It’s Friday night. You’ve been working hard from home all week, but working tirelessly nonetheless. You get up from your office chair and suddenly it hits you like a wave of nausea… you haven’t done anything all week save for working, getting up to eat or use the bathroom, and then going to bed! Another work week spent at home in the midst of this COVID pandemic… another week gone by in the blink of an eye, and yet you didn’t make any time for your own fresh air, physical activity or fun time with friends & family…
This might not be a problem for you if you’re consistently at the gym, playing sports or have a physically demanding job, but for millions of people around the world the issue of “staying active at home” during COVID-19 restrictions can be an all-consuming problem. Pre-COVID, it was hard enough to find enough time in a day to get sufficient exercise. Today, in the midst of shutdowns, restrictions and quarantine measures it can seem impossible to upkeep your fitness during COVID.
Many people do their best to stay active in little ways like stretching, standing up frequently, walking around, doing physical chores or small bursts of physical exertion. However, many often wonder: is this enough to be healthy? What does it mean to stay active during quarantine? Can I even go for a run during quarantine? How much is too little exercise during COVID?
If you’ve ever pondered these questions or struggled with physical & mental issues brought on by the sudden need for isolation, you’re not alone. Stress, anxiety and depression have skyrocketed in relation to the kinds of protocols we’re suddenly forced to follow. Life is full of uncertainty as it is, but when we’re being asked to avoid seeing our loved ones, work from home and limit ourselves to essential interactions it’s no wonder that the collective human experience is becoming one of nervousness & frustration.
We’re all facing unprecedented societal & economic challenges now and for the foreseeable future, so there’s no point in trying to “wait this out”. If we’re going to get through this, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and commitment now or we’ll never get back to the way things used to be.
The same goes for our mental and physical wellbeing. If you don’t keep yourself active, exercise consistently, eat well and do your best to stay positive then overcoming a global flu pandemic could end up being the least of your worries. Physical activity is absolutely critical to your fitness, but it’s also very closely linked with your mental wellbeing.
Maybe you’ve never been the type of person who hits the gym? Perhaps you play sports for fun, but now that you’re not able to the same way you realize how important they are for your health & wellness? Or maybe you’re an avid fitness-freak, always working out or cycling miles a day, and yet you’re reduced to lower intensity training at home and you’re feeling lost? These tough times are changing the ways in which we consider ourselves to be active and what it means to exercise.
The COVID-19 pandemic is by no means nearly over, so we have to get used to the idea of working out at home, going for a run by yourself or engaging in solo sports & activities. No matter what type of “active person” you consider yourself to be, we all need to fill this void in the normalcy of life with as much structure and consistency as we can. If we dig deep, understand that this is only temporary but devote this time to improving our health & wellness, we’ll all come out of this pandemic better for it.
Let’s explore the ins-and-outs of staying active during quarantine. Although we can’t incorporate everyone’s unique circumstances into these suggestions, we’ll do our best to help you to figure out how to stay physically active.
WHY IS STAYING PHYSICALLY FIT SO IMPORTANT?
There are many different factors that play into how physically fit you look/feel, but we’ve organized them into the big 5 aspects of a physically active & healthy lifestyle. Why five? Well, it’s as easy as listing them off on your hand:
In a world where we’re being ordered to stay away from others, it can be extremely difficult to stay motivated to be active. For most people, being physically active is a social experience as much as it is about physical exertion. Even if you’re the type of person who prefers to work out by yourself, the rewards of succeeding as a group can outweigh your individual success. Succeeding together – such as in team sports, fitness classes or sharing your progress with others – can lead to greater feelings of accomplishment, enhanced learning or skill developments and lasting improvements to your mental & physical health.
What kinds of benefits are there to the social aspect of physical activity? Things like group thinking, strategies and goal setting can certainly help you raise the bar on your own fitness. Other benefits include challenging yourself to meet or exceed your peers, assisting or receiving enhanced knowledge/techniques and increasing your likelihood of sticking to your routines. There are many more advantages to group physical activity, but these concepts illustrate the main idea of “sharing experiences” that exists at the core of group exercise.
Staying physically fit is in essence a personal/individual matter, but it’s the journey we take to get there that can be greatly impacted by the people we surround ourselves with. This notion is certainly under fire in the midst of COVID-19 social distancing protocols.
It might seem counterintuitive to seek out physical activities with friends and family, but there are still plenty of ways to reap the benefits of cooperative exercise while remaining physically distant and safe. (We will talk about these kinds of safe workouts and exercises in the next section of this blog).
How easy it is to engage in a certain type of physical activity is also very important to your success. If you can’t be consistent in your efforts to stay physically fit, you’re likely losing progress or wasting what precious little time you have to hone your body & mind. Convenience seems to be the rule-of-law these days – if it doesn’t fit into everyone’s busy schedules, it must not be worth investing in.
Time is ultra precious, even these days while we’re stuck at home or limited to going out only shopping for essentials. This has never changed and it likely never will; time is THE only resource that can impact every single aspect of your daily life. Even if you’ve got a handle on your day-to-day, physical activity is often on the bottom of the pecking order whenever you have a shred of free time.
With all the things we encounter in our busy lives, time management and convenience factors will only continue to grow in importance. So, it goes without saying that staying active during quarantine is just as important when you’re back to your normal, hectic lifestyle. If we suddenly have a bunch of hours free where we’d normally be commuting, shopping or taking the kids to their own activities you might be tempted to just relax or unplug.
This isn’t a bad thing – in fact we covered the importance of staying calm, managing stress and finding enough energy to stay motivated in our previous blogs. Nevertheless, it bears repeating that it’s easy to fall into the ‘couchlock trap’ if you take too much time off from physical activity. As in all things, striking a balance between being active and relaxing is the true path to health & wellness.
What do you consider to be effective ways to stay active during quarantine? Here’s another area of great debate. Factors like comfort, difficulty, fitness goals and even genetics can influence how you work out – some people don’t even need to work out at all, preferring to play sports or simply walk to work for their daily dose of exercise.
Because success is very personal and even more variable, we’re not going to list “what are effective workouts” and what aren’t. Instead, we’ll ask you a few simple questions:
- What makes you feel good?
- What are your goals for how you want to look?
- Why do you enjoy certain activities over others?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you simply have to decide between two things: Are you happy with where you’re at? Or do you want to challenge yourself to reach new levels? This “red pill” & “blue pill” scenario really breaks everything down to the simple dichotomy of comfort vs challenge. Do you already look & feel great? Awesome, then whatever you’re doing might be just fine. Do you always wish you could run faster, farther, for longer? Then maybe it’s time to push yourself with a new routine.
These examples are meant to illustrate the duality of physical fitness in relation to our overall health. We could all use more fitness in our lives, no matter how in-shape or unhealthy we might seem. Fitness and physical health are a lifelong challenge – you can never reach the pinnacle of inscrutable physique, nor is any obesity problem or injury absolutely impossible to overcome. When you think of physical activity in this way, you can more clearly see that what you consider to be an effective exercise routine will evolve over time – as your goals, your health and your resources evolve in tandem.
So, what is an effective way to stay physically active? Whatever suits your current lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and change the way you exercise during coronavirus, but also don’t feel like you have to “fix” anything if it’s working for you.
After you’ve figured out if an activity is particularly rewarding and easy to be consistent with, you need to consider the overall costs. This can mean literal dollars for a membership fee, cost of time spent, or the investment of energy & effort you need to put into a particular activity.
Everything has a cost – most notably in time, money or energy, as we mentioned earlier – and our budgets of these resources are always shifting from the positive to the negative. Managing schedules, finances, nutrition and exercise are equally difficult in their own rights, but fitness & health seem to take back seats to the others whenever we encounter increased levels of stress.
Eating unhealthy because it’s cheaper, getting less exercise because you’re strapped for time or just not having enough energy & drive to do what you need to are very common problems. The same can be said today for our COVID-related realities: gym/recreation center closures, limited hours of access to public spaces like parks, or even financial uncertainty leading to major cuts to your budget or local businesses can make exercising during coronavirus a steep, uphill battle.
We all have different needs and varying resources to meet those needs, but our fitness during COVID should not fall victim to these circumstances. The cost of NOT getting exercise should always outweigh the price of a gym membership, or the time or energy needed to stay physically active.
It’s certainly understandable if you can’t afford to pay your gym membership dues, or can’t afford to invest in an entire home-workout system. However, what you CAN and MUST spend (no matter your situation) is the right amount of time, energy and effort to stay healthy by keeping active during these tough times. It’s not only essential to your health & wellbeing now, but being active and staying physically fit can contribute to your ability to ward off injuries & illnesses in the future. A fit body and active mind are conducive to a strong immune system, so it’s important to remember that the costs of staying active now can have very serious ramifications in the long run as well.
On top of all these aspects of your physical wellbeing there’s the big question: are you having fun?! Enjoyment and exercise might seem like they’re at opposite ends of the spectrum if you’re someone who doesn’t lead an active lifestyle. Nevertheless, there’s no denying the facts of activity vs sedentary behaviors – chilling out on the couch and playing video games is fun too, but being sick and struggling with health issues is not fun for anyone.
It’s definitely a good idea to push yourself whenever possible, but you also need to appreciate your own breaking points. You might think that you need to workout a certain amount of hours each day or commit to rigorous training routines in order to optimize your physical activity, but sometimes this can wear you out and lead to ‘fitness fatigue’.
Fitness fatigue is a very common occurrence and it comes in many different forms. For some, fitness fatigue can be as harmless as an inability to get out of bed at 5 am for your usual sunrise jog, or it can be as serious as a junk food & TV-binge bender. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the routine, monotony, physical or mental strain of exercise. Sometimes, people just lose interest with all the work they put into their fitness because they’re struggling to achieve their goals.
Regardless of why it happens, it happens to the best of us. To avoid losing faith in your workouts or sacrificing exercise for guilty-pleasures, it’s important to give yourself breaks and change things up if it’s no longer as enjoyable. There’s obviously a fine line between “giving up” because something is challenging and “moderating” your physical activity because you’re overwhelmed. So, pay close attention to what your body is telling you, stick to what is fun & rewarding, but always allow yourself time/space to reset when it seems like you’ve hit a wall.
There. We’ve explored the 5 aspects of staying physically active. Now that we’ve talked about “how to sail”, it’s time we chose a destination to set our sights to. It’s very important to understand and appreciate WHY physical activity is essential, so now let’s look at HOW you can stay physically fit during the constraints of COVID-19.
HOW TO STAY ACTIVE AT HOME OR IN ISOLATION
There are by no means only a handful of effective ways to exercise during COVID-19, but we think this magical list of 8 things to do to stay mentally sharp and physically active fits the bill for anyone facing self isolation. ‘The 8’ aren’t mutually exclusive, nor do they cover all the important areas of your health. Nevertheless, these 8 tips & tricks can help you to be more physically active, mentally stimulated and emotionally balanced – the trifecta for achieving good health & wellness during any time, let alone the constrained times we’re experiencing today.
The 8 ways to stay mentally sharp, physically active and feeling good are:
It’s no secret: fresh air, sunlight and the living environment of the great outdoors can be very positive for your health. If you’re going to workout, why not do it under a blue sky? Obviously, weather permitting, but don’t forget to take advantage of the benefits of fresh air & natural vitamin D whenever you can.
Exercise with people you trust (safely, of course)
Exercising in groups is a fantastic way to keep yourself motivated to be physically active. Since getting together with friends and family can be difficult – if not outright restricted for some people – we live in an age of convenient technologies. Prop up your phone, invest in a good webcam and do some hot yoga in your living room or lift some weights in your garage alongside your usual crew.
Set schedules, and stick to ‘em!
Consistency is the name of the game for achieving your fitness goals, but it’s also very integral to maintaining your physique and mental health. Human beings crave routines, rituals, schedules and consistency. So, be spontaneous with your physical activity if it pleases you but also stick to your plans for staying physically active.
It’s very common for people to push themselves too hard, too fast or for too long at the gym. Challenging yourself is an essential part of self improvement, and yet it can also be what derails you (especially in times of extra stress). There’s nothing wrong with taking a day off or giving yourself a break from physical activity – just make sure the breaks don’t become more important than the exercise itself.
Relaxation when balanced with activity in just the right way can actually improve your success. Always remember to stay calm, sleep well but be energized and driven at the same time.
Start small, then go big
Try to set realistic goals and focus on small things of your fitness first and then build up towards the bigger picture stuff. Simply put, it doesn’t do you any good to overdue it right off the hop. Target your workouts on specific areas of need, be consistent with your physical activities and challenge yourself as you build confidence/fitness.
Put your cleanliness into overdrive!
Sanitize. Sanitize. Sanitize. Even if you live alone, the more you keep your surroundings clean, organized and free of contaminants the better off you’ll be. Not much more to say about this than that – the future is a sanitized one.
Use what your momma gave ya
Body weight exercises – such as push-ups, pull-ups, ab crunches and stretching – are free, everyone can learn them, and you can do them on-demand anywhere. There are so many awesome ‘no equipment’ workouts on the internet these days, you can’t go wrong. Obviously, you’ll want to pick a workout or technique that suits your fitness level, comfort and confidence. Secondly, try to stick to “full body” workouts & activities as much as possible. Why not build up your entire body strength at the same time?
Engage with the online community!
Do lots of research, trial & error whatever interests you, and be sure to constantly update your repertoire of skills, techniques and know-how. An empowered mind begets a powerful body!
We made this helpful video for you too. Check it out for some more tips & tricks for staying physically active and maintaining your fitness during COVID.
LEARNING HOW TO STAY ACTIVE DURING QUARANTINE CAN IMPROVE YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH
Just remember, it’s okay to mess up, to fall by the wayside, and to struggle to stay physically active even in the best of times. We’re all human and we’re all in this global plight together. Even though we can’t necessarily physically stand side by side and prop each other up, we can work together to stay fit and mentally sound, and exercise is just one of the best ways to achieve these common goals.
Whenever you’re struggling to stick with it, just remember this helpful motto:
“To be consistent, you need to be committed
To build confidence, you need to develop patience
To learn how to succeed, you need to learn how to fail
To achieve your goals, you need to believe that you can”
Fitness, whether it’s physical or mental or even emotional wellness, is no different. When you spend the time & effort on yourself you’ll find that you’re better prepared to support others, so don’t forget to invest enough care in your own wellbeing so that you can be there for others when they need it too.
Good luck, stay active, keep being positive, and we’ll see you on the other side of these trying times.
How can one stay physically active during COVID-19 self-quarantine?
There are many ways to stay physically fit & active during COVID-19 restrictions, but the important thing is to engage in activities that suit your lifestyle, fitness goals and daily schedule. For some, going for a run at their favorite park is enough to stimulate their minds and get their blood pumping. For others, lifting weights at home or doing more rigorous physical exertion is key to feeling good. Others still prefer to focus on relaxing physical activity, such as yoga or meditation. It is not as important WHAT you do to stay physically active during self-quarantine but is instead crucial that you are consistent in doing so.
What are some suggestions to keep adults active during COVID-19 restrictions?
Staying physically fit in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions can seem tough but it’s actually quite easy to get some all-important exercise at home, at the office or in your neighborhood. Running, hiking and cycling are excellent cardio activities you can do virtually anywhere, by yourself and still maintain safe social distancing. Lifting weights, doing push-ups, pull-ups, crunches, or other home workout routines are also excellent ways to stay in good shape. There are also numerous sports you can engage in solo or with others in a safe manner – such as the golf driving range, kicking the soccer ball, shooting hoops, playing tennis, shooting pucks at an outdoor rink or pond, playing catch with baseballs or footballs, and hundreds more options. How you stay active is not as important as being consistently engaged, both physically and mentally as much as fits your lifestyle.
When should one self-quarantine?
According to health professionals, it is very important to engage in self-quarantine if you exhibit any cold/flu-like symptoms or if you have been knowingly in contact with someone who could potentially have the coronavirus. Although circumstances will differ, the average self-quarantine procedure is 14 days of self isolation.
Why is physical activity so important during COVID-19?
Physical activity is absolutely essential to your health, and even though we face very tough health crises from the coronavirus, letting yourself fall into patterns of inactivity can lead to exacerbated health problems in both the short- and long-term. Staying physically fit, mentally stimulated and emotionally stable are all linked to one another, but many people find that it’s the lack of physical activity that causes the most upheaval to their health & wellness. Sedentary behaviors, poor diets and a general lack of time spent outdoors, standing up or being physically active can lead to weight gain, cardiovascular diseases and very poor mental health conditions like depression & anxiety.
Can I go for a walk during self isolation?
Yes, unless your local government has instituted strict quarantines or curfews (which few places have), then it is safe to go outside and walk during self isolation. In fact, it is definitely recommended that we all get as much physical activity and fresh air as possible. As long as you are being safe, socially distancing yourself from others and taking all necessary precautions, going for a walk can be just what you need to get some exercise and stay positive in these tough times.