A shadow pandemic of mental illness has come forth during the sudden rise of the novel coronavirus. It brought long-term effects not just on our physical well-being, but also on our mental health. Existing depression and anxiety are being amplified, alongside new emerging cases — a matter that badly needs the same great attention with COVID-19 cases. But how do we protect our mental health while in the middle of a global health emergency? One effective way is incorporating physical activities with it. Forward-thinking and compassionate companies even recognize this issue and are now including virtual exercise sessions with their employee benefits.
Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, “It is exercise alone that supports the spirits, and keeps the mind in vigor.” Physical activity possesses many benefits for your body. Keeping your heart in tip-top condition, maintaining healthy joints and bones — these are just some of its advantages. But did you know that it is also beneficial for your mental health and well-being? Scientifically, your body releases “happy hormones” called endorphins when you exercise. These powerful chemicals interact with your brain’s receptors, which lowers your perception of pain and uplifts your spirits. Physical activity indeed makes you feel good, as proven by science.
Exercise should not be viewed as something that needs to be done for the sake of it but something that you want and should do because of its positive and helpful benefits for your own welfare, and it does not automatically mean shooting balls, hitting shuttlecocks, or lifting heavy weights in the gym. The following is a list of physical activities that work without having to leave your home.
Now get up and let’s get physical!
Decrease your time sitting and inactivity by stretching your legs or standing up whenever you can, something you can do every 30 minutes. You can also do something else while standing up, maybe put a pile of books under your laptop or use a high desk so you can continue working. While standing up, your muscles are active and working, which burns more calories than sitting. Even just standing for five minutes increases your metabolism!
You can remain active even when in a small space. If you are working from home, taking a phone call, or simply idling, you can do some practical ways like using the stairs repeatedly or just walking in place. You can also walk outside, but face masks and social distancing rules should not be forgotten. Some benefits of walking include getting stronger bones and improving your balance while lowering your body mass index. It is also quite convenient since you would not need any specific equipment or court to do it.
Take Active Breaks
Short periods of breaks are necessary to remain active during the day while also increasing your cognitive productivity. You can do a quick dance routine, simple stretching techniques, or neck and shoulder exercises while having your break. These activities can prevent fatigue or back pain, improve your muscle and posture, and increase your concentration levels.
Do Chores Around the House
Have you tried the physical activity called gardening? Lifting pots, digging soil, or even watering the plants — these sound like minimal actions, but they all contribute to physical activity. Doing household chores such as washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, preparing meals, and vacuuming are also sensible to increase your activity level. You will not only lose some calories; at the same time, your home environment becomes tidy and clean.
Watch Online Workouts
What can’t be found online nowadays? Almost everything can be watched on the internet, even exercises that you can easily follow. Most of these videos are on YouTube; there are 20-minute exercises for beginners, and there are even shorter videos just for warming up. There are intensive and complete workout routines that you can do for a longer time. Now find the right spot with enough space for you and play that video.
Remember that any amount, no matter how small, of physical activity is better than no activity at all. In this time and age, your mental health should also be a priority. While there are many ways to lessen some of the harmful and negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our well-being, studies show that doing even light physical activities may help ease some of these feelings that kids and adults experience in quarantine or isolation.
However, it should be noted that mental health issues are to be taken more seriously. If you find it hard to manage your stress, anxiety, or depression even after following these simple steps, asking help from professionally-licensed therapists is still the best option.