If the last three years have taught us anything, it’s that we need to take our physical and mental health more seriously. Throughout this pandemic, the overall physical and mental health of the public has taken a total nosedive. As it turns out, keeping people locked up in their homes and isolated from their loved ones for long periods of time, has a negative impact on their general health and quality of life. Go figure.
With the implementation of strict regulations such as mask mandates in public areas and the closure of so-called ‘non-essential businesses’ including community and recreation centers like gyms, yoga, barre, and spin facilities among many others, people were left feeling frustrated, fearful, and unsure of what the future might hold.
While social distancing implementations like the six-foot distancing policy might be convenient in the checkout line at the grocery store, strict policies like these have caused a substantial decrease in physical activity which has led to an increase in moderate/severe depression and moderate/severe anxiety symptoms among men and women. In addition to this, those with lower physical activity levels, lower family income, and those in a younger age bracket present a greater presence of symptoms related to anxiety and depression.
To put it simply, the less physically active you are the greater your chances are of developing mode disorders like depression or anxiety. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, physical activity has been shown to improve mood and quality of life.
But, what if you’re not sure where to begin?
Gyms are great, but as we’ve discovered they are not always accessible to everyone. Here are a few other options to help you stay active that almost anyone can implement into their lifestyle.
Strength Train at Home
If you are an avid gym goer or want to get into strength training, one option would be to get some free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, a medicine ball, as well as other things like resistance bands, an exercise mat, and a stability ball. All these tools are used in different exercises to help you build muscle and ultimately feel better.
There are also a ton of resources out there including YouTube videos that break down each exercise and how to perform them safely. If you want to work on a specific muscle group like triceps you can simply type “triceps exercises” into the google search engine and you’ll get tons of results like a triceps workout guide from Welltech. This site is a great resource that breaks down a few beginner-friendly triceps exercises that you can do with or without dumbbells.
Take Short Breaks Throughout the Day
If you work in an office, it’s not exactly feasible to stay completely active throughout the day, but even going for a five-minute walk every so often throughout the day can be very beneficial. Human beings were not meant to sit and stare at a computer screen for 8 hours a day. We need to move our bodies.
If you work from home, it will be much easier to get in some physical activity throughout the day. Do some jumping jacks, squats, planks, or even jog in place for a minute or two. Another recommendation would be to purchase an under-desk stepper or walking pad. It is similar to a treadmill, but it either does not have arms and a data screen or the arms may fold down in order for you to be able to walk while you work at your desk. You might find it a bit difficult at first, but the more you use it the easier it will get, and eventually, you will notice a difference in how you look and feel.
Take an Online Exercise Class
If you don’t have the funds to hire a personal trainer, then I’ve got good news for you. You don’t need to. There are a plethora of free exercise programs that can be found online. One of the most popular platforms is YouTube. There are hundreds of personal trainers that have created training programs ranging from beginner to expert level. Many of them will typically offer nutritional advice or even meal plans to go along with the training programs as well as a fitness community page on Facebook in case you need that extra support from others who are going through the same journey. You can ask for advice or even upload a progress photo so others can cheer you on. There really is nothing holding you back from achieving your goals.
In addition to this, there are also lots of fitness apps that can assist you with your fitness and nutritional goals. Many of these apps can help you keep track of your calories, workout schedule, sleep schedule, and more. Plus, you can easily customize your meal plan to fit your own specific needs like if you have an allergy or wish you achieve a certain percentage of macros in a day. And a lot of them are free as well.
If you find it very difficult to step away from your desk more than a few times a day, then utilizing a standing desk could be a great solution for you. Ideally, you should try to stand up as often as possible, but a good rule of thumb is to stand up after sitting for 30 minutes or longer.
If you don’t have the funds to purchase a standing desk you could try stacking books or other materials stable enough to allow you to keep working while standing. It might not seem like it will make a big difference, but research suggests that standing with working improves work performance and lowers the risks characteristic of a sedentary lifestyle.
All in all, even just a small amount of movement throughout the day is still better than doing nothing. But just imagine the improvement you could make in your day-to-day life by taking your health seriously. Time is going to move forward no matter what you choose to do. Three months from now you can look back and be proud of how far you’ve come or wish you had started. You just have to take the first step.