Being at home for weeks on end during the COVID-19 lockdown when everything feels uncertain and out of control, has most of our moods dipping. Anxiety is the norm and loneliness prevails as we long for the company of family and friends. Countless jobs are being lost, businesses are closing, there’s a rise in infections and it’s all a little overwhelming.
As we do all that we can to keep safe and cling to the hope of a new tomorrow, we desperately need mood-boosting activities to help retain our sanity through this pandemic. Luckily for all of us, psychologists say that it may be possible to beat depression, anxiety, and loneliness through physical exercise. According to a study that was published by JAMA Psychiatry in January 2020, ‘regular physical activity can independently alleviate depression disorder and boost a person’s overall mood’. But how exactly does exercising boost our mood, especially while home-isolated? Here is how:
It will result in your drinking more water
Research has shown that people who drink at least 10 glasses of water a day are calmer, more content, and have less physical and mental fatigue compared to people who’s intake is less than 6 glasses per day. That is reliable evidence that drinking more water might result in a better mood. But then drinking water regularly might seem like extra work for people who aren’t used to it. That is where physical exercise comes in. When you work out, you will likely feel the urge to drink more water and, knowingly or not, will fundamentally be boosting your mood. I’m a 2 litre a day kind of girl and can highly recommend the benefits of it.
Helps you beat insomnia
Being stuck indoors means that many are taking naps during the day. The disadvantage of that can be severe insomnia for people who struggle to sleep at night. One of the effects of insufficient sleep at night is lowered spirits during the day. The good thing is that studies point to the possibilities of regular exercise being a remedy for severe insomnia. Here are 2 arguments in support of this claim:
1. Intense physical activity has undisputed body-heating effects. When you increase your body temperature by exercising a few hours prior to bedtime, your body reacts by lowering its temperature back to normal. That post-exercise temperature dip may help you fall asleep faster. 2. Most people with severe insomnia suffer from anxiety and depression. Exercising is a proven way of alleviating these symptoms so you sleep better.
More sleep is likely to leave you more productive and with a clearer mind, something I’m always grateful for.
It is a good excuse to get natural light exposure
Increased exposure to natural light will boost your energy and mood levels, and consequently, improve your sleep and overall quality of life. That is why people who stay indoors for too long suffer irritability, distraction, and depression. Unfortunately, we aren’t getting enough natural light these days thanks to coronavirus risks. But if you have space on your balcony or in your garden, or if you live in a scarcely-populated neighbourhood, get out there and run. All forms of cardio get your heart racing. I am currently enjoying the 6-9 am Level 4 SA Lockdown allocated time for exercise, but when this is done I’m thinking of getting a motorised bicycle and taking it out for a long ride each day. It is a great way to not only burn fat and lose weight (after all the lockdown eating), but to boost the spirits too.
Helps you cultivate healthy relationships
It has come to light that many couples are struggling now that they are spending 24 hours together, rather than 3-5 hours tops on normal days. When there is personal conflict your mood always deteriorates. Working out together as a couple or as a family will certainly help improve your mood. Being at home all day long can make it hard to keep track of your time and how much of it is spent watching TV or on your phone. Right now may be the best time to work on your time management skills and explore where your time goes. It is a great possession to have and one worth monitoring.
It is a good way of alleviating emotional exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion often results from prolonged stress. Many people are currently feeling emotionally worn-out and drained due to the uncertainties of the coronavirus, and trapped by how little control we have on our lives and careers. Increased physical activity raises endorphins and serotonin levels in our body, which in turn can boost our emotional wellbeing. It also helps to take our minds off the news and the constant feeling of hopelessness.
Physical inactivity during this pandemic can have detrimental impacts on both our mental and physical health. Make a point of exercising for at least 30 minutes per day, especially given that there are plenty of at-home workout ideas online. And once the quarantine season is over, you’ll have developed a healthy fitness routine that you can adapt and benefit from for the rest of your life.