Newswise — MAYWOOD, Ill. – Though the number of cases of flu seems to be on the decline there are still numerous viruses wreaking havoc on people’s daily lives. From the stomach bug to respiratory illnesses it can be difficult to get out of bed, let alone maintain your fitness routine.

“Regular exercise is a great way to reduce stress and sleep better at night. This helps boost your immune system. However, vigorous exercise and extreme conditioning can have a negative impact on your health if you’re sick. When fighting a viral illness, it’s best to keep your exercise session short and not as intense. If you have a fever or stomach bug it might be best to hold off,” said Joe Berg, personal trainer and fitness specialist at Loyola Center for Health.

When appropriate, he suggests some exercises that can help you slowly work back into your fitness routine. These include light aerobics, like walking and cycling at an easy pace, planks, glute bridges, body weight squats and push-ups.

“These exercises cover the major muscles of the body and when performed in moderation, can help boost your immune system,” Berg said.

We all know the importance of wiping down machines and washing our hands often while at the gym. Still, for some, skipping the gym during a viral outbreak to avoid contact with infected people may seem like best option.

Valerie Walkowiak, medical integration coordinator at the Loyola Center for Fitness, gives some ideas for how to keep up your fitness routine until you feel it’s safe to go back to the gym.

“Weather permitting, it’s always great to just get out of the house and walk or run to get in some cardio exercise. Just make sure you wear the proper clothes to keep warm. This includes layers of clothing, a hat, scarf, gloves and appropriate shoes,” Walkowiak said.

If you don’t have exercise equipment in the house and the weather makes it impossible to exercise outside she suggests climbing up and down a staircase, jogging in place or performing jumping jacks.

If you’re looking for a little more, she suggests creating your own circuit training exercises. This includes 2-3 minutes of cardio exercise alternated by 30-60 seconds of strength-training exercise to get your heart rate up.

Here are some examples:• Climb up and down a staircase for 2 minutes then switch to push-ups for 30 seconds.• Jog in place for 2 minutes then switch to seated rows for 30 seconds• Jumping jacks for 2 minutes followed by squats for 30 seconds• Step up using the bottom of the staircase for 2 minutes then switch to heel raises for 30 seconds.

“You don’t have to have dumbbells, bands or tubing to get in some strength training at home. Try using household items to add resistance such as soup cans, gallon jugs of water or your own body weight,” Walkowiak said.

She suggests the following exercises to target all the muscle groups:• Push-ups on the floor or against a wall will work your chest, the front of your shoulders and triceps muscles.• Seated or standing row exercises using soup cans to work your back, rear shoulders and biceps muscles• Squats, sit-to-chair stand or lunges to work your legs, glutes and core muscles.• Heel raises on the edge of a step to work your calf muscles• Planks, abdominal crunches, abdominal twists and leg raises to work your core muscles• Biceps curls using soup cans• Triceps kickbacks or over presses using soup cans or a weighted object

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The Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division (HSD) advances interprofessional, multidisciplinary and transformative education and research while promoting service to others through stewardship of scientific knowledge and preparation of tomorrow's leaders. The HSD is located on the Health Sciences Campus in Maywood, Illinois. It includes the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, the Stritch School of Medicine, the biomedical research programs of the Graduate School, and several other institutes and centers encouraging new research and interprofessional education opportunities across all of Loyola University Chicago. The faculty and staff of the HSD bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and a strong commitment to seeing that Loyola's health sciences continue to excel and exceed the standard for academic and research excellence. For more on the HSD, visit


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