How to keep up your exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic
It’s especially important to exercise now
Home isolation might be a fact of life for many of us at the moment, and even if you’re not in isolation, chances are your sport has been cancelled, your competitions postponed, or your gym or public pool temporarily closed. However, just because you might be staying at home doesn’t mean you have to stop exercising.
One of the best things you can do during a health crisis such as this is to stay physically active. This helps build up and strengthen your immune system, as well as helping your mental health. Yes, your sport or means of exercise may be cancelled or limited, but there’s still plenty of ways to stay fit, strong and agile and to keep up your skills.
Exercise for your mental health
In this current stressful environment, it’s important to keep your anxiety in check as much as possible. Exercise may be more important than ever now in reducing anxiety and boosting people’s mental health.
Physical activity is highly effective in improving your mood and stress levels, with studies indicating that the release of dopamine and endorphins during exercise leads to a more relaxed state of being. And what’s more, exercise has an immediate effect on your mood. It’s going to be far better for your mental health to do some exercise rather than constantly watching the latest Coronavirus updates on the news.
Routine is also a key to staying mentally healthy, and many people will struggle if their usual routine falls apart. Even if you can’t participate in your normal sporting activity, you can still maintain that exercise routine. If you usually have training on two afternoons a week, use that time to go for a walk or run instead. This will prevent you falling out of routine during this difficult time, and make it easier to get back into your usual routine once Coronavirus restrictions have lifted.
There’s a lot we can’t control at the moment, but our levels of physical activity are one thing we can control – and keeping active will definitely make you feel better.
Read more about why exercise is the best antidepressant here.
Now is not the time to be doing a lot of partner work or playing in close contact team sports. However, use this time as an opportunity to branch out and try something new. Try exercising on your own, and enjoy the peace and quiet and the opportunity to reflect. Put in your headphones, listen to some motivating music, an inspiring or educational podcast, or even an audiobook, and use the time wisely. Or just listen to the sounds around you and use the chance to focus more on your technique.
Get into the great outdoors
Social distancing is key at the moment, so it might be a wise idea to take your workout outside where there’s fewer people crowded into small areas. There’s so many things you can do outside, and exercising in the great outdoors can make you feel happier and less stressed. It’s great to disconnect from the world and be surrounded by nature, even if it is just your local park. You’ll feel energised and enthusiastic after an outdoor workout, and you can enjoy the space and fresh air as well. Plus, it feels less routine, which helps keep your exercise program interesting. Go for a walk or run, or grab some mates and play a game of some kind (keeping your distance of course), or just do a bodyweight workout at the park, involving exercises such as push ups, squats, lunges, crunches and dips. You’ll probably enjoy the change of location, scenery and weather.
Discover more great reasons to get outside to get fit here.
Take an online class
There are countless resources online for exercise classes, workouts and sessions – it’s just a matter of choosing which one you want to do. Follow along with the instructor from the comfort of your own home – you can even do it in pyjamas if you like! You can turn any environment into a workout space, so there’s no excuses not to keep on exercising. You may even discover new activities, practices or exercises that you really enjoy and benefit from – so take this chance to try something you haven’t tried before or wouldn’t normally do. If you don’t enjoy it, just turn it off and try something else.
Play sport with caution
If your sport is still going ahead, keep playing, but keep these tips in mind:
- Sanitise equipment before and after use
- Don’t share equipment with teammates
- Maintain social distancing – no high fives, fist bumps, handshakes or hugs
- Avoid touching your face while playing sport
Consider sports like tennis, squash, athletics or weightlifting, where there’s not a lot of touching of either people or equipment, and it’s easy to maintain your distance.
Find out why tennis is a great sport to choose here.
Use gyms wisely
Staying fit has definitely become a little trickier at the moment. If your gym has remained open (and many currently have), there’s no reason you should avoid going there. Keeping fit remains important, and as long as you are not unwell, it’s still considered ‘low risk’ to go to the gym. Most gyms have stepped up their cleaning routine and sanitisation of equipment to help keep members safe and healthy. If going to the gym, make sure you follow these guidelines:
- Sanitise equipment (including weights, bars and machines) both before and after use
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after your workout, and avoid touching your face during the workout
- Try not to share weights or equipment with others during classes
- Although Coronavirus is not spread through sweat, always use a towel on mats and equipment
- Maintain a safe distance between yourself and other people and avoid touching
- Consider taking your PT session to a nearby park to help maintain social distancing
- If possible, choose less crowded times of the day to visit the gym
If you are at all unwell however, don’t go to the gym. Get tested and self-isolate if necessary, and notify your gym if you’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 so they can take steps to keep other members safe.
Find plenty of ways to find your 30 minutes of exercise a day here.
Get active with your kids
If schools are closed and you’re staying at home with your children much more, now is a great time to build healthy physical activity habits into their lives. There’s only so much Netflix you can watch – far better to use this time to get outside and play some active games with them. Play some backyard soccer or cricket, or even a good old-fashioned game of tag – even active indoor games like twister could be fun. Your children will enjoy getting active with you, and it will benefit their health as well.
Whatever you do, don’t stop exercising or playing sport. It’s probably just about the best thing you can do right now.