For many of us, the loss of our fitness routines — the social aspects of a regular exercise class, scheduled walks with friends — is one of the stresses imposed by COVID-19 restrictions. Yet maintaining, or possibly increasing, your physical activity level seems even more important than usual in the face of this new coronavirus. While we don’t know exactly how fitness and exercise affect this particular virus, we do know that regular physical activity boosts the immune system. One study shows just a single dose of moderate- to high-intensity exercise can bolster the immune system. And a strong immune system can help fight off the effects of viral illnesses.
Also, exercise confers multiple benefits on essentially all of your body’s systems, from your muscles, bones, heart, and lungs to your brain. Importantly, it increases insulin sensitivity and reduces stress hormones, which further helps your body fight infections. Significantly, exercise helps people manage anxiety and depression. Even a single bout of exercise can help if you’re feeling anxious or depressed, perhaps due to the fear of becoming ill, financial concerns, and worry about the well-being of loved ones. But how can you get enough physical activity in a confined space and without access to your usual exercise machines or classes?
Switching your exercise to a more confined space may require some flexibility on your part. When I counsel my patients about exercise and suggest flexibility, they often think of yoga or stretching. But in this case, I am suggesting being more flexible about your choice of exercise and less rigid about holding onto prior habits. Keep in mind:
If you feel confined in your available exercise area — and, as some people complain, like a prisoner in your home due to stay-at-home orders — consider that exercise actually has been shown to improve depression, stress, and anxiety in people who are in prison. Even within limited space, people can do body weight exercises similar to these workouts, such as push-ups, bridges, squats, yoga poses, and mat Pilates. Want more? Try challenging your standing balance and performing agility work by hopping from side to side or front and back.
Here are four ways to reshape your exercise routine during the COVID-19 pandemic:
The post No room to exercise? Tiny space workouts have never been more important appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.
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