Coronavirus has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, and many of us are working—and doing everything else—from home. In some cities, it’s been legally mandated to shelter in place, and that means no dining out and no working out—not in the gym, anyway.
This global pandemic is causing widespread stress and panic, which can impact our mental well-being, even if we remain physically healthy. That’s why it’s important to continue our fitness routines as much as possible, even if we don’t have access to our preferred spot.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.” In fact, “Studies have shown that exercise can have far better perks than beefing up your quads,” said Esquire. “It can be an effective tool when it comes to battling mental health issues."
Specifically, exercise can:
- Increase endorphins. “Physical activity helps bump up the production of your brain's feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins,” they said.
- Take your mind off your problems. “You'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements.”
- Boost your mood. “Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety.”
So how do you concentrate on your physical and mental fitness without hitting the gym? We’ve got tips.
Check with your gym or trainer
A lot of gyms and fitness instructors/trainers are livestreaming classes, starting YouTube channels, and offering on demand classes. It might not be the same as being in the room, but every little bit helps when it comes to keeping up your fitness level, which can also help you keep your spirits up.
Go for a run
You know that “runner’s high” everyone talks about? Turns out it may actually be a real thing. “How does moving the body change the mind? A growing body of work—both in the lab and with patients—shows that there’s more to it than endorphins, the well-known opioid the body produces during certain activities, including exercise,” said Runner’s World. “The emerging, more sophisticated view of running to improve mental health also takes into account long-term structural changes in the brain as well as subjective states like mood and cognition."
As verywell fit explains, “Jogging and running are aerobic cardiovascular exercises. Such activity sends more nourishing blood to the brain, which can help you think more clearly. It also releases your natural mood-elevating compounds. That ‘runner’s high’ triggers feel-good emotions that can boost your mood and reduce stress. Researchers believe that these positive feelings happen because running triggers the release of endorphins. Using brain imaging, researchers have shown that a long-distance run increased opioid binding throughout several areas of the brain, which resulted in participants feeling a subjective sense of euphoria.”
Please remember, when running outside, practice social distancing.
Take up yoga
This is a great time to expand your fitness options to include a practice that is widely believed to be beneficial for the body and mind. Yoga is a “fitness approach that improves your flexibility and enhances your muscle and bone health,” said Thrive Global. In addition, it is “a great way to deal with mental problems like stress and anxiety. If you perform it daily without fail, you will experience a vast reduction in your stress and anxiety levels.” The practice of yoga can also help “control your blood pressure naturally by minimizing nervous system activity and by offer relaxation to your body.”
Use what you’ve got
Hopefully, you already have weights in the house, as well as some other basics like a yoga mat, resistance bands, and a jump rope. If you’re lacking a few of these items, you may not have an opportunity to get to a store to pick up equipment. In a pinch, you can use some household items.
Grab that gallon water bottle and get in an arm workout. A sturdy chair can be used for exercises like tricep dips, and a jug of laundry detergent makes a mighty fine kettlebell.
“One person’s towel is another person’s resistance band! Use a towel to help with stretching or for a killer arm workout,” said Reader’s Digest. “Looking for a leg challenge? On a smooth floor, assume the plank position with a small towel under each of your feet. Then, in a very slow and controlled manner, try gliding your legs apart and then back together again. Feel the burn!”
“Before there were Valslides or glider discs, there were paper plates,” said verywell fit. “And frankly, they're just as good. If you're exercising on a carpeted or smooth surface, and you're looking to increase muscle engagement while performing standard body weight exercises, grab a couple of paper plates and put them to work. For instance, you can make lunges more difficult by placing your front foot on a paper plate before doing a forward lunge. The paper plate reduces friction between the floor and your foot, so instead of stepping forward into the lunge, you can slide the paper plate forward across the floor before sliding it back again as you return to the starting position. Controlling this sliding motion is challenging, so be sure to take it slow and steady!”
Climb those stairs
“Use the stairs as a cardio machine,” said Bicycling. “A set of stairs is the perfect place for a quick cardio hit. Regularly walking up 400 steps—or about 33 flights—during the course of a day can substantially increase your endurance, giving you a 17 percent bump in VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen you can take in during exercise), according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.”
Take up boxing
Boxing requires “a high level of athletic prowess: strength, speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, endurance, nerve, and power,” said MoneyCrashers. “It’s a great outlet for stress for two reasons: First, during a boxing workout you typically transition between high intensity bouts of exercise and moderate intensity recovery periods. When you’re pushing yourself through a couple minutes of high-intensity punching or kicking, you don’t have much mental power left to worry. And even during rest periods, you’ll be focused on sucking wind and mentally preparing for the next round. Second, there’s an incredibly cathartic release when you get to take some of your stress out on a punching bag. It’s an empowering feeling to punch your stress to smithereens.”
Add a supplement
A protein powder like 100% BIO-ACTIVE WHEY™ can help keep you on track, and tastes great at the same time. Add a scoop of Vanilla Swirl or Chocolate Sensation to a glass of skim milk for 25 grams of high-quality whey protein fortified with BIO-GRO Bio-Active Peptides and no amino spiking.
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