Shelter-in-place brings student a new appreciation for exercise

It’s true, folks: the shelter-in-place order is among us, and there are only so many Netflix shows to binge-watch, sugar cookies to bake and Schoology updates to peruse. Luckily for us, though, spring is also upon us, and with it brings warm weather, cool breezes and excellent opportunities to exercise. While I hadn’t ever previously considered leaving the dreamy wonderland that you may call a bed for the sake of so-called “physical activity,” I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood on a sunny afternoon on a whim. Now, most of my whims either end in pain-stricken tragedy or in immediate success. Luckily for me, it was the latter.

This walk-on-a-whim has also led me to a certain conclusion that, given our current circumstances, regularly incorporating exercise into my daily schedule inspires me to be more productive at home, allows me to maintain my physical health and—most importantly—reminds me to stay calm during these unprecedented times. Despite these benefits, students may find it difficult to exercise amid the pandemic. After all, many fitness centers, playgrounds and parking lots to trails are currently closed, so those who regularly depend on these sites for exercise need to find another source. However, the sedentary behavior that I and many others are exhibiting can have negative effects on our health, well-being and quality of life. With COVID-19 as a major source of stress, physical activity can help you remain calm and protect your health.

After all, a recent study conducted by Evidation Health, a health and measurement company that tracks everyday behaviors through an app, showed that 49% of the roughly 160,000 participants reported increased anxiety during recent shelter-in-place orders. With anxiety up in every state, it has become incredibly crucial to maintain a sense of physical activity while staying safe. For reference, the American Heart Association recommends at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity,
or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, per week.

And that’s exactly what I did. My week consisted of a combination of jogging, walking and biking, sometimes alone with my headphones plugged in and other times with my mask-donning family. Yes, even under our county’s restrictions, we’re still allowed to step out of our homes and take advantage of the warm weather. Be sure, though, to limit your contact with others. If you don’t own a mask, consider covering your nose and mouth with a cloth or another type of breathable fabric. Additionally, try your best to stay at least six feet away from your fellow exercise-doers and even cross the street and walk down a different sidewalk to help avoid such close contact, if possible.

If you’d still like to exercise but want to do so in the safety of your own home, do not fret! There are still many physical activities you can do inside. If you don’t have any exercise machines, try yoga, dancing, planks, squats, or, if you’d like to try something that no one has ever done before, pushups and situps.

So, consider taking some time out of your day to head outdoors for what feels like the first time in forever. We’re facing difficult times, but there are a myriad of outlets—exercise, for example—that can help make your days feel a bit less bleak. Simply grab your mask, a comfortable pair and shoes and remember that we’re all in this together… six feet apart!