The coronavirus pandemic has left many of us feeling isolated, stressed, and anxious. The negative impacts of this isolation can be significant in relation to all aspects of health and wellness. Fortunately, by structuring some physical activity into your day, you can improve your health outlook significantly. Here are a few ways staying active during the pandemic is beneficial for your health and wellbeing.
Known positive health outcomes
Physical activity helps your body stay healthy in a variety of ways that are particularly important in relation to coronavirus. Regular activity can reduce blood pressure, help you manage weight, and reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and stroke, just to name a few things. All of these are positive impacts in relation to coronavirus, as these conditions are risk factors that increase your susceptibility to the coronavirus.
Focus on mental health: managing anxiety, stress, depression, and more
We know that in general, physical activity has positive benefits for mental health as well. There are myriad potential benefits including stress reduction, better management of depressive symptoms, elevated self-esteem, better sleep, and anxiety management. It’s not just general positive benefits that are in play, though. There may be some benefits specifically in our pandemic context. Take the findings of one preliminary study from May 2020 that looked at behavior during initial lockdown in the United States in April. It found that people who remained active during weeks of sheltering in place were more mentally resilient and less depressed than people who decreased in activity level.
Another intersection: substance use reduction
Activity can help with another important phenomenon that intersects with mental health in this pandemic: substance abuse. We know that some activity can reduce the use of substances. This is crucial during our current pandemic. Take alcohol use for example. Alcohol sales increased 26% across the country between March and June (compared to last year), and many people have increased their alcohol consumption. A study from RTI in June surveyed 1,000 adults in the US about their daily alcohol intake in April compared to February. On average, respondents drank significantly more in April, with a higher incidence of excessive drinking as well. Women, unemployed people, parents, adults with mental health concerns, and Black people experienced some of the largest increases in consumption.
Reducing substance use can help increase immunity, and can lead to more positive mental health outcomes. Activity can play a key role here, and is particularly important in our pandemic context.
Ways to be active
It can seem like physical activity is harder than usual with so many ongoing social distancing and lockdown protocols. In some ways, this is true. Fortunately, though, there are a lot of creative ways you can still be active either by yourself or with others. Many businesses are leaning into online delivery for fitness programs. Yoga, meditation, spin classes, and many other opportunities are more and more available for you to engage with online. You don’t have to be online access to be active either- getting outside in your neighborhood or creating an in-home training setup are great options too. Check out these great resources on staying active during the pandemic from the ACSM for more ideas.
If you are trying to return to activity after being sick with the coronavirus, you should seek guidance and treatment from a qualified medical professional like Dr. Stacie Grossfeld. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Grossfeld, call Orthopaedic Specialists at 502-212-2663 today.