How watching the Olympics can help jumpstart anyone’s exercise routine

Lena Weib

Watching the Olympics, and seeing athletes in peak physical condition, can help folks re-establish or jump start their own exercise routines, a D.C.-area physical therapist says.

Watching the Olympics, and seeing athletes in peak physical condition, can help folks re-establish or jump start their own exercise routines, a D.C.-area physical therapist says.

“Whatever current addictive streaming TV show you’re watching — and most of us are watching something — that could be your exercise time,” said Sebastian Cohen, a physical therapist at the Kaiser Permanente Lanham Rehabilitation Center.

Cohen said it’s helpful if exercise isn’t something people have to find time to do as a brand new habit.

Sebastian Cohen is a physical therapist at the Kaiser Permanente Lanham Rehabilitation Center. (Courtesy Sebastian Cohen)

“Just tie it to something you’re going to do anyway. And that’s a good way to anchor it into some kind of habit you’ve got. And since it’s winter, a lot of us are definitely watching TV and being indoors,” Cohen said.

During summer, people can get exercise practically by accident, but staying active inside can be easier than you might think. Cohen recommends something he’s named the “sit-to-stand challenge.”

It doesn’t take much of a time commitment and only involves standing up and sitting down repeatedly, which targets the quads, glutes and core.

“Ten to 20 sit-to-stands out of a chair shouldn’t take you more than two or three minutes,” he said.

Cohen recommends starting with 10 and then building up one by one as it gets easier; set reminders on your phone or with an app to do the routine multiple times a day.

“If you’re standing up and sitting down out of a chair five times a day, once you get to 20 you’re doing 100 squats a day; you didn’t even notice it,” he said.

February 4, 2022 | Easy exercise for desk jockeys (Sebastian Cohen with WTOP’s Kristi King)

Cohen said he typically sees a rush of clients in the weeks following snow storms. That’s because shoveling snow can involve aggressive lifting, squatting and twisting, and heavy weight going through a body’s core.

“I always just say, ‘Remember that movement is medicine.’ Even 10 to 15 minutes a day can save you a lot of grief down the road,” Cohen said. He added that people who are looking to be more active can find lots great content online. Whether it’s on YouTube or TikTok, the key is to know what you’re looking for and typing in terms such as, for example, gentle core, proper form for lifting or lifting form.

“And you’ll find all sorts of people that are helping you get a better idea of how to avoid pain,” Cohen said. “And as always, listen to your body — if it hurts, stop.”

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