Whether you’re a fitness fanatic without a gym during the COVID-19 closures, or you’re craving a healthy quarantine routine, maintaining or adopting an active lifestyle can help in many important ways.
“Exercise is essential to your physical and mental health, plus studies show it can boost your immune system system,” said Shelly Massingale, administrative director for Banner Sports Medicine. “The National Institutes of Health has also reported that physical activity may help flush bacteria out of lungs and airways possibly reducing your chance of getting a cold, flu, or other illness.”
With COVID-19 taking center stage it’s important you take advantage of your body’s own feel-good hormones. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Massingale explains that endorphins interact with receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, which can help to reduce stress.
“We know that people who exercise regularly have lower levels of stress hormones in the blood, and there's a definite link between low levels of stress hormones and improved immunity,” Massingale said.
Maintain Your Fitness Level
For experienced exercisers, consider activities that help you maintain your fitness level. Switching up your normal workouts can be beneficial. Many fitness and streaming companies are offering free or reduced cost workout classes online. Social media also provides live, virtual workouts with an instructor.
“Many of these social media options focus on using household items to assist with a workout,” Massingale said. “For example, if you want to do some light weight training, you can use cans or milk containers as small weights.”
Yoga is known as one of the best stress reducing activities and can also be done through online or social media platforms.
If you’re a beginner, and your doctor is supportive of you trying new physical activities, keep in mind something as simple as walking can help improve cardiovascular fitness and your mood. Social distancing doesn’t prevent you from taking a walk or a run in your neighborhood.
“For those working from home, it is important to get up every hour and walk around the house,” Massingale said. “Taking a 10-15-minute walk in the neighborhood multiple times throughout the day will help to clear your mind and improve your ability to handle stress.”
Even hiking a local trail can be a good way to help build endurance, just be sure you prepare for the weather, wear sunscreen and have enough water on hand.
Keeping Your Kids Active
If you’re self-isolated with kids, they can also take positive cues from seeing their parents engage in exercise. Getting kiddos involved will also help alleviate pent-up energy they have from being contained at home.
Think about a vigorous game of tag in the back yard, a family bike ride or a game of hide and seek to keep the kids moving. You can go for a walk or even use toys as weights for strength training. Make it fun and the benefits and habit can last long after social distancing recommendations have been lifted.