This year has been filled with uncertainties to say the least. One thing that we need to control is our health, now more than ever. Mental, emotional and physical health all contribute to our well being. Exercise plays an important role in all three of these aspects. This is why even during this pandemic we should still be exercising.
Mental and emotional health go hand-in-hand with exercise. It reduces the body’s stress hormones by stimulating production of chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural pain killers and mood elevators. In the words of Elle Woods, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t kill their husbands, they just don’t.” Obviously this is an extreme situation but it gets the point across.If you are feeling anxious, overwhelmed or helpless during the pandemic you are not alone and I would strongly encourage you to start exercising.
The physical health benefits of exercise are endless. Some of these benefits include lower risk of early death, coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, adverse blood lipid profile, type 2 diabetes, multiple cancers, can help increase bone density, improve sleep and boost the immune system. All of these are important but having a strong immune system is paramount during this pandemic. That benefit alone should encourage you to start exercising today!
How to Start Exercising
Right now you might not feel comfortable hopping in the car to go to the gym. Maybe you are not able to afford a monthly gym membership because you got laid off. Luckily for you, working out from home is an option! It is time to stop making excuses and make your health just as important as watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram! Here are some tips to help you still be active while being in quarantine.
First step is to make a “SMART” goal. This stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Utilizing this concept will help you attain your goals in a more manageable fashion and keep you on track. Having an accountability partner such as your partner, friend or family member can also help with staying on track. Exercising with someone else is also a great and safe activity (as long as you keep a safe distance) during quarantine.
The recommendation for an adult is at least 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity physical activity. If you are new to exercising or it has been awhile since your last workout, starting with 3, 10 minute bouts of physical activity is recommended. Focus on your weaknesses first then move on to your strengths.
Working out from home is definitely not ideal but is absolutely doable! I do not want to hear any excuses! Start off using your body weight and then add additional weight. If you did not get a chance to buy free weights before everyone else in the world did, household items are a great substitute! Try using canned goods, water bottles, milk jugs filled with water, a bag of dog food, or cat litter. Pretty much anything you can find will work! People who are working from home, balance your sitting time with standing and stretching to keep your muscles from getting tight. When you are watching television, exercise during the commercial breaks. On the weekends, play outside with your kids, walk the dog, garden, or mow the lawn. Put exercise on your daily schedule, have a reminder on your phone, or a sticky note by your bed. Anything that will help keep you accountable!
Starting a new habit is scary and hard so reward yourself when you’ve earned it. This does not mean go get ice cream and fries at the local diner! Treat yourself to a spa day, go get a massage, buy yourself a new outfit or maybe plan a weekend getaway! Be proud of your success and allow yourself to celebrate!