The benefits of physical activity are no secret. Not only does exercise reduce the risk of chronic diseases, help maintain a healthy body weight, promote mobility, and increase strength, it’s also extremely beneficial towards mental health. Regular exercise can help reduce stress, improve sleep and boost your mood by releasing feel-good endorphins into your brain.
In the midst of a pandemic such as COVID-19, it’s important to maintain a routine involving regular physical activity to keep your mind and body healthy. However, with many of us quarantined to our homes our favourite activities may not currently be on the menu, and therefore it’s time to get creative. Here’s a list of recommendations on how to continue incorporating activity into your day.
Variety Be sure to incorporate a mix of cardio, strength training, and stretching in your workout plan, in order to keep things interesting and reap the full spectrum of health benefits. As a rule of thumb, cardio includes anything that causes you to sweat and breathe heavier than normal (think dancing, speed-walking, jumping jacks, etc.). Strength training involves exercises that build muscle (ie. squats, lunges, pushups), and can be done with your body weight or else made harder with weights or household objects. With any workout, be aware of your form and listen to your body in order to avoid injuries.
Online resources Yes, you can get fit for free! Many online workouts are available that do not require equipment, can be done at home, and include modified exercises for all fitness levels. Check Youtube for thousands of home workout ideas, or see if your local gym or yoga studio is offering online sessions through the pandemic. Many sites also offer written workout plans that you can follow or modify to make your own. Find something that you enjoy and you’ll be more likely to stick to it!
Virtual buddy system Enlist a friend, colleague, or family member to keep you accountable for your workouts. Studies show that we exercise for longer and improve our performance when we exercise with someone - try exercising together over video chat, or do a workout alongside your favorite online trainer. If video-chatting isn’t realistic for you, send each other your weekly exercise plans and keep in touch through phone or text to make sure you’re both on track.
Schedule, schedule, schedule! By scheduling workouts into your day, you’re making a commitment to your health and wellbeing. If you plan out the details of your workouts in advance (What will I do? When will I do it? For how long?) you remove barriers and are more likely to follow through. If needed, break workouts down into smaller segments. You’ll be surprised at what a 10-minute mini-workout or stretch can do for your mood!
Whatever activity you decide to schedule into your day, just remember to keep it varied, consistent, and fun. Your health will thank you for it!