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Exercise Lifts Your Spirits. Luckily, You Have (Book-Shaped?) Free Weights


Exercise can be more important than ever during times of stress, and these sure are times of stress. Enter a team of athletic trainers from the University of Texas, Austin.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Hello, everyone. Next up in our at-home equipment series, we'll showcase the many ways that you can use a chair or a bench.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Hi, guys. We're going to be continuing with our series of household items that you can use as weight equipment. So you can use your own backpack and fill it with textbooks. You can use a bag of seed or fertilizer. Or you can even use a bag of dog food.

SIMON: Clint Martin is also a trainer at the University of Texas and joins us now from Austin. Thanks so much for being with us.

CLINT MARTIN: Thank you for having me.

SIMON: Look. My family and I are in a big city. We don't have any seed or fertilizer, but we've got a lot of dog food. How do we exercise with it?

MARTIN: You can do it. You've got to get creative in these times. It's interesting - I've had these questions quite a few times now, these last couple days. I'd say act like you're in elementary school again. Put a bag on your back and do some lunges. Do some squats, whatever it may be. If you have children, play with them, indoors, obviously, if we can. But there's a lot of different things we can do. Just getting creative and having fun with it is the best thing to do.

SIMON: Any particular exercise you'd recommend for people who are older right now?

MARTIN: For people who are older, I think bigger movements, total body movements will help when it comes to bone loss and different things like that. So if you could do, like, a squat, which - everyone should be able to squat. We have a coach here, actually, who's - he's in - I think he's 78 now, and he comes in the weight room and does lunges and squats every day. It helps him get up the stairs every day, just staying fit and doing different things like that.

SIMON: You started a video series, right?

MARTIN: Yes, we did.

SIMON: And why was that important to you? Why is exercise so important now?

MARTIN: For us, the big thing we realized is we spend the majority of our day on the floor coaching. Now we're at home, obviously, sending workouts to our athletes. But how could we coach not only our athletes but help others? Because everyone's stuck inside right now. Even for me, I'm very active, obviously, so for me I'm doing things that I haven't done in years, let alone maybe ever because I don't have the equipment to do so. So we figured if it's hard for us, it's probably hard for everybody.

SIMON: Exercise helps, too, doesn't it?

MARTIN: Absolutely. Exercise is great. When we're talking about the body in general as a whole, exercise can release a lot of different neurochemicals in the body that's going to help with - it could be mood stabilizers. It could be helping regulate depression and anxiety. It could help with curbing your appetite. A whole bunch of different things that can come from just exercising.

SIMON: What about diet? That's important now, too, isn't it?

MARTIN: Diet's huge, especially for people who may have been very active before. Specifically, if you have been very active and you're not as active now, you probably can't eat the exact same way that you were eating before. If you do have more protein, I think that's good to add into your diet just because it can help curb that appetite. You can eat more levels of protein, which may be less calories, but that could satiate your hunger, actually. So you'll eat less by eating denser proteins.

SIMON: Where can people find your videos, Mr. Martin?

MARTIN: If they go to Instagram, they can look at our videos at @texasathleticperformance. Also, you can look at - if you have a favorite sports team, most people in our space are doing something similar. I saw that the Denver Broncos posted something the other day. Their strength coach Loren Landow was posting things. I think a lot of people in this space right now are sending - trying to help everybody in kind of this arena.

SIMON: Clinton Martin, assistant athletic performance coach at UT, Austin. Hook 'em Horns. Thanks very much.

MARTIN: Awesome, thank you. Glad to be here.


BLACK EYED PEAS: (Singing) We coo coo in here. Let's get coo coo. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.