7 ways you can stay healthy and active during the pandemic

Stay active and healthyMost of us know that staying physically active comes with some benefits: it helps you manage your weight, it can help reduce or manage disease, and increases your energy and strength, improving your ability to do everyday activities. But did you know one of the immediate benefits of physical activity is an improved mood? You can see an immediate uptick in your mood after a session of moderate physical activity. It’s a natural spirit lifter! Regular physical activity can lesson symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve sleep quality, and lead to a better overall quality of life.

For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week and at least two strength training activities a week. Moderate aerobic activity would include things like brisk walking, bicycling, golf (walking, sorry, no carts), swimming, or pushing a lawn mower. Can’t quite hit 150 minutes? Some activity is better than none. Simply sitting less and doing any amount of physical activity will benefit your health.

The coronavirus pandemic has derailed so many of our plans and activities in 2020. But it doesn’t have to derail your fitness routine as well. If you can’t go to the gym, fitness class or running group right now, move your physical activity to your home or neighborhood. Don’t forget to check in with your doctor before starting a new routine, especially if you have any concerns about your health or it’s been awhile since you have been physically active.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Get outside. If the weather allows, get outside and get moving. Take a walk around your neighborhood, or explore a new trail or park.
  1. Sign up for a virtual 5k. Many organizations have moved their walk/runs to a virtual platform. If you need some extra motivation or accountability to get active, try signing up for a 5k and help an organization in your community along the way.
  1. Try some body weight exercises. No fitness equipment at home? No problem! Try some body weight exercises like planks, squats, or lunges. Here are some examples you can try.
  1. Take a bike ride. Bike riding is a great, socially distanced physical activity. Find a trail near you at traillink.com.
  1. Search for an online class. There are many free or low-cost virtual group fitness classes available that you can attend from your own home. Check out these articles from CNET and Good Housekeeping for ideas.
  1. Try a YouTube channel. Yoga with Adriene is a great, free yoga channel. Check out this article from USA today for other channels to try.
  1. Get your family involved. It always more fun to be active with others. Plus, getting your family members or others in your household involved can hold you accountable and help keep you going.

When it comes to being (and staying) physically active, it’s important to remember your “why.” Maybe it’s so you can keep up with your kids. Maybe you want to reduce your risk for heart disease, or improve your mood. Whatever your “why” is, use it as motivation to get you started. Once you start, habit will keep you going—create a routine and stick with it. Finally, we are all more likely to stick with something we enjoy. Don’t forget to be creative and have fun!

Amanda Lutz

About the Author

Amanda Lutz, MBA, PHR, SHRM-CP manages the Mead & Hunt employee benefit plans and well-being program. She has over 15 years of human resources experience with a focus on employee benefit plans. Amanda was born and raised in Madison, WI—go Badgers! She currently lives in Mt. Horeb, WI (troll capital of the world) with her husband and two children.

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