You don’t need me to explain why regular exercise benefits your health and well-being. The list of positive gains for those who work out daily is abundant and supported by evidence-based scientific research.
However, I want to share why exercise during the current COVID-19 crisis is more essential than ever.
Your thoughts and approach to exercise during this time will depend on where your relationship with exercise was pre-pandemic.
If you are a life-long exerciser, you might be missing your regular routine and worrying about a decrease in your fitness level due to “stay-at-home” orders. Or perhaps you’ve become creative in finding ways to keep up your fitness capacity, even if it has meant altering your routine.
If you struggled to consistently work out in the past, especially if finding the time to do so was your issue, you may think this is the perfect opportunity to get in shape. After all, you have probably gained innumerable hours that used to be spent commuting, carpooling, and attending social obligations. Not to mention the hours we all fill running around doing chores.
However, if you find yourself less than motivated to exercise, here are six reasons why a regular workout routine may be more critical than ever right now.
- Exercise reduces stress and anxiety. Managing your feelings during these difficult days is challenging. A good workout boosts your mood and improves your ability to handle your emotions.
- Exercise allows you to put the pause button on worry and fear. Whether working out to upbeat music, focusing on following along with an online video, or listening to a great book or podcast, your mind will shift away from the coronavirus crisis. We all need to do that several times a day.
- Exercise helps you fall asleep more easily and get better quality sleep. At a time when sleep disturbance is a frequent side-effect of the times we are living in, stacking the sleep cards in your favor is crucial.
- Exercise boosts your immune system. Along with washing our hands, not touching our faces, and keeping social distance, we must do everything possible to support a healthy immune system. The more consistent you are with daily activity, nutritious eating, and getting the sleep you need (see #3 above), the more proactive you will feel.
- Exercise can create some structure to your day. We have all been thrown into a “new norm” that feels uncomfortable and confusing. Try scheduling a daily workout first thing in the morning or at the end of your work hours. Planning exercise will create a more comfortable rhythm to your day.
- Exercise can infuse some fun and adventure into your days. So many fitness professionals and companies offer free online classes (see some options below). If you own a Fitbit, go online and enter step competitions with others. Try an activity you’ve never done before (hello yoga or meditation?). Dust off that expensive home equipment you bought years ago. Walk and explore areas of your neighborhood you’ve only driven through before.
Please note, if you are not feeling well, exhibiting any signs or symptoms of the virus, or have tested positive, this is not the time to exercise. What you need is rest, fluids, medicine if prescribed, and to follow your doctor’s orders.
If you have never exercised consistently or haven’t done so for years, this isn’t the time to embark on HIIT routines or push beyond your limits. Begin with gentle walking, yoga, or a stretching program. However, if you have pre-existing medical conditions or concerns, you might want to consult your healthcare provider before starting a new routine.
Here are some fantastic resources that will hopefully get you inspired and keep you motivated.
Nobody wanted this insanity we are living through. In no way do I mean to diminish the severity and seriousness of the current crisis. However, even in the worst of times, unexpected opportunities present themselves. Don’t ignore them.
The COVID-19 crisis is testing our strength like nothing any of us have ever experienced before. Exercise builds our discipline and resiliency, both physically and mentally. Use this time wisely, and when this crisis passes, you will stand stronger than ever.
Stay well, stay healthy, and stay safe. Stay home!