Staying Healthy During the Pandemic

Jacob Duran

Since we first heard the word “coronavirus,” most of our daily lives have changed dramatically. COVID-19 has altered the way many of us exercise, closing down gyms and canceling sports. During these difficult times, staying mentally and physically healthy can prove to be hard. But there is still hope. It is important to be aware that there are many ways to improve our health—even in the middle of a pandemic.

Regular exercise is directly related to mental health. So, although it is hard, exercise pays off. According to the Australian Government Department of Health, exercise releases mood-boosting chemicals, including endorphins and serotonin. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 has affected many people’s mental health. In the midst of the pandemic, exercise, along with the happiness that it creates, are more important than ever.

The Red & Black conducted a survey asking people whether their exercise routines have changed during the pandemic – and whether that change is positive or negative. Some people have been lucky, with their sports remaining unaffected by the pandemic, but most have been forced to change their routines.

Of the people we interviewed whose exercise routines changed, 52% said they have changed for the worse, while 48% said they had changed for the better. Faced with this surprisingly even number, it is clear that people have found ways to improve their routines—often from home.

Some students benefited from the increased flexibility of these at-home routines, working out late in the evening or after doing homework. Other people, like West student Abdoulaye Maiga, depend on their friends to get some exercise. Abdoulaye and her friends have been able to meet up outdoors and exercise together: playing soccer, basketball, or other team sports.

Siaka Badjie, a sophomore at West, depends on his basketball team for exercise. “When we don’t have practice, I don’t really get the chance to work out,” he said.

With constantly updating forecasts and climbing numbers of COVID-19 cases, it is difficult to maintain a consistent routine. However, there are still things we all can do to stay healthy.

Those who aren’t members of a sports team can set personal fitness goals and exercise from home. For example, you could set the goal to do one hundred push-ups every day. If your maximum is five push-ups in a row, do that four times a day, and you will have twenty. From there on out, the only obstacle to improvement is consistency.

Are you already good at push-ups? How about working on your squats, sit-ups, pull-ups, or anything else you want to improve? The time in-between classes is the perfect opportunity to do this. According to the American Psychological Association, disconnecting from the computer screen has been proven to be beneficial. Taking the time to exercise between classes can improve your mood and prevent burnout.

The pandemic has been a bleak part of our lives for the past ten months, but with these setbacks come new opportunities to change our lifestyles for the better.