Exercise During The Pandemic

Exercise and your immune system

While being fit won’t prevent you from catching the virus, it does have many other protective effects. Physical activity releases endorphins, chemicals in your brain that revitalize your mind and body, and it can help to improve all aspects of your health. In addition to boosting your mood and improving sleep, exercise can also strengthen your immune system, something that is particularly important at this time, especially for older adults who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.

But don’t overdo it. While moderate physical activity supports immune function, too much intense activity—especially if you are not used to it—may have the opposite effect and suppress your immune system.

If you use exercise to keep up your energy and spirits in trying times such as these, you might be less inclined to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking too much, which can also wear down your immune system.

Making an exercise plan that’ll keep you motivated

Whether you’re teaching your kids and working at home or you’re unemployed and worried about finances, this is likely not the time to undertake a challenging new fitness plan. Consider your energy levels (many people report fatigue from coronavirus-related stress), any ongoing health concerns, and the time you have available, then set reasonable goals focusing on activities you enjoy. You’re more likely to stick to an exercise plan if you start small, celebrate your successes, and build up gradually.

Prioritize your workouts.

People who put their fitness activities on the same calendar as their regular appointments tend to stick to their plan. You wouldn’t cancel your appointment with your dentist because you were busy with work or just didn’t feel like it at that moment. Rather, you’d fulfill your obligation and then return to work afterwards.

Workout at the time that’s right for you.

Many people who maintain a long-term exercise program workout in the mornings. Completing your fitness routine in the morning can energize you and set a positive tone for the rest of the day. Others find it helpful to take a break from work and get moving in the afternoon when their energy is flagging. A burst of activity can stimulate the brain and help you push through the rest of the tasks on your to-do list.

Be specific in your goals—and track your workouts.

Rather than aim to “get in better shape,” set a concrete goal such as “walk 30 minutes in the morning on Monday/Wednesday/Friday/Saturday.” Try one of the many fitness trackers or smartphone apps available to keep a record of your progress—or simply use a calendar to note the length of your workout, distance, and effort level. Tracking your progress can help keep you accountable, provide a sense of accomplishment, and encourage you to keep going.

Say it out loud.

Tell a friend what your goals and routines are or post about it on social media. You’re less likely to skip a session if you know your friends will be asking about how you got on. And if they give you positive feedback, it will give you a boost for your next session. Working out with a buddy can also help keep you on track. Set up regular times to exercise together—either at a social distance or on a phone or video call—and offer each other support and encouragement