Adapt or Adopt: Physical Fitness During a Pandemic

By now, we've all heard Governor Phil Scott's order to "stay home, stay safe." Medical professionals really appreciate this advice and all the potential it has for making the number of patients we see here at the hospital manageable for the providers and resources we have.

 

Staying home—when you may have otherwise been distracted with work obligations or attending social events—also holds great potential for adapting your old ways of being physically active to our new circumstances or adopting some new physical activities.

 

If you used to run on the treadmill at the gym, which is now closed due to the outbreak, to take a run outside, instead. The fresh air is exhilarating, and the workout is every bit as good, if not better. Exercising outdoors, with little contact with others, is okay, even under the Governor's stay-home order. If you used to take fitness classes, consider trying the online version.

 

Exercising, either for the first time or in new ways, holds immediate and lasting benefits. For reasons that are still not entirely understood, a good workout reduces stress, improves mood, and decreases rates of depression. Those who work out regularly often claim that it brightens their mood.

 

Exercise, along with adequate sleep and good nutrition, very likely improves immune response and most definitely decreases risk of serious illnesses, like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

 

Maybe most importantly, by prioritizing physical activity during these very unusual times, we make our routines stronger and more resilient to whatever other challenges come our way even after we "get back to normal." We increase our chances of enjoying the cumulative benefits of an active lifestyle.

 

There are so many things that we have little control over. We can't control how old we are, what genes we have, or what germs are circulating in the environment. But we can take small daily steps to increase our physical activity in ways that will improve our lives immediately and in the long term.

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