Alternative methods for Students to stay active during Pandemic

As the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to linger, the students of Baldwin Wallace have been forced to adjust to the new health guidelines placed in the Lou Higgins Rec Center weight room.

There are many open-access fitness opportunities on campus, but after the 35-person capacity limit was placed in the gym at the beginning the school year, students and staff are facing the challenge of participating in physical activity.

Physical activity helps to boost the immune system, said Dr. Amy Jo Sutterluety, Professor of the School of Health, Physical Education and Sport Sciences and member of the Exercise is Medicine on-campus program committee, and it is important to utilize as the flu season approaches.

“Being active during Covid-19 definitely is important for our immune system,” she said. “We know that physical activity of moderate levels—brisk walking, using the treadmill, using the elliptical—releases certain immune system defense mechanisms that can assist with our body’s ability to fight off the flu or Covid-19.”

As a member of the Exercise is Medicine on Campus (EIM-OC) program, she aims to engage in the promotion of physical activity as a vital sign of health. In this program, faculty, staff and students work together to improve the health and well-being of the BW community.

Remaining physically active can also be an effective treatment strategy for symptoms of both depression and anxiety and is very useful and important as it relates to the obstacles faced during Covid-19.

“Physical activity can assist with people’s moods,” said Dr. Sutterluety. “Many people are currently dealing with a lot of mental health issues, such as a change of lifestyle and our ability to get out and do the things that most of us have been used to throughout our lives.”

The BW Health Promotion office hosted the Virtual Week of Wellfest last week, Sept 21-25. Each day of the virtual wellness week held different themes to promote community wellness such as healthy eating, at-home movement activities, stress and anxiety management, and many more to assist with the concern of mental health this semester.

In addition to these virtual resources for wellness and mental health promotion, the BW Campus Rec encourages students to participate in BW Nature RX, which is an outdoor adventure campus initiative to get people moving outside and active, said Caroline Kessler, Coordinator of the BW Campus Recreation Services. The outdoor program meets every Wednesday from 3:30-5 pm at Coe Lake.

“Being in nature is proven to help your mental state,” said Kessler. “It does help with stress levels… being out in nature whether you’re taking a walk or hammocking. We have a lot of Outdoor Adventure programming like BW Nature RX that helps people stay active even with the Covid guidelines.”

Accommodating to those who prefer at-home physical activity, the department also provides the BW community with virtual fitness classes, said Kessler. The public YouTube channel, BW Rec Sports, includes remote fitness videos such as Yoga, Zumba, and Conditioning exercises. Although the gym activity has been fairly steady, Kessler said the students and staff of the weight room have been thoroughly following health protocols and cleaning procedures for equipment.

The Campus Rec staff asks everyone who is working out that they clean the equipment they use after they work out, as they have added quite a few more spray bottles inside. Additionally, they have also added extra weight room staff to clean with a stronger disinfectant consistently throughout the whole day to ensure proper sanitation.

They have implemented a daily shutdown in the weight room from 2-3 pm, she said, in which the staff uses a backpack disinfectant sprayer to spray down all equipment and allow it to sit to effectively kill bacteria.

“We’re really just making sure that we’re keeping it consistent and working with our students and staff to enforce the rules during this time,” said Kessler.

According to Kessler, the Campus Rec is continuing to work with the outdoor adventure club to keep students active while following the social distancing guidelines throughout the semester.