Staying Active During the Pandemic: Part 2


Quote the Raven: Ana Hill

Ana Hill

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone in all aspects of life, including the ability to exercise and stay active. With gyms, fitness centers, exercise classes and most public facilities remaining closed or heavily restricted, keeping to a normal fitness routine is more challenging now than ever. In addition, online classes and remote work makes it very easy to fall into a routine of inactivity and bad habits – that includes not getting enough physical activity.

Why is Physical Activity Important?

Staying physically active is important to all aspects of health, both physical and mental. The most obvious of the two may be how staying physically active helps physical health such as improving cardiac health, insulin levels, weight control, energy and preventing the majority of health conditions.  Having regular daily physical activity is a big contributor to improving cardiac health and reducing the risk of heart disease. This happens by improving your circulation and raising blood flow and oxygen levels in your body. Staying physically active also helps to lower your blood insulin levels and reduce the risk of different metabolic conditions, including type 2 diabetes. Physical activity also helps to reduce the risks of many different chronic health conditions, some examples are high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, stroke, obesity and many more. Overall, physically activity even for a short period every day is crucial to maintaining and improving health.

As it was mentioned, physical activity is also key to maintaining good mental health. Physical activity can reduce anxiety, depression and stress, as well as boost mood and self-esteem. Regular exercise and physical activity are seen to help with depression by releasing endorphins that boost energy and create a sense of wellbeing. Physical activity also helps with reducing anxiety and stress levels by releasing those same endorphins that help to relieve tension, stress and enhance wellbeing. Once again, physical activity is proven to be a very key factor to maintaining good health in both aspects of physical as well as mental health. Although this pandemic may be a difficult time to maintain physical activity, especially as we approach the winter months, it is important to try to incorporate small amounts into your everyday routines. Below is some tips and ideas on how to easily incorporate physical fitness and activity into your busy everyday lives.

5 Ways to Stay Physically Active During the Pandemic

  1. Get outdoors as much as possible. Since most gyms and public facilities are closed or have restricted access, it is a good idea to get outdoors as much as possible for physical activity. There are a number of different outdoor activities that can be done that promote activity while also maintaining social distancing and public health guidelines. Even as the weather gets cooler and winter approaches, going for walks or hikes outdoors is a good way to stay distanced and remain physically active.
  1. Use virtual fitness classes or online instructional videos. Currently with social distancing and public health guidelines, it is not recommended to attend fitness classes or groups where there will be people outside your bubble. However, online fitness classes and instructional videos are a good substitute. Online fitness classes and videos allow you to try something new from the comfort of your own home while also staying safe and following public health guidelines. Carleton Athletics is also offering group online fitness classes during the pandemic!
  1. Make an exercise plan that works for you and your schedule. Many people may find they are too busy or have too much on their plate to exercise or stay physically active, however as mentioned above, it is very important that you do incorporate physical activity in your everyday schedules. Just like you may plan your day of school work or classes ahead of time, one way to make sure you are keeping active is to schedule a time every day that is dedicated to some type of physical activity, whether that be stretches, walking, yoga, or a quick exercise video. Scheduling may help keep you on track to maintain better physical activity and overall health.
  1. Try a new or unfamiliar type of physical activity (with social distancing). This pandemic has been the perfect time to try all sorts of new things – including physical activities, such as yoga, pilates, hiking or running. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! With the snow coming soon, it creates the opportunity for several other outdoor activities, perfect for social distancing, that you maybe would have never thought of before such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating or tobogganing.
  1. Take walk/stretch breaks between online classes and work. Work and classes can be overwhelming and busy. However, incorporating frequent breaks in your schedule can reduce stress and improve your mental state. Taking a break after a long class to stretch or go for a walk around the block may seem very small, but can support your physical activity and improve wellbeing. Taking this small break can also improve your focus and productivity when you sit back down and continue with your work.

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