With social distancing, proper handwashing and self-isolation remaining as crucial preventive practices to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Winnipeg’s Athletic Therapy Centre (ATC) and its Department of Recreation Services have created programs to aid in physical wellness.
The ATC has created at-home exercises that focus on stretching, posture correction and self-massage. Head athletic therapist Jeff Billeck says these exercises are important, as many people are now confined to their homes, which is a huge adjustment to their normal daily activity.
“Being based out of our homes now, it is not the same day-to-day movements that we would normally have,” he says. “Therefore, we have provided a long list of exercises so people can choose what works for them at home.”
While a survey by Leger Online found that 80 per cent of Canadians are satisfied working from home, health issues can arise from prolonged sitting, poor eating habits and mental strain.
“If people are not using good posture (while sitting), they can develop neck and lower-back issues, which would be the most common, just because our bodies are made to move,” Billeck says.
“The muscles get weaker, and core and spinal stability decreases the less you do. There should also (be a focus on) mental health. Our Wesmen athletes, for example, used to have a regimented schedule with practices, game times and being active six days per week, whereas now they do not have that.
“Staying active, for athletes and people who are used to daily activity, is important for mental and physical health.”
Recreation Services is now offering free virtual fitness classes that include Zumba, bodyweight circuits and yoga. Tricia Klassen, manager of the Bill Wedlake Fitness Centre, says that although the programs are geared toward their membership, they are open for anyone to join.
“We just want our members (and the community) to stay connected,” she says.
“As soon as there were closures, we began looking to create opportunities to help people stay healthy during this time where movement is restricted.”
Klassen notes that instructors are mindful of form and posture, and there are different intensity levels for each exercise so as to not cause harm or injury to participants.
“We rely on our instructors to provide safe workouts,” she says. “They (demonstrate) forms throughout our classes and promote a healthy lifestyle. Our instructors promote movement for your body, however it feels good for you.”
University of Winnipeg kinesiology alum Nigel Moore notes that during this off-season, the Wesmen trainers and staff are staying in contact with their athletes to help them stay healthy.
“A lot of what we are focusing on is intervention, helping with the overall health of the athletes, making sure they are robust, taking care of their injuries and working on their performance,” Moore says.
“This is a good time for them to rest and recover, working on mobility and intervention for the long term. When the athletic season … start(s), then we will be looking at their optimal performance.”