During this time of stress and unknown it is natural to want to lock yourself up, have takeaway food delivered and binge on Netflix all day. However, it’s critical that we try maintain our daily structure during these challenging coming months as best as possible by sticking to our normal structure of eating and activity. Not only is activity critical for our physical and mental health, but research shows that exercise can support our immune system.
COVID-19 is a new virus so currently we are unaware of the perfect management, however evidence shows that leading a physical active lifestyle reduces incidence of viral infections. While gyms and pools are shutting down around the world, that’s no excuse for stopping your exercise habits. Below are some examples of what you can do to stay active and feel better, both physically and mentally:
- Getting outside – run or ride outside, or carry out exercises in your backyard or on your back deck. Exercising outside should be safe provided you appropriately distance yourself and avoid the crowded places. Run with friends but ensure you keep a minimum 1.5 metre distance. Use this as an opportunity to find new running routes or set a goal such as running the furthest distance you have run before or ride a mountain you haven’t ridden before (provided it’s a gradual build of intensity/distance).
- Ride/run indoors – quality training can still be carried out on the wind trainer and treadmill from your home and with the addition of apps such as Zwift you can do these virtually with your friends to get the social and competitive aspect too. Due to being able to control the intensity, not being impacted by weather and not having to stop for traffic lights or flat tyres etc., you can achieve high quality sessions.
- Strength exercise – you almost certainly won’t be able to go to a gym but you can still carry out resistance exercise from home. You can start with body weight exercises such as single leg squats, lunges and push ups. Then progress to some hand weights, dumbbells and/or barbells; carrying out chest press, weighted squats and lunges. Add higher intensity exercise such as box jumps (or you can use steps or milk crates) and skipping.
- Take advantage of virtual socialising – in this highly advanced technological world, there are countless ways we can keep in touch with friends and teammates virtually. Carry out a strength program with a friend via skype or FaceTime, or compete against friends such as seeing who can do the longest plank or squat hold.
- Freshen up your program – use this as an opportunity to try something new or return to something you stopped doing. Trial some online yoga or pilates class, or HIIT sessions.
- Focus on the mental health benefits – use exercise as a chance to escape the stressful environment. Get outside where you can and do some exercise, focusing on how much better you feel during and after the exercise.