Leave your excuses in the freezer, with the ice cream – getting healthy while social distancing

In trying times, it can feel like we have lost all control. The things we once took for granted, are now those that we long for. Before COVID-19, sticking to a fitness routine felt like one of the most daunting tasks. For many of us, finding an excuse to avoid the gym or stay active was easy. Too much work, too tired, too cold, too hot – pretty much ANY excuse was good.

But now, as the government implements more stringent stay-at-home regulations, social distancing has left most of us feeling even more unmotivated to keep up our physical routines – yet it’s more important now than ever!

Remote work can often blur the lines between business and pleasure, leading to even longer work days.  We’re finding it hard to stay motivated to do anything other than binge our favourite documentaries when signing off for the night – I’m looking at you, Tiger King! But sitting all day long, while it might feel satisfying, is actually doing more harm than good, both mentally and physically.

So, we’ve compiled some of our best tips and tricks for staying active and healthy while in lockdown mode.

Prioritizing sleep

One of the most important ways to stay healthy is by making sure you’re getting enough sleep each night; the optimal range is between six and nine hours. Sleep is essential for our both our brains and bodies to function properly, so keeping a regular sleep schedule can help us feel like we’re in control.

Finding alternate fitness routines

With gyms and fitness studios closed, it can be hard to transition to home workouts – especially if your remote gym is also your remote office, entertainment centre and your roommate or partner’s space. The key is to find a solution that best suits your lifestyle and something that you look forward to each day. In most cases, all you need is a yoga mat and some open space to get in the recommended daily dose of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day.

Thankfully, a lot of studios and fitness experts have now put workouts online. Examples of fitness classes being offered virtually include:

Sofa Workout – a workout that can be done from the comfort of your own couch, while binging your favourite TV series. No weights, bands or bars required.

– For those who are fans of intense workouts that will leave you stiff but proud, Team Train Sweat Eat’s coach Sissy posts 3x15min live and recorded sessions per day on her Instagram, from her hometown in France. Don’t speak French? You don’t need to, just look at her!

– Virtual classes, from bootcamp to yoga, are offered at no cost through social media. Check with your favourite studio and/or instructor to see what they are offering.

– Several fitness apps are offering free classes to train at home, including Peloton (no bike required!), Adidas Runtastic and Nike Training Club.

If following along with a class isn’t your thing, there are plenty of exercises you can do in your own home. Take breaks throughout the day to go for a five-minute walk around the house to keep the blood flowing, try safely jogging up and down the stairs (if you have them) or, if all else fails, put on upbeat songs that you love and just dance! With neighbours distancing in their own homes, now is truly the time to dance like no one is watching.

Put down the chips. Fruits and vegetables are your friend!

On top of getting enough exercise each day, it’s important to eat healthy. Staying indoors can get boring, and most people naturally find themselves browsing the snack cupboard as a way to procrastinate. Now is the time to break the cycle – buy lots of fruits and vegetables so that you can get your recommended dose of vitamins in a natural way. And, let’s face it, we’ll all get snacky, so turn to nuts (almonds, walnuts etc.) or high-fibre crackers to get your fix.

It’s also critical to stay hydrated. Make sure you’re drinking two litres of water each day, and instead of having that mid-afternoon coffee, go for hot water with lemon instead. If you’re a tea fan, choose green over black tea.

Don’t ignore your mental health – and explore new creative territories

During this stressful time, it’s natural to feel heightened anxieties around the lack of control and to underplay these feelings because “everyone is dealing with it” So why should you be different? Social distancing and isolating from friends and family can have a taxing toll on our mental health and if it’s getting to you, it shouldn’t be ignored.

Make sure that you’re continuing to connect with your loved ones virtually to maintain the level of connection you had before the pandemic. Fun, virtual options include Netflix’s new co-watching feature or trending apps for face-to-face calls like Zoom and Houseparty. Additionally, embrace “me time” by getting back into old passions: painting, reading, listening to music or crafting, or finding new ones like learning a new language or playing an instrument. Creative activities are proven to help reconnect with one’s self and give a better sense of fulfilment.

If you continue to struggle with the impact that the pandemic is having on your physical or mental health, please reach out to a medical professional.

Maintaining normalcy

The biggest misconception is that there’s a one-size-fits-all solution, when in reality, you have to find what works best for you. Whether that be multiple short walks, ab workouts for days or some dips and push-ups during commercial breaks, your well-being routine might look different from everyone else’s, and that’s okay. The key takeaway is to stay healthy while keeping homebound. You’ve got this!