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COVID-19: Top 5 Exercises to Manage Your Stress and Anxiety

COVID-19 has forced the world to a halt. With news of the virus dominating headlines and everyone talking about it, common reactions include stress, anxiety and fear. Feeling overwhelmed in lockdown, the urge to stay connected, and the fear of an uncertain future are all taking a toll on our wellbeing.

Your physical and mental health can be affected by sleeplessness, restlessness, fear and anxiety. To cope with this crisis you need to stay in good health. Our fitness trainers in Toronto have come up with five indoor exercises to help you manage stress during the COVID-19 lockdown.


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How to Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy During COVID-19

Here are the best exercises to manage stress and stay healthy in this emotionally taxing time.

1) Yoga

Yoga is a mind-body practice considered one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and lower your blood pressure and heart rate. It can also help you relax and improve your concentration. Combining yoga postures and deep breathing is a form of strength training to make you resilient and flexible, thus relieving physical and mental tension. You can also incorporate meditation to become more mindful and enhance your mood.

As you’re staying at home anyway, take advantage of interactive yoga videos on YouTube, virtual yoga classes, or practice beginner’s yoga sequences. All you need is a quiet, uncluttered space and to dress comfortably. Remember to set realistic goals and start with small pockets of time until your skills improve.

2) Pilates

Pilates emphasizes alignment, breathing, developing a strong core, and improving coordination, concentration, and balance. It consists of controlled, low-impact movements that increase your flexibility, muscular strength and endurance. They also decrease stress hormones like cortisol and boost feel-good ones like endorphins.

It’s a common misconception that Pilates is only for serious athletes and professional dancers. But even beginners can adopt it by going slowly at first and gradually increasing the intensity of their workout. Make sure you consult an experienced instructor or fitness expert before starting.

Here’s a video to learn some Pilates movements at home.

3) Dancing

Dancing releases endorphins which reduce stress and cause us to feel calm, happy and optimistic.

Apart from being one of the best exercises to manage stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, dancing is a form of self-expression, improves grace and agility, and raises our heart rate. When the outside world seems overwhelming, de-stressing by dancing at home can boost happiness.

From salsa and ballet to hip-hop and freestyle, there are many dance styles to choose from, each with its own attractions but one common benefit: uplifting your mood. Online dance classes are springing up around the world to give those stuck at home a chance to dance their hearts out or master a new skill.

4) Gardening

Gardening is a low-impact but effective workout that involves all your major muscles, including legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, back, neck and abdomen. Lifting bags of mulch, pushing a wheelbarrow and shoveling provide resistance training similar to weightlifting.

Besides burning calories, gardening lightens your mood and lowers your stress levels. Being around flowers and other plants helps you relax and reduce anxiety. According to one study, engaging with a garden distracts you from your worries and stops you from obsessing about your problems.

If you don’t have a garden or backyard, potting plants on your balcony or terrace is a great way to indulge in some kind of gardening. Start slowly and take breaks, especially if you don’t have a green thumb. Even 30 minutes of gardening daily can help a lot.

5) Running

Running is a high-intensity exercise which is an excellent choice for stress relief.

Apart from helping break the monotony of being home, running boosts your immune system, burns calories and lowers anxiety levels.

But is it wise to go running outside during the lockdown? Fortunately, there are indoor solutions.

Having a treadmill is a blessing and can make it easier to get in some solid cardio. But what if you don’t have a treadmill?

There are two alternatives: running in place and running inside your home (if you have enough space).

Let’s look at them in detail.

The steps to be followed to run in place:

  • Pick a suitable spot. Clear the area by removing all furniture and other objects so you have enough space to move comfortably. This could be anywhere, like an uncluttered garage, workshop, basement or media room.
  • Warm up for 10 minutes with a few active movements like deep lunges and dynamic stretches.
  • Run in place by simply rooting yourself in one spot and pumping your legs up and down. Keep your arms moving, face forward and stand tall throughout your run.
  • Modify your technique by changing direction if you get tired of running in the same way.

The steps to be followed to run inside your home.

  • Map out a route that allows you to move from room to room without stopping. For example, if you have an open floor plan, start in the foyer, run through the living room, kitchen and hallways.
  • Keep your route free from obstacles or substances that might cause you to slip.
  • Track your workout by calculating time instead of distance.
  • Professional fitness trainers advise that you cool down after your workout to lower your heart rate, body temperature and breathing rate to pre-exercise levels.

This is a stressful time for all of us and is putting our patience to the test. But we’re in this together. Stay indoors and fight the novel coronavirus by not letting it affect your mental and physical wellbeing. These are some of the best exercises to manage stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, and incorporating them into your routine will help you stay healthy. Remember, optimism is something we should never let go.