Experts have almost always stressed in the importance of exercise. That said, however, since the on-set of the COVID-19 outbreak, gyms have been closed, and it remains unclear when they will open up their doors again. For roughly the past nine weeks, most of the country has been subject to shelter-in-place orders, although some states are just now beginning to open.
In Pennsylvania, some counties are moving steadily toward the “yellow” phase (the “red” phase being totally lockdown and the “green” phase means everywhere is back to normal. But even in this uncertain yellow phase, gyms are to remain closed until further notice.
While observing stay-at-home orders, many people have started to construct home gyms. Others, on the other hand, have resorted to running outside and exercises that employ a person’s own body weight such as push-ups and sit-ups. While others, still, do not have access to workout gear or, perhaps, do not have the capacity to work out at home.
So, why is exercise so important?
First, as pointed out by author John J. Ratey, M.D., in his book, “Spark,” exercise improves a person’s mental state. Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. This is very important since some commentators and media pundits have been warning about a potential “mental health crisis” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Actual social networks (not necessarily virtual ones) are an important way to maintain a person’s positive mental health state. With virtually everyone being stuck at home for weeks and weeks, combating negative moods can be important, and exercise may be one way to do that.
Second, as author Gretchen Reynolds in her book, “The First 20 Minutes” has pointed out, does a ton of positive things for the body. Although it remains outside the scope of this article, the positive affects of exercise on the body include an extended lifespan, stronger muscles and bones, and increased endurance. A person can obtain these benefits while exercising at home.
A personal may choose to engage in aerobic exercise, which strengthens an individual’s cardiovascular system, or strength/resistance training to improve strength. Some experts have argued that a “both/and” approach may be best, which combines both aerobic exercise and strength/resistance training.
Finally, if it’s possible, it might be a good idea to find a way to do some exercise while staying at home. Exercise has been shown to reduce symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety, while it – at the same time – strengthens the body and physical endurance.
Ratey, J. J. (2008). Spark. Little, Brown Spark, New York, NY.
Reynolds, G. (2012). Penguin Random House, New York, NY.