COVID-19 has determined what we’ve been able to do for the last several months and will likely continue to do so to some extent for the foreseeable future. Being more active now that restrictions have eased is the best way to reverse the harmful effects of indoor confinement on mental and physical wellbeing. The process of becoming more active and getting back to doing activities previously enjoyed is not always a smooth path ascending towards our chosen goal whether it be couch to 5K or simply getting out and about again to reconnect with friends and family. The following five principles can help to set you up for success:
- Plan your days, balancing physical activity with enough rest afterwards.
- Timetable adequate rest periods as well as physical activity to allow your body to recover and gradually build strength and stamina. Use planning to set yourself up for success.
- Pace yourself during the day and during physical activity.
- Spend your energy wisely – like withdrawing money from a bank don’t spend it all in one go. Think about how long you want to exercise and start by perhaps doing half and adding a bit more time each session as able. Leave some energy for the rest of the day.
- Select a ‘reasonable’ intensity/load when you exercise.
- Make sure you can still maintain a conversation during the activity. If you can only get out two or three words at a time you are working too hard. Overdoing it and feeling exhausted or getting injuries can rapidly undo progress and leave people feeling down.
- Consistency is the key.
- Doing something most days of the week will build fitness and stimulate a strengthening response from the body allowing you to do a bit more each day and restore a sense of wellbeing.
- Consider using wearable technologies to monitor your progress.
- Smartphone apps, watches, pedometers that record steps and amount of time active can be powerful motivational aids to help support your journey.
Authors: Dr. Sean Prescott, Dr. Maria Peer.