3 Tips to Make Exercise a Habit During COVID-19
Illustration of people exercising

If there was ever a time to exercise, this is it, and here’s why!

Stress and anxiety levels are at an all-time high during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of where the stress is coming from (health, finance, isolation), when it reaches a tipping point, it activates our natural fight-or-flight response.

Short term, this response is incredibly effective and protective. The rise in cortisol and adrenaline increases our heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar, providing energy to fight or flee.
Long term, these sustained measures are problematic. First, they increase our risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and second, they negatively impact other body systems. High stress levels make it difficult to sleep, they impact digestion, and even worse a sustained fight or flight response can suppress our immune system.

What does this have to do with exercise?

Exercise is one of the most clinically proven methods to manage stress and lower the rise in cortisol and adrenaline that follow. According to Harvard Health, exercise may also enhance the immune system by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and protective substances to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently. It can also promote better sleep and stimulate the production of endorphins to improve one’s mood and well-being.

How do I get myself to exercise?

Stanford behavior scientist, Professor B.J. Fogg, states that behavior change requires a combination of motivation, ability or access, and a prompt (B = MAP ). With that in mind, try these 3 tips to make exercise a habit.
1. Schedule It
Schedule exercise sessions in your calendar like an appointment. Do this at the beginning of the week or the start of your day. Make sure to set reminder notifications 15 minutes ahead. This is your prompt.
2. Identify Your Motivation

Motivation levels fluctuate and you can expect this to be even more so during a crisis. Take time to reflect on what will inspire you to exercise. Write down your motivators and keep that list handy to remind you why exercising matters. Is it weight loss, increased energy, strength, reduced pain, or the vitality to play with your grandchildren? Review your list daily.

Does music move you? Create a playlist to ignite your senses. Will having an accountability partner help? Recruit friends or family to check in and help you stay on track!

3. Get Started
The best exercises are those you find enjoyable and fun. If you enjoy walking or biking, then lace up the sneakers and head outside – be safe and maintain social distancing of course. If you like to dance, then dance! Like gardening? Now is a great time to clean up the flower and vegetable beds. There are also classes and workouts on YouTube and Instagram that you can try for FREE. Want to try a mini circuit workout like the one we have attached here?
Make exercise about feeling good, managing your stress, and supporting your immune system. Any amount is better than none, just be sure to exercise while you are sheltering-in-place during the COVID-19 pandemic.