Exercising regularly is one of the most crucial things you can do for your health. Arguably, physical activity can help improve the strength of your bones and muscles, maintain a healthy weight, increase your productivity and ability to carry out daily tasks, and improve your cognitive health. It can also help manage symptoms of depression and anxiety through aerobic activities that significantly raise heart rates.
Hence, being physically fit and active is important, especially during the COVID-19 era, where another health problem is developing as we become less active and mobile than before the pandemic. The overall well-being of our health is affected by COVID-19 in ways that are not directly related to getting the virus.
As a result of the pandemic, many of us are experiencing physical, mental, and emotional difficulties. However, there is an easily accessible way to mitigate the health risks brought by the pandemic. Regular physical exercise could preserve your health and improve your productivity despite the struggles of the pandemic. This article will discuss further the importance of health fitness in the COVID-19 era and the activities you may do to preserve and improve the well-being of your overall health.
There has been a sudden transition in the behavior of many individuals toward a more sedentary lifestyle since many of us are forced to isolate, spend more time at home, binge-eat, and give up on our usual workout routines due to the pandemic. If encouraged, this sudden shift to an unhealthy lifestyle could lead to several potential health risks.
According to a study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, detrimental effects associated with physical inactivity include:
● loss of aerobic fitness
● musculoskeletal and cognitive decline
● central fat accumulation
● reduced heart health and increased long-term risk of coronary artery disease
Also, chronic diseases that can contribute to the severity of COVID-19 like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and chronic lung disease could be made worse by physical inactivity. By improving our physical activity and fitness, we have the capacity to control the majority of these lifestyle conditions. Therefore, COVID-19 prevention may now be, and rightfully so, a further incentive for all of us to increase our level of physical fitness.
Apart from causing further severity to certain health conditions, a study from BMC Public Health also revealed that moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety during the social distancing period are more prevalent among individuals with low physical activity levels. While those who managed to remain active before and during the pandemic reported having lower levels of anxiety and depression amidst COVID-19. Therefore, there is a significant relationship between physical fitness, mental health, and COVID-19 which further concludes that although the authorities and media are more focused on the physical implications of COVID-19, there is also a mental health crisis brewing.
Some of the common impacts of stress on an individual include:
● Constant feelings of negative emotions ( i.e., fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration)
● Changes or loss in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
● Concentration difficulties and in making decisions
● Sleeping problems like insomnia
● Headaches, body pains, stomach problems, or skin rashes
● Aggravate chronic health and mental health problems
● Increased use of alcohol, illegal drugs, and misuse of prescription drugs
Further, the experiences brought by COVID-19 resulted in some individuals having post-traumatic disorders, which may affect a person in the long term. Because of the implications that COVID-19 has on our overall health and fitness, we have more reasons to find ways of keeping our well-being healthy.
Physical activities such as exercising are not only beneficial to your physical health but also to improving your social connection and keeping yourself positively distracted. It is recommended to find physical activities that you could enjoy alone and with others. Most of the time, although the act of doing physical activities such as exercising could be physically exhausting, doing it with others makes the experience quite enjoyable.
There are several ways for you to stay physically active, such as:
● Taking short walks or walking your dog
● Cleaning your house or doing other house chores
● Dancing, either by attending dance lessons or simply grooving to some music at home
● Perform at-home aerobic workouts or yoga
● Do some active family time with your family by playing games or exercising together.
Physical activities need not necessarily be difficult or complex to become effective. We do have the potential to be resourceful and to incorporate physical activities and exercise into each of our days, even through simple means. More so, the support from our family and friends is very important in promoting physical activity and exercise, so try to encourage and support each other in living a healthy and active life.
The positive impacts of physical activity and exercise have been evident throughout the lifespan, especially now that the pandemic is challenging our health. COVID-19 has a ripple effect on various aspects of our well-being and wouldn’t be going away any time soon, so finding ways to preserve our health and fight the negative impacts of the pandemic is very important.
Concerning this, engaging in physical activity and active social behavior positively impacts preserving our physical and mental health. Evidently, regular workout routines are more vital now than ever as they not just improve our physical health but also help mitigate the adverse effects of stress from the pandemic on mental health. According to sources, any physical activity is preferable to none, but doctors advise adults to stay active on the majority of days and aim for 2.5 to 5 hours of weekly moderate physical activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of weekly strenuous physical activity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also stated the following benefits of physical activity, such as:
● Weight management
● Reducing health risks and chronic conditions
● Strengthening bones and muscles
● Improving mobility and productivity
● Prolonging life span
Exercising regularly and engaging in physical activities are also found to relieve anxiety symptoms for those with and without anxiety disorders, improve sleep, concentration, and depressive symptoms among children and adolescents, and manage chronic health conditions for older people.
More so, since we’ve constantly suffered from loneliness and boredom during the lockdown and from social distancing measures, exercising in an environment where you can meet other people is a healthy means of building your physical and mental health. Exercising could also be a distraction or replacement for other fun activities that are limited due to COVID-19 safety restrictions.
Taking time to re-evaluate the state of our overall well-being is very important to assure that we are performing at our best, especially when there are existing threats to our health. For our bodies to function optimally, maintaining a proper balance between sleep, what we eat, and staying physically fit is important. An article from Purdue University collated several recommendations to maintain the three key aspects of a healthy and high-functioning body:
Additionally, to care for the well-being of your mental health, the National Institute of Mental Health has the following recommendations:
During a pandemic like COVID-19, where our bodies could be attacked by viruses that could weaken our immune system, it is important to take the proper measures to keep our bodies fit and healthy. Physical activities like regularly exercising can help mitigate the pandemic’s impacts on our physical and mental wellness.
Engaging in physical activities with other people can also serve as a way to lessen the implications that the frequent lockdowns and social distancing have on our social life by using it as an alternative way to entertain yourself since some leisure activities are currently limited due to pandemic restrictions.
Although the current situation we are in now makes us feel that things are currently beyond our control, taking the initiative in doing and choosing the physical activities we want to do gives back some of our sense of control over matters.
But apart from focusing on your physical health, it is important to remember that all aspects of our well-being should be equally cared for to keep our bodies at their optimal state. Encouraging a poor and sedentary lifestyle could lead to harmful health risks. So learn to keep a balanced diet, get the sleep you need, and stay physically active to keep all aspects of your health at their best. Keep track of your progress, stay consistent with what you started and always remember that caring for your body is a lifetime commitment.