Fitness and wellness can be maintained while social distancing continues

With gyms, fitness centres and sports groups shut down as a result of Manitoba public health orders related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it can be difficult to work physical activity into your day while staying home as much as possible to reduce your risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

To help out those who want to stay healthy, the Thompson Citizen asked a few local experts for  their tips.

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“The key to keeping healthy, both mentally and physically, is to remain active daily," says Laban Fitness owner Chris Byrne. "To classify an activity as an efficient workout, your heart rate must be increased. For 20 minutes a day, heighten your heart rate by increasing the intensity of the activity. YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, etc., literally have thousands of workouts that you can perform at home with no equipment. Simply search using the key words ‘home workout,’ and 'no equipment.’ The results are numerous and varied. There are all levels of workouts for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced athlete. Do this every day. Try something new. Try it with your loved ones. Use these workouts as a very simple way to bond with your loved ones while keeping fit.”

Make the nutrition aspect simple, Byrne advises. “Cook more often from scratch. Follow the ‘Eat Well Plate’ every meal. It is simply half a plate of fruit and veggies, one-quarter protein foods and one-quarter whole grain foods. Explore the Canada’s Food Guide site Get pop and juice out of your life! Make water your beverage of choice.”

“We are all feeling anxious with what is happening around the world and not knowing what the near future holds,” says Byrne. “Being fit is also about being balanced. Take this opportunity to find the positives in being quarantined. Learn new things. Teach your loved ones your wisdom. Read, watch movies, try new recipes and contact your family and friends through video conferencing. To my taekwondo students, past and present, practise! Now is the time to remember what is most important in your life. Now is the time to strengthen yourself physically and mentally for the post-crisis.”

“Over the past 18 years, Laban Fitness has helped hundreds change their lives for the better,” Byrne says. “In these times of uncertainty, we remain true to our initial offer to the people of Thompson as a better fitness facility and personal training service. We teach our clients how to eat and how to train safely and efficiently. You may email me at if you have questions about health, fitness, and nutrition. Keep safe, keep training, and keep your loved ones close.”

“There are a lot of fitness experts that are giving away free home workouts online for people to keep them active during the gym closures so my suggestion would be to go online,” Iron Fitness owner Lindsay Binns says. “Different apps are available as well for people.”

Leslie Wulowka, the Northern Regional Health Authority's regional director of addictions and mental wellness, says part of many people’s mental health regime is using exercise as a coping strategy. She says even if your usual outlets aren’t available, you can get creative, using exercise and workout apps for guidance.

“You can still use the same techniques,” she said, even if it’s in a different setting.

Northern Manitobans are also lucky to live in a sparsely populated area, making it more feasible for them to get outside for a nature walk without contravening social distancing recommendations to stay at least six feet away from other people.

“It’s very soothing [being in nature],” Wulowka said.

Northern Regional Health Authority public health dietitian Melissa Pham says while people aren’t encouraged to stock up with more groceries than they need while shopping, some items, including pasta, pasta sauce, frozen fruits and vegetables, yogurt, cheese and canned vegetables and beans will stay usable longer.

“They have a longer shelf life,” she says.

Canada’s Food Guide ( is a good resource for tips on nutrition and cooking. Pham says it’s important to practise mindful eating and not to let yourself get so distracted that you don’t realize you’re full. This can be done by portioning out snacks instead of eating potato chips straight from the bag, for example, and by making eating the only thing that you're doing.

“Turn off the TV and put your phones away,” she says.

While eating well is good for your health, it isn’t a magic bullet.

“There’s nothing you can really do to boost your immune system” by eating specific foods or supplements, Pham says. “Food isn’t going to prevent you from getting anything.”

But parents can use the time presented by being at home more and not having outside activities to lay the foundation of their kids to become healthier eaters by getting them involved in menu planning and cooking.

“We’re always so busy with our families,” Pham says. “The is the perfect opportunity to start cooking as a family.”


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