Staying at home for extended periods of time can be challenging. When you are in self-quarantine because of COVID-19, you may get bored and find yourself watching a lot of television or playing too many video games. Regardless of how you spend your time, there’s a good chance that you will become more sedentary than you are used to being. Staying physically fit in self-quarantine is critical to your mental health as well as to your overall health and well-being.
Connection to Mental Health
Self-quarantine and isolation can contribute to stress and depression. Watching countless news reports about the effects of COVID-19 only adds to the unhappiness. However, turning off the television and the phone and focusing on your physical fitness can boost your mood as well as improve your health. Physical exercise stimulates the body to produce endorphins and enkephalins. These are the “feel good” hormones that occur naturally in your body and that can help make problems seem more manageable. Given the current situation, you are feeling stressed because it is a natural physical and mental response to a threat or negative experience. Stress contributes significantly to anxiety and depression. Researchers have studied several ideas about how physical activity can help improve your mood and alleviate the effects of stress. The experts say that exercise can:
- Subdue responses from both the sympathetic nervous system (responsible for the fight-or-flight reaction) and the hormonal feedback system that reacts to stress.
- Work like an antidepressant, increasing levels of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) like serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, thus boosting mood.
- Prompt the release of endorphins, which are naturally occurring opioids produced by the body.
- Enhance people’s sense of self-efficacy (belief in oneself as capable), which reduces anxiety.
- Distract from thoughts and stressors, which also reduces anxiety.
Health Benefits of Physical Fitness
Making the effort to stay physically fit in self-quarantine can benefit you greatly in terms of your health and well-being. Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and to prevent you from gaining weight, which can actually impair your immune function. Of course, being physically fit can also help you maintain your health so that you do not need to see a doctor or go to the hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Heart Association recommends getting regular exercise to benefit your physical and mental health:
- Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both, preferably spread throughout the week.
- Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) on at least 2 days per week.
- Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
- Gain even more benefits by being active at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
- Increase amount and intensity gradually over time.
Exercises at Home
Even when you can’t go to the gym, there are many alternatives for staying physically fit in self-quarantine. The simplest of movements can contribute to managing your health. You can do squats while watching tv or heel raises while you’re doing the dishes. Have a load of clothes to wash and dry? Do some side lunges in between loads. In the kitchen, preparing dinner? Do some push-ups while you’re waiting for the oven to heat up or the water to boil. Music and dancing not only lift the spirits but can add to your physical fitness. Turn on some lively, upbeat music and get everyone in the house up and dancing. The kids are probably bored, too, and need some exercise themselves. Have some fun with getting exercise!
Go for a Walk
You’re in self-quarantine and isolated, but in most areas you can still go outside for some fresh air and exercise. Remember to keep your distance from others while you take advantage of neighborhood sidewalks or walking paths. Check to see if your local park is still open. If so, take a walk on the park trails. Even just walking around your own backyard can provide the benefits of physical and mental fitness. Maintain social distancing while you walk, though!
Intensive Healing for Your Addiction Recovery
At Makana Path, we understand the importance of physical exercise to your health and well-being and to your recovery. Our intensive healing program includes physical exercise with a certified personal trainer. To learn more about our intensive healing program, contact Makana Path today by calling 1-866-922-0776.