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Exercise is a key part of staying both physically and mentally healthy during the best of times. However, while we’re all confined to our houses, it’s even more important.
As much of the world continues to battle COVID-19, shelter in place orders are still in effect, and gyms and other recreational facilities remain closed, people’s normal exercise routines have been disrupted. It’s easy to tell yourself to skip exercise today while sheltering at home and even easier for it to slip your mind as everyone’s routines have been affected by this pandemic. When working from home, it’s easy to get too comfortable and not realize that you haven’t been exercising at all. Public health officials have been reminding us that exercise during these times is essential for both physical and mental health.
Firstly, why is exercise so important during the pandemic?
- Exercise has been proven to improve a person’s mood and in adults can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
- A lot of people don’t realize that exercise is good for the immune system. This may help boost your body’s response to fighting infections, such as COVID-19.
- Regular exercise helps you fall asleep quicker and have better quality sleep.
- It can make you feel good about yourself, which is something we all need during this pandemic. Any small piece of positivity goes a long way.
- It helps you to set a routine for yourself. For example, exercising for half an hour every day at the same time, not only helps with fitness and health but gives you a sense of normalcy while everything is so uncertain.
- Finally, it helps to reduce weight gain, heart disease, and other weight-related conditions. This is especially important as most of us aren’t traveling to work or moving around as much as we were prior to the pandemic.
So how has the COVID-19 pandemic affected our ability to exercise? Aside from the obvious closures of gyms and fitness studios. Parks, beaches, and other public places that people could use to exercise have also been closed. Not only that but maintaining a safe distance of 6′ from other people can prove to be a challenge for those who want to exercise outside.
Not only has the pandemic affected our ability to exercise and be generally active, but it may also affect the way we eat.
As people continue to remain indoors and reduce trips to the grocery store, they may avoid buying fresh foods that can perish and instead opt for foods with a long shelf life, which often have a high caloric count. As well as this, spending increased time at home can lead to mental distress and lead to people seeking “comfort foods,” in order to feel more satisfied with the situation.
So how can people remain active during the pandemic? Many people have taken to walking/running early in the morning or in the late afternoon when there are fewer people around, and as we move through summer, when it’s not so hot. There’s also been a recent trend on social media, where every day for 25 days you do 25 pushups. For each day you also nominate a different person to participate in the challenge, which is aimed at raising awareness for mental health, as well as setting a goal for daily exercise.
This kind of community initiative helps bring a sense of togetherness while we’re all separated while aiming for a common goal.
Many people have also taken to yoga while at home and following along to exercise videos, of which there is an abundance of on platforms like YouTube, that anyone can access for free.
Being active with members of your family who you live with is also a great way to be motivated as you can all work together towards a common goal. Not only that, but it is easy to lose motivation as you progress through workout routines. Having other people to support you, helps to overcome this and keeps you on track. It also helps to curb the spread of COVID-19, as you are only interacting with people in your household.
If you want to work out with friends who aren’t part of your household, consider working out together over video chat apps like Zoom, Skype, or Facebook video. This not only has the same benefits of working out with family but also helps to keep you social, which is key to maintaining a healthy state of mind. Many people report that not seeing friends is a large contributor to poor moods during the pandemic.
If you must see your friends face to face, remember to wear a face mask and maintain a distance of at least 6′. While this may be uncomfortable while exercising and breathing heavily, contracting the virus is not worth the comfort that not wearing a mask provides.
Consider taking walks with other people, which is a far less intensive work out than say running or other on the spot workouts. This will allow you to socialize while also comfortably wearing a mask and remaining socially distant.
While it may take effort to begin a new exercise routine or to maintain one that’s been disrupted, both the physical and mental benefits make it crucial to surviving this pandemic as healthy as possible.