In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the base fitness centers, like many off-base gyms, have temporarily closed. Despite the limited access to fitness facilities, exercise classes, and exercise equipment, it is still important to keep physically fit and there are alternate resources available to help the base community.
Master Sgt. Rhoneiula Jackson, Section Chief of Fitness and Sports, 375th Force Support Squadron, said, “You can still exercise while you’re in the house. If you don’t have exercise equipment, you can use your own body weight for exercises like pushups and squats. Strive for at least 20 minutes of cardiovascular training and 15 minutes of strength training.”
Jackson also suggested working out with videos. “Wellbeats, the contractor who services our kiosks, has offered their services online for free through April 30,” said Jackson. “It’s simple to use by downloading the app and entering the invitation code 57a4df63. There are over 500 classes on the app to choose.”
Another option for keeping fit is to do outdoor activities like running, walking, and biking. The James Gym track and the rubberized trail around the base both remain open.
Maintaining a healthy diet is also a key aspect of physical fitness. With the Illinois governor’s current order to shelter in place, many people are teleworking at home and children now are home schooled. Eating nutritiously can also be a challenge.
“While snacking is helpful for keeping our energy levels up and preventing overeating during mealtimes, it is important to practice mindful eating,” said Allison Brown, Health Educator for Health Promotion, 375th Aerospace Medicine Squadron.
Brown suggests portioning food versus eating from the bag. She also suggests adults and children identify the difference between hunger and a craving.
“With hunger, there are physical body cues,” said Brown. “When you are hungry, you will tend to eat most food choices presented to you and the sensation typically doesn’t go away after 20 minutes.
“When it’s a craving, you generally want a specific food and a craving can be brought on by sight or smell,” said Brown. “A craving will usually go away after 20 minutes.”
To keep the whole family healthy, Brown said parents can get children involved by teaching them how to read food labels, helping them to figure out serving sizes, and involving them in the preparation of snacks and meals.
Brown said keeping children active is important too. She encourages parents to be creative in finding ways to get kids moving. “Unstructured activity is just as important. Dust off those bikes. Get out the sidewalk chalk and bubbles. Or, have children make a dance with their friends via video chat. Each child takes a turn adding a dance step. When they can reunite, the children will be able to perform their unique, choreographed dance for their families.”
The base will continue to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding sanitizing common use spaces and implementing social distancing. The base fitness facilities will reopen when it is deemed safe for the base community.
Until then, Jackson said, “During this time, remember to take care of your physical, emotional and mental health. Set fitness goals, workout, eat healthy and check on those around you.”