While the world-wide lockdowns of COVID-19 continue to keep us safe and healthy, many of us find ourselves at a disadvantage when it comes to finding ways to stay physically fit and active. Many public places that are considered “unessential” to daily life have shut down to practice social distancing, including gyms, pools, public parks and other recreational areas where we would normally go to get some human interaction or physical activity. Even people who don’t use the gym or parks daily are losing physical activity, since staying inside is key right now, meaning: No trips to the stores, no walking to work and no mingling with neighbors or others outside.
The Benefits of Exercise
Exercise has many health benefits, so it’s important to find ways to fit some physical activity into our days normally, as well as during this worrisome time. One huge benefit of exercising right now is that it can make you feel happier, according to Healthline.
It changes the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety by increasing brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, decreasing the feelings of depression and anxiety, which many people seem to be experiencing during COVID-19.
Other great benefits of exercise include: Aiding in weight loss; building your muscles and bones, possibly increasing longevity; increasing energy levels; reducing the risk of chronic disease; decreasing signs of aging; aiding in brain function and memory and thinking skills; increasing sleep quality; reducing chronic pain; and increasing sex drive.
Not exercising can have some pretty harsh consequences, according to The List. One of the biggest concerns is that you can become depressed and feel more stressed out. Other things that can occur if you don’t workout include: Gaining weight; slowing down your metabolism; dying at a younger age; weakening in your bones; becoming winded easily and craving junk foods.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity workouts or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity workouts per week, or a combination of both. CNN Health recommends “aiming for at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise each day plus strength training at least twice a week.”
So, while you may be feeling depressed or lethargic, try to resist the urge to stay in bed or on the couch all day and try these five ways to stay physically fit during quarantine.
Follow YouTube workout tutorials or playlists.
This is one of the easiest ways to feel encouraged by a virtual trainer and to stay on track, and with so many different YouTube trainers out there, it’s easy to find one you like.
YouTube features videos like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) videos, full-body workouts, arm-toning workouts, dance-workout videos, even videos targeting your booty. And, for those without any equipment at home, some videos are equipment-free.
For the past month, I've been following a 30-day-workout playlist by MadFit that I find doable since none of the videos are too long, and easy because most of the videos don't require any gym equipment.
I also enlisted the help of my best friend who lives in another state to do the videos with me, and we keep track of our progress through texting and photos. It's fun and gives me that extra boost I need every day to continue working from home, where I usually don't get very much exercise. I would recommend trying video tutorials with a buddy to stay physically fit during quarantine.
Go for a run or walk.
Going for a 30-minute run or walk is a great way to not only get some cardio in but also to safely get out of the house during quarantine. As long as you stay six to ten feet away from others, running and walking outside is a good option. If running is new to you, you can always download an app, such as Couch To 5K, which helps new runners build endurance.
I traveled home to Michigan to help out the family during quarantine, and we usually go for walks every other day. We walk through our neighborhood or take short drives to local parks that are still open to walk around. It's a great way to reconnect, relax and get a breath of fresh air. It's also a nice reminder that summertime is coming up, and it's a great way to get some vitamin D into your system.
Try standing while working.
If you’re one of the many people working from home these days, try standing up at your desk, or wherever it is you are working, to stay fit during quarantine.
According to Healthline, using a standing desk has lots of benefits, including lowering your risk of weight gain and obesity, lowering blood sugar levels and heart disease and reducing back pain, to name a few.
I am working from home during quarantine, and if I don't force myself to get up and move around, I find myself lying in my bed working. It usually results in me feeling more tired than I had when I originally work up and standing up while typing on my computer for a while makes me feel more energized and lively.
Take an online yoga class.
Yoga is a great way to relax and get exercise. Studies have shown that yoga can reduce cortisol levels and lower resting heart rate. The yogic breath (breathing technique used during yoga) also delivers air to the lower lungs which, according to Yoga Journal, hold the parasympathetic nerve receptors, which are responsible for calming the mind and recharging the body. Yoga can also help with PTSD symptoms, according to Everyday Health.
While I usually like to take YouTube video tutorials in the mornings or afternoons of my days at home during quarantine, I will oftentimes take an online yoga class at night. There are even yoga classes available on YouTube that are totally free; One of my favorites is Yoga With Adriene. She has yoga classes for everything from getting energized to relaxing to fall asleep (it involves pillows, and blankets and is awesome!).
Play with pets or children.
There aren’t many opportunities in this modern age to have an abundance of time at home to spend playing with your kids or pets. The world moves so quickly, and we’re surrounded by so many distractions, it’s hard to just take time to stop and enjoy the little moments and truly bond. Not only do we have more time for making positive memories together, but some extra energy from not spending hours of the day running around in traffic with work and errands.
One way to stay physically fit during quarantine is to run around the house with your children, playing games like hide-and-seek or tag, building a fort, or playing with your pets. Some studies show that playing with your pets can help make you feel better because it lowers blood pressure, reduce anxiety and decrease depression.
I have two cats and find that now that I'm home more often, I have the time to play with them that I didn't have before when my days were busy with work. It's great to reconnect with them.
There are so many ways to get out excess energy and stay active during quarantine, from taking a walk in nature to simply standing up while working. Just be sure not to get in a habit of slouching on the couch!
Any way you can think of to get your body moving and engage your mind is going to be best for you to keep balanced and healthy overall during COVID-19 times. Staying fit and active in order to manage stress levels along with mental and emotional clarity is also essential for keeping up the immune system! If you can think of more ways to stay physically fit during quarantine, comment below!