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Exercise is Medicine: Managing the stress of COVID-19

By Denise Fisher, AT

· wellbeing

During this challenging time of COVID-19, it's important to remember that exercise is the best medicine for your mind and body. Exercise provides you with stress management, improved immune system function, and a positive mental health outlook. The body needs exercise because it helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps the cardiovascular system work more efficiently. When you perform daily exercise, your heart and lung health improve, which provides you with more energy for your daily activities.
The quarantine lifestyle is hard and can leave you feeling depressed because you are not able to do the things you love. I encourage you to try new forms of exercise even if it's not related to your sport. My favorite types of exercise are biking and running. I like the feeling of being tired after a workout because I feel accomplished, and I get that feeling the most from running and biking. I also really like weight training because the next day, I can feel the soreness, and I know I did something right :). If you haven't been very active during the quarantine, it's not too late, and your coaches will thank you for it! First, try to get on a regular sleep schedule with at least 8 hours of sleep. Sleep is essential for your health and recovery, which I plan to discuss in another blog. Next, find an activity that you think you might enjoy and make a plan to do that activity five days a week. The time frame will depend on your current activity level and fitness level.
An example would be a hike for 30-40 min (remember social distancing recommendations) followed by push-up, planks, and crunches. You may not find the activities very challenging, but give yourself time to see how you feel a day or two after. If you responded well, continue to build up from there. The routine I have been doing to manage my stress and to stay in shape: 20- 30 min trail run pushing my 40 + pound son in a stroller, biking up and down our dirt road for 6-8 miles pulling my son in a cart, and gardening. I need to hit the weights to keep my body strong. So, I will make a goal of 3 x 10 push-ups daily, crunches or sit-ups x 30 daily, and upper arm and back strengthening with weights 3 x's a week. I know I can do it, but my challenge is getting into the routine.

Let's work together virtually to maintain a healthy mindset and body. As an athlete, you need to take responsibility for your own mental and physical health to achieve your goals. Your coaches and I are always available to help you get through this difficult time. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions on training programs, pre-rehab exercises, or sports physical therapy.

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