With the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to wash your hands, stay home unless it is essential, and maintain social distancing of six feet or more to keep each other healthy. Our every-day lives have changed significantly with the pandemic, but health being a priority has not changed. And, if your health has not been a priority, now is the time to change that. Immune health is heavily influenced by physical activity and it is possible to maintain physical activity, even during the pandemic.
Physical activity has been proven to boost the immune system, reduce stress and increase endorphins. Now, more than ever, it is important to strive for a positive attitude, fill boredom and achieve better health to persevere through the current situation. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends 150-300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and two sessions per week of muscle strength training. This is still achievable at home with a little creativity.
With the weather permitting, it is still safe to go outside. But remember, it is important to maintain six-foot plus distance from individuals outside of your household. A great way to achieve physical activity while social distancing is going for a bike ride. Another recommendation is to walk, hike or jog along suitable paths. If the paths are being utilized by other citizens, try to spread out at a safe distance until your paths have crossed. Gardening and yard work are other great ways to spend time outside and break a sweat. Time spent outdoors may enhance immune function.
If the weather is not cooperative for outside activity, it is very easy to stay active indoors. Turning on some music to create an uplifting mood is encouraged, create an “obstacle course” or simply participate in a brisk walk through your house. Challenge yourself daily on the pace and number of laps to increase the eagerness. Make it fun. Jump roping, online workout videos and yoga are also great ways to achieve the suggested amount of physical activity. Strength training is achievable indoors as well. This includes lunges, push-ups, wall-sits, squats and many other exercises.
Always be mindful to your physical health; without it, the immune system may struggle. Strong physical health creates strong mental health, both of which are crucial. Participating in physical activity dramatically decreases the chances of many health complications, such as chronic diseases and other issues that diminish the quality of life. If you are suffering from a chronic disease, it is likely that physical activity will improve the state of the condition. With a little creativity and more caution, it is still possible and still imperative to stay active during a pandemic.
Sara Hill is the Creating Healthy Communities Project Director at the Meigs County Health Department.