The COVID-19 Pandemic will most certainly be reviewed in history books and analyzed for years to come. They’ll write about statistics, deaths, and the infected; about businesses that didn’t survive; about unemployment; and about how leadership responded.
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Those facts, alone, are certainly enough to convey what a tough time it has been for so many people. However, there are also physical and mental health ramifications that people are suffering through as a result of the pandemic. It is equally important that we address those issues and how to recover, as well.
- Are you experiencing any of the following?
- Back pain or stiff joints from sitting more than you normally would
- A few extra pounds (or more)
- Feeling out of shape
- Lack of motivation
- Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
- Emotional roller coaster days
- Anger, depression, anxiety, fear
- Longing for “normal”
You are so not alone!
Most likely, everyone you come across is experiencing one of those things, at the bare minimum, and are probably also struggling with things not even mentioned. It is OK to not be OK. Fortunately, in a time when so many things are out of our control, there is a way that you can help yourself. A return to (or starting of) an exercise routine can help with almost anything on that list. It won’t necessarily make it go away…those of us maintaining an exercise routine are still suffering from many of those problems (myself included), but gosh, does it help a lot!
How do you get started?
That is always the hardest part, isn’t it? Pretend you have never exercised before, or you are just coming off of an injury. Break it up into baby steps. The first, and most important thing, is to find something you WANT to do. If you despise cardio, a running program probably isn’t for you. It’s good to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but not right when you’re getting started.
Will exercising outdoors bring you joy? Exercising near friends? Figure out what that is and go from there. Maybe your options are limited because your gym hasn’t opened up yet, or you aren’t quite ready to be exposed in that setting. There are still so many options to choose from; outdoor activities (bicycle, rollerblade, run, walk, play basketball or volleyball), outdoor classes, virtual classes, YouTube workouts, and more.
Once you have the “what” figured out, start creating small goals for yourself. Let’s pretend you picked riding your bike. Your first goal could be to ride your bike at least twice a week for the first month. That is very reasonable, and it is possible that you could surpass that goal, which would be encouraging. During that first month, see how far you can go while you are riding.
Goal number two….push that distance. For example, let’s say you were easily riding 6 miles each time you rode. Maybe your next goal can be 20 miles a week. That way you can choose, depending on the type of day you’re having, if you want to ride longer each day or ride more days to reach that goal. Having a little flexibility in your goals is important. Let’s face it, we often don’t have control over many factors in our lives and need to be able to adapt.
You’ll be surprised how quickly your body and mind will love having that routine again, and you’ll start to crave those workouts. Once you’ve taken those first steps, the possibilities are endless. You will be ready to add in other exercises, have more energy, and hopefully be feeling much better!
Molly Nevins, ACSM HSF, is a long-time contributor to Healthy & Fit Magazine. Check out her Facebook page at: facebook.com/molly.fit