New Mexicans will be under a two-week partial shutdown of the state due to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s shelter-in-place order in the hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The shutdown will last through Nov. 30 and with the weather cooling down outside, exercise will be more difficult than in summer months. The Current-Argus reached out to three Carlsbad High School coaches to get their thoughts and suggestions on how to stay healthy while at home.
The importance of exercise
Bonnie McKenzie, a physical education (PE) teacher by day and Cavegirls basketball coach during the season, spent the current semester doing online workouts with her students in the hopes of keeping them active while they are away from the school.
McKenzie estimates 25-40 percent of her students sign on for any of her PE classes. She’s never had a day with 100 percent signing on and once had zero students sign on for a workout session. McKenzie’s largest class, a basic PE course has 30 students and she reported 10 of them signing on for a single live workout session.
“My upper-level students are committed and they seem to be more concerned about logging on. But the upper-level classes have smaller groups,” she said.
“Our State of New Mexico stats are ridiculous regarding childhood obesity. It’s out of control. Now you have other issues like anxiety, stress and depression. I think some students think ‘Oh, PE isn’t that important.’ but it’s really important because it is still a requirement for graduation. They still need one full year of physical education to graduate.”
The State of Childhood Obesity’s website notes “15.2 percent of youth ages 10 to 17 have obesity, giving New Mexico a ranking of 23 among the 50 states and D.C.” and adds 12.1 percent of all children who are a part of WIC (a supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children) are obese which ranks 41st in the country.
McKenzie tries to record every workout she does with her classes and uploads them so her students can do an exercise session if they can’t make a live event. She estimates 50 percent of her students have taken advantage of the ability to use these workouts.
“Our objective as teachers is to give our students every opportunity to succeed, but it starts with them logging on and staying on and being engaged. Exercise is at its weakest point right now. Even if I can get kids logged in twice a week I know that at least two times a week they’re moving their bodies, increasing their heart rates and getting away from the computer.”
Joe Bach, Carlsbad’s wrestling coach, wrestled as a heavyweight for the University of Oklahoma. When asked about what exercises are ideal for an at-home workout, he pointed out it’s crucial to prepare your body before any strenuous exercise and to be properly warmed-up.
“Stretching is one of the most important things you can do for your body. If you don’t stretch a certain area your blood pools up that’s where varicose veins come up,” Bach said. “It takes compression for those veins to get the blood from pooling up and clotting as well. This is the best preventative measure with COVID.”
Mike Desmond, the wide receiver coach for the Cavemen, has worked with collegiate football players and NFL hopefuls like Army safety Ryan Velez, Oregon State offensive lineman Nate Eldridge and Arizona offensive lineman Thiyo Lukusa. In order for these men to stay in shape they also make sure to eat the right foods.
“It starts off with dieting. When you’re home, confined and inside you have to consider your calorie count. A lot of people don’t track their caloric intake from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed. I’m not saying they need to be robots but if you’re looking for alternatives, especially if you’ve been packing on the pounds inside, look at your caloric intake to start.”
Desmond said getting ample protein is essential because it fills the body up the fastest and makes you feel fuller longer.
The core exercises
Strengthening a person’s core is essential to building a good foundation for other activities. Desmond says, “if you’re not strong in the core, you’re not strong anywhere.” For beginners at home without any equipment Desmond suggests starting with three exercises: planks, pushups and full body squats.
“Planks are big. Just start out in a plank position and hold it for 20 seconds,” Desmond said. “Do that five or six times and will not only strengthen your core but your chest, your triceps, it works your legs and back, too. As you progress from 20 seconds move up to 30 seconds. The goal is to hold the position for a minute or a minute-thirty.”
In addition to the exercises, Desmond suggests two yoga poses that work a lot of different muscles: warrior position and downward dog. All five of these exercises are designed for beginners or people returning from a long absence.
“The last thing you want to do is get discouraged,” Desmond said.
Matthew Asher can be reached at 575-628-5524, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Caveman_Masher on Twitter. Support award-winning local journalism. Subscribe to the Current-Argus today.