Options for Care and Maintaining Physical Activity During COVID-19 and Social Distancing

COVID-19 is causing significant disruptions to all areas of life and presents a serious threat to health. The American Physical Therapy Association supports following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for remaining safe and avoiding unnecessary exposure, which includes staying home and distancing yourself from others when possible.

But practicing social distancing doesn’t mean that you have to stop being physically active. Getting the recommended amount of daily physical activity for your age and ability helps to maintain and improve overall health, and it is perhaps even more important during stressful times like these.

First, follow CDC guidelines for personal health habits to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. Then, take advantage of the following tips and resources that you can use to maintain your health and fitness, and get answers to frequently asked questions about care while doing your part to stop the spread of the virus.

Key Guidelines for Adults

  • Adults should move more and sit less throughout the day. Some physical activity is better than none. Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits.

  • For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity. Preferably, aerobic activity should be spread throughout the week.

  • Additional health benefits are gained by engaging in physical activity beyond the equivalent of 300 minutes (5 hours) of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

  • Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities of moderate or greater intensity and that involve all major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week, as these activities provide additional health benefits.

  • Older adults should determine their level of effort for physical activity relative to their level of fitness.

  • Older adults with chronic conditions should understand whether and how their conditions affect their ability to do regular physical activity safely.

  • When older adults cannot do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week because of chronic conditions, they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow.