Across the globe people are staying at home, and for good reason. It’s the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. I applaud the contribution we are all making by doing this! However, as a medical doctor and functional medicine practitioner, I also understand how difficult this can be for our physical and mental health.
This may be a great time to start a new routine of exercising at home to keep your spirits up. In fact, the benefits of physical activity reach far beyond a nice physique. Exercise releases amazing mood enhancers in our brains.
Another excellent mood supporter is Vitamin D. Called the ‘sunshine vitamin,’ it plays a role in balancing neurotransmitters in the brain, and therefore, mood and outlook. It helps support serotonin and dopamine production and release in the brain, which also supports a positive and happy mood. While you are getting less sun indoors, you may want to consider a supplement like my highly absorbable liquid Vitamin D.
A Challenging New Environment
If you and your partner are working from home and kids are trying to study there too, it can feel like a three-ring circus. Under these circumstances the first thing to go could be your personal workout routine, meditation practice, or just plain old “me” time. You may find it hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Yet, your physical fitness is imperative at this time, as it can help you withstand the mental challenges of being in close quarters while dealing with fear and uncertainty. Exercise reduces stress and helps with mental clarity as well as enhancing your mood, so in keeping physically fit you are also keeping mentally fit.
9 Ways to Stay Physically and Mentally Fit While at Home
Here are some suggestions on how to stay fit both physically and mentally while you are at home, so you will stick to a fitness routine — even if it is in your living room with family participating or watching. You can always try exercising in your garage or your backyard if you have one for a change of scenery too.
Set a routine for exercise
- You are more likely to stick to it if it’s at a set time every day
- If you can’t have the room to yourself, choose an activity your family can do together.
- Set goals to do a certain amount of repetitions or lose weight
- Track your progress with an app; it’s encouraging to see all you’ve done
- Try an online cardio workout with one of the many FREE online resources
- Go for walks or without your dog
- Play outdoor games like hopscotch and redlight/greenlight with your kids in your yard
- Tackle a household project like organizing your garage or cupboards
- Dance to your favorite playlist
- Jumping jacks are a quick way to get your heart pumping
Work with the equipment you have
- If you have home gym equipment, use it
- Build muscle with bodyweight exercises such as push-ups
- Use a beach towel on top of carpet as a yoga mat
- Canned goods can function as hand weights for strength training
- Jump rope
Eat nutrient-dense food
- Continue eating high-quality animal proteins and organic vegetables
- While fresh is best, frozen meats and vegetables can be just as nutritious
- When you order take-out to support your local restaurants (not every night!), select gluten-free options focusing on proteins, fruits, and vegetables
- If you’re unfamiliar with the fresh produce available, explore new flavors
- Skip the junk foods laden with preservatives, chemicals, and sugar
- Avoid alcohol
Support your body with Vitamin D
- Try to step outside each day for 15 minutes of fresh air and sunshine, which helps the body make vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can make you more susceptible to the common cold.1
- Use Vitamin D to support your wellness routine.
If you have or can get an infrared sauna, use it!
- This is especially helpful if you are unable to physically exert yourself.
- Sweating in an infrared sauna can help your body detox, improve circulation, and relax.
Get the right amount of sleep
- Set a routine time to go to bed and wake up each morning; melatonin production can reduce COVID-19 virulence.2
- Too much sleep is as bad for mood as too little so don’t stay in bed all day.
- Play soft music
- Sit outside in nature
- Call or video conference a family member or good friend
- Arrange to “meet” neighbors from your front steps, a porch, or patio
- Watch a funny movie or listen to a comedy podcast
- Take baths in epsom salts which relax muscles
Have an attitude of gratitude. Giving thanks can help you:
- feel more positive emotions
- relish good experiences (even past ones)
- deal with adversity
- build strong relationships3
It’s All Connected
Don’t neglect your own health, especially if you’re taking care of others. In fact, caregivers are at higher risk for declining physical and mental health. So it’s even more important to keep fit if you are caring for someone who is sick or disabled.4
If you do find yourself suffering from anxiety, are managing existing mental health conditions, or need some emotional support, please seek help. These can be trying times and you don’t have to go it alone, even if you are home by yourself. Here are some FREE resources!
Remember this will end, and we will eventually get back to our normal routines. Maybe we will be even better equipped to handle stress and achieve our health goals. Look for the silver lining and use this as an opportunity to keep physically fit and mentally strong!
For more information
Katie Hendricks discusses how we can get back in touch with our bodies through mental exercise, self-love, stress management, and little bit of free-form dancing!