During a pandemic like COVID-19, eating a balanced diet, exercising and getting good sleep is crucial for maintaining your physical and mental well-being. But social distancing complicates things. However, you don’t have to sacrifice your fitness just because you’re stuck at home.
Why is exercise important during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Regular exercise is essential for everyone under normal circumstances. However, here are a few reasons why exercise is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Exercise boosts the immune system: Research shows that regular, moderate-intensity exercise has immune-boosting benefits that may help your body fight off infections, including COVID-19.
- Exercise may prevent weight gain: Exercise can help you burn extra calories caused by dietary changes and offset the effects of sedentary activities.
- Exercise reduces stress and anxiety: Exercise is a proven mood-booster and can help adults reduce stress levels and build emotional resilience.
- Exercise improves sleep: There is evidence that suggests regular exercise helps you fall asleep faster and improves sleep quality — and getting a good night’s sleep has also been found to boost your immune system.
Exercise may be especially beneficial for older adults and people with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease. Regular exercise can help to improve balance, flexibility, strength, mobility, and cardiovascular health. Plus, it can boost energy and overall well-being.
In fact, there are plenty of ways to stay fit without breaking social distancing guidelines.
Here are a few ways to exercise at home:
- Spend a few minutes stretching in the morning
- Make sure you’re stretching before and after every workout.
- Get some outdoor time every day
- Do home workout videos via the internet, mobile apps, or other at-home video programs
- Walking: Get steps in and stay fit by walking around the house and/or walking up and down the stairs
- Get up out of your chair each and every hour
- Create your own fitness regime and stick to a schedule
- Do cardio activity around your neighborhood by walking, jogging, running, riding a bike, or doing whichever aerobic activities you enjoy
Even when you aren’t able to leave the house, you can still find ways to stay fit. Setting goals for yourself and finding things you enjoy will make the whole process easier.
Work Strength Training into Your Home Workout
When you’re planning your home workout to stay fit, be sure you’re working in at least 3-5 days of strength training as well. Designate days to focus on certain muscle groups, such as back/shoulders, biceps/triceps, and legs/lower body.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your diet is incredibly important when you’re trying to stay fit. If you’re getting less physical activity than you’re used to, avoid overeating or loading up on sugar and simple carbohydrates. Instead, plan out a healthy diet of fresh, unprocessed foods that will help you feel good while you’re trying to stay fit.
Staying Fit During Self-Quarantine
While you’re in self-quarantine, it can be really difficult to keep up with your normal fitness routine. However, there are lots of ways to stay fit, even when you can’t leave the house.
How much exercise a week?
World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendations on the amount of Physical Activity people should do.
- Infants under the age of 1 year need to be physically active several times a day.
- Children under 5 years of age: should spend at least 180 minutes a day in physical activities, with 3-4 year-olds being moderately or vigorously active for an hour a day.
- Children and adolescents aged 5-17years: all children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity, including activities that strengthen muscle and bone, at least 3 days per week.
- Adults aged 18 years and over:
- Should do a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, including muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days per week.
- Older adults with poor mobility should do physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
But any physical activity is better than none. Start with small amounts and gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity over time.
Being active during the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging for us all. Because the opportunities to be physically active seem to be more restricted, it is even more important to plan in every day the ways to be active and to reduce the time spent sitting for long periods. Put simply, it is a critical time to ensure we all move more and sit less.
How can I stay safe?
Do not exercise if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing. Stay home and rest, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
If you are able to go for a walk or bicycle ride always practice physical distancing and wash your hands with water and soap before you leave, when you get to where you are going, and as soon as you get home. If water and soap are not immediately available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
If you go to a park or public open space to walk, run or exercise always practice physical distancing and wash your hands with water and soap, before you leave, when you get to where you are going, and as soon as you get home. If water and soap are not immediately available, use an alcohol-based hand rub. Follow the directions of your local health authority in regards to any restrictions on the number of people with you and/or restrictions on the use of public outdoor play or exercise equipment.
If you are not regularly active start slowly and with low-intensity activities, like walking and low-impact exercises. Start with shorter amounts, like 5-10 minutes, and gradually build up to 30 minutes or more continuously over a few weeks. It is better and safer to be active for short periods more frequently than to try and be active for long periods when you are not used to it.
Choose the right activity so that you reduce the risk of injury and that you enjoy the activity. Choose the right intensity according to your health status and fitness level. You should be able to breathe comfortably and hold a conversation while you do light- and moderate-intensity physical activity.