Why it’s important to stay physically active during the COVID-19 crisis
With gyms closed and people confined to their homes during the COVID-19 crisis in New Jersey, it is important to remain physically active to deal with stress and anxiety and improve mental health.
Brandon Alderman, associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health and director of the Exercise Psychophysiology Lab at Rutgers University, said when people are experiencing cabin fever during Gov. Phil Murphy's stay-at-home order, exercise needs to be a priority.
He said according to guidelines from the CDC, adults should have at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day and children should have one hour of physical activity every day.
Turn music on, climb stairs or do chores around the house, said Alderman. Find creative ways to be active. If a family is going outside in the backyard for some fresh air, gardening is a great form of outdoor physical activity for adults. Alderman suggested one parent garden while the other parent plays with the kids in the yard.
If the weather is not cooperating and a family is stuck in the house, be creative. He said the idea is to connect with loved ones so have that connection while standing. Conversations can be much more engaging when a person is up and walking around rather than sitting.
Alderman also suggested taking breaks. If parents are working from home on computers and kids are sitting at a table doing virtual learning, just remember that our bodies are not meant to sit for long periods of time.
So if a person has been sitting for an hour or 90 minutes, make an effort to walk around the house for 10 minutes or walk around the home for the duration of a song that one enjoys.
Exercise has benefits to the mind and body. It's great for stress, anxiety and depression, he added.
"Exercise and physical activity makes us feel better so we should be aiming for the type of physical activity that we enjoy," said Alderman.
In the throes of the novel coronavirus, people need to focus on the immune boosting benefits of physical activity as well. So everyone should be aiming for that 30 minutes of exercise everyday but they should be doing it at an intensity level that's enjoyable for that person, said Alderman.
He also stressed the importance of practicing self-care, especially when someone feels anxious or feeling under the weather. Incorporating physical activity into our lives, especially in this trying time, needs to be a priority not only for our physical health but for our mental health as well.