The importance of staying active during COVID-19
As many of our daily routines remain restricted during the coronavirus pandemic, it can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise. With the challenges of working from home and limited access to fitness facilities, you may be finding it hard to stick to a workout routine. You may be missing the camaraderie of the gym, the relaxation of swimming laps, or the social connection from walking or hiking with a group of friends. If you were used to attending a fitness class with a motivating instructor, you might be disappointed in the intensity of workouts on your own.
Maintaining an exercise routine at home can seem more like a ‘should’ than a ‘want to’ at the moment. And with so many people out of work and struggling financially, staying active can seem like much less of a priority. However, even a small amount of activity can make a huge difference in how well you think and feel. In fact, exercise is one of the most powerful tools we have for staying physically and mentally healthy.
Exercise can help ease depression, stress, and anxiety, and aid in the management of chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. By finding new ways to get moving and stay motivated, you can take charge of your mood and well-being and regain a sense of control during this time of great uncertainty.
Making an exercise plan that’ll keep you motivated
Whether you’re teaching your kids and working at home or you’re unemployed and worried about finances, this is likely not the time to undertake a challenging new fitness plan. Consider your energy levels (many people report fatigue from coronavirus-related stress), any ongoing health concerns, and the time you have available, then set reasonable goals focusing on activities you enjoy. You’re more likely to stick to an exercise plan if you start small, celebrate your successes, and build up gradually.
Prioritize your workouts. People who put their fitness activities on the same calendar as their regular appointments tend to stick to their plan. You wouldn’t cancel your appointment with your dentist because you were busy with work or just didn’t feel like it at that moment. Rather, you’d fulfill your obligation and then return to work afterward.
Workout at the time that’s right for you. Many people who maintain a long-term exercise program workout in the mornings. Completing your fitness routine in the morning can energize you and set a positive tone for the rest of the day. Others find it helpful to take a break from work and get moving in the afternoon when their energy is flagging. A burst of activity can stimulate the brain and help you push through the rest of the tasks on your to-do list.
Be specific in your goals—and track your workouts. Rather than aim to “get in better shape,” set a concrete goal such as “walk 30 minutes in the morning on Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday.” Try one of the many fitness trackers or smartphone apps available to keep a record of your progress—or simply use a calendar to note the length of your workout, distance, and effort level. Tracking your progress can help keep you accountable, provide a sense of accomplishment, and encourage you to keep going.
Say it out loud. Tell a friend what your goals and routines are or post about it on social media. You’re less likely to skip a session if you know your friends will be asking about how you got on. And if they give you positive feedback, it will give you a boost for your next session. Working out with a buddy can also help keep you on track. Set up regular times to exercise together—either at a social distance or on a phone or video call—and offer each other support and encouragement.
Source: Excerpts of this article were taken and originally published by Helpguide.org at https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/exercise-during-coronavirus.htm. It was authored by Shannon Collins, PT.