Exercise may not be top of mind when you’re juggling conference calls from your kitchen or homeschooling your kids. Whether you’re social distancing or sheltering in place, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has dramatically changed our daily routines.
Not only is it important to stay physically healthy during times of stress, but taking care of our emotional and mental health is just as crucial — and exercise can help improve both.
“One of the most important benefits of exercise right now is how it helps boost your immune system,” says Jolene Noel, operations manager for the Rush Fitness Center and certified fitness professional.
“The good news is, you don’t need a lot of space to move — for instance, jumping jacks and marching in place not only benefit the body but improve our mood and sense of accomplishment, especially during times of stress.”
Take advantage of free virtual workout classes.
Let the exercise come to you. Many fitness companies are offering free virtual classes and resources to access from anywhere, at any time.
Nike now offers their Nike Training Club Premium service for free, with nearly 200 streaming workouts and tips from Nike’s own experts. Orangetheory Fitness offers free 30-minute workouts every day, while Peloton offers a free 90-day trial, including virtual strength training and yoga classes — not requiring a Peloton treadmill or bike.
Need a hand with strength training at home? Noel suggests using milk cartons, soup cans or water bottles to add a little weight lifting into your routine.
Never underestimate the power of stretching.
One nice thing about stretching is you don’t need much space to do it. At-home yoga or even simple stretches can relieve muscle tension and help realign your posture. Get creative: Noel suggests using a belt, tie, towel or other household items to help stretch out.
For individuals working at a home desk all day, try some simple stretches to open up your chest and back: Stand straight and lean down to touch your toes, or link your hands behind your back and bend over to elongate your spine.
Another stretch for improving posture is the shoulder roll: Sit or stand comfortably. As you inhale, raise your shoulders to your ears. As you exhale, pull your shoulder blades down and together. Do this five or 10 times in a row, a few times a day.
A 150-pound person can burn 95 calories dancing for just 15 minutes — that's four to five songs.
You’re never too old to rock out.
It's no secret that professional dancers are in incredible shape, but you don't have to be a pro to reap the health benefits of dancing. Turn on those guilty pleasure tunes or livestream one of the countless free concerts on social media — and dance.
A 150-pound person can burn 95 calories dancing for just 15 minutes — that's four to five songs — and it’s one of the greatest (and most enjoyable) stress-relieving activities.
Find peace in the present moment.
It can be difficult to get out of your own head when you can barely get out of the house. Meditation helps clear the mind and promotes full-body relaxation.
“Challenges are always going to be there,” says Noel. “It comes down to our coping mechanisms and how we handle these stressors. Meditation can help compartmentalize the many different stimuli coming at us right now and in the future.”