitness while Maintaining Your Distance

by Joseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS

Disclaimer: The content disseminated in this article shall not be constituted as medical advice, nor should any of the suppositions set forth supersede the time-sensitive directives enacted by government organizations and public health agencies which are both empirically driven and continually evolving.

The decree of social distancing has now been embedded in our lives, influencing how we tackle mundane tasks we formerly took for granted.

COVID-19 and the resultant societal shutdown have grinded virtually every aspect of life to a screeching halt, but that doesn’t mean your workouts should be shelved. In fact, with a little introspection and a modicum of creativity, one can still maintain, or even elevate their game during these otherwise trying times.

Here’s some encouraging news, in the few weeks since your gym or fitness studio closed its doors, it’s doubtful that you’ve lost everything you worked so hard for.

Aerobic endurance can be maintained for a period of up to (30) days. Though, among highly trained endurance athletes, slight decrements in aerobic power and capacity are observed within three weeks of total inactivity. However, these losses can be attenuated by incorporating cross-training, or a combination of exercise modalities to develop fitness qualities, or in this case, maintain one’s fitness level.

For those unable to safely venture outside due to a dearth of running trails nearby or residing within an area with a high population density, these workouts should do the trick in keeping you in shape. Additionally, the inclusion of traditional strength exercises, involving your bodyweight, or household objects and fixtures, something most recreational runners already eschew, can improve your running economy, a term that describes the efficiency your body utilizes energy at a given velocity. Strength training adeptly strengthens muscles and tendons, enabling them to absorb, store, and redirect forces sustained during running gait.

Here’s a circuit that lengthens and strengthens muscles while keeping your heart rate at or near the pace you’re maintaining during your runs.

Circuit

Perform each numbered block (i.e. “1, 2, 3” for as many rounds as desired, or possible with little to no rest between exercises).

1a) Alternating Heel Grab with Overhead Reach 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)
1b) Alternating Reverse Lunge 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)
1c) Shuffle Steps 20 repetitions total
1d) High Knees x :15 seconds

2a) Alternating Groiner with Thoracic Rotation 1 x 5 (each side)
2b) Push-up 1 x 10 repetitions
2c) Prone Robbery Exercise (scapular retraction and shoulder external rotation) 1 x 15 repetitions
2d) Alternating Cook Hip Lift 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)

3a) Prisoner Squat 1 x 10 repetitions
3b) Side Plank with Hip Abduction (Leg Raise) 1 x 10 repetitions (each side)
3c) Prone Alternating Shoulder Touch 20 repetitions total
3d) Burpee 1 x 3 repetitions total

Try it out and if trekking outdoors, be sure to keep your distance as the most recent recommendation is maintaining 6 feet or more between you and others who may be sharing the same trail, sidewalk, or roadway.

Reference

Coyle, E.F., Martin, W.H., Sinacore, D.R., Joyner, M.J., Hagberg, J.M., & Holloszy, J.O. (1984). Time course loss of adaptations after stopping prolonged intense endurance training. Journal of Applied Physiology, Respiratory, Environmental Exercise Physiology, 57 (6), 1857-1864.

Joe GiandonatoJoseph Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS presently serves as a fitness specialist at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where he assists with the oversight of recreational and college-wide wellness programming. Giandonato also serves as a part-time faculty member at Eastern University and Chestnut Hill College, where he teaches Exercise Science electives. Previously, Giandonato served as the manager of Health Promotion and Wellness at Drexel University where he initiated and implemented the award winning A HEALTHIER U campus wellness initiative. Additionally, Giandonato serves as an instructor for the World Instructor Training Schools, through which he’s helped certify hundreds of personal trainers since 2010.

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