Graphics by Taylor Rodriguez
By Taylor Rodriguez
Exercising is beneficial for one’s mental and physical health. Something as simple as going on a daily 30-minute walk or sticking to a simple home workout has its benefits.
Some gyms and activity centers across the country are still closed due to health concerns regarding COVID-19. This can make it difficult for those who regularly exercise or for those who want to start but don’t have access to equipment.
During my trip to Buffalo this last December, almost everywhere was either closed or operating under strict guidelines. Gyms, restaurants, malls and even personal care businesses like barbers and salons were forced to close down.
On top of that, mask mandates are in effect in a majority of the states in the US who are trying to operate like normal. In California, there is a stay at home order for everything except permitted work and local shopping, so going out to exercise may not even be possible for some.
According to Michigan Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry, exercising can help battle symptoms of both depression and anxiety. These two things have plagued many, including myself, since the start of this pandemic.
The effects of being stuck inside for weeks on end is terribly taxing on your mental health. Some research suggests that elevated levels of aerobic activity, running, jump rope, etc., may help reduce depressive symptoms.
It is also a common understanding that exercising regularly can aid in the management of some of America’s most chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Not to mention the additional benefits for increased mood, better sleep and overall physical health.
Alternatively, strength training has shown to be effective in counteracting the effects of anxiety in those without an anxiety disorder.
Weightlifting using household items like canned goods, milk jugs filled with water, paint cans, even textbooks can reduce the negative effects of stress and anxiety that come with being quarantined.
What if this has already been attempted and it’s been impossible to stick to a routine? Like myself, you are more likely to stick to an exercise plan if you start smaller with few exercises, celebrate each stepping stone and build up gradually.
However, that won’t be the same for everyone. Each person has their own energy levels and should build their routine around how they react to their routine. In addition, when you decide to work can change how beneficial its effects are for you.
Exercising early in the morning can energize you and set a positive mood for the rest of your day. However, exercising in the afternoon may give you that short burst of energy needed when your energy is lacking.
I’ve been guilty of wanting to exercise, biting off way more I can chew and then letting my routine fall to the wayside. I can say that since I’ve maintained my routine I have felt amazing mentally and physically.
I find that it helps to set goals instead of keeping vague guidelines like “I want to be healthier.” Make it a goal to run 5 miles a day or set a goal to be able to do 50 pushups without failure. Setting a goal helps you to develop your goals further.
No matter what you do, stick to it. You’ll never feel improvement if you don’t maintain a steady routine. Try to get outside if you can, even if it’s 30 minutes of aimlessly running in your backyard or walking to the grocery store, fresh air is always nice.
It’s a new year. Let’s start it off right by improving ourselves and becoming a better version of ourselves despite the chaos going on in the world.