Winter Blues and Pandemic Blues?
It’s no surprise that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected our physical activity levels, not to mention the added mental and emotional burden of living through a global pandemic. It’s usually more difficult to find the time, energy, and motivation to work out our bodies in the dead of winter - cold temperatures, less daylight, slippery outdoor surfaces - and when you combine that with social distancing and gyms and recreation centres being closed, well… it’s enough to make anyone want to hibernate inside.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, our physical activity levels have dropped 33% and our physical inactivity levels have jumped 28%. That means that, not only are we moving less, but we’re also spending more time sitting down (or being sedentary). Unsurprisingly, working from home (for a lot of us) has meant that we’re not taking as many movement breaks to commute back and forth or walk to our favourite lunch spot or go on a coffee run. This is unfortunate because being sedentary is not great for our overall health, not to mention that physical activity has a whole host of benefits for our mental and emotional health, as well.
So, what can you do?
1. Get outside: We know winter is hard, but in Edmonton at least, there’s always going to be a lot of it and you might as well find ways to enjoy it! Incorporate a daily walk around the neighbourhood into your schedule or find a winter activity that you enjoy, be it skating, snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill or cross-country skiing - anything that gets your blood pumping!
Is exercising in the winter safe? Yes, with the proper precautions! The most important thing is to make sure your lungs are protected from the cold air, so cover your mouth with something like a buff and reduce the intensity of your exercise the colder it gets.
2. Use active transportation: Use your body to get to where you need to go! Have you gotten into a routine of ordering takeout from your favourite local place? Us too! Next time you want to place an order for delivery, pick a place within reasonable distance and walk or bike there instead to get yourself moving.
3. Get active at home: There’s no shortage of home workout videos on YouTube or elsewhere that can usually be done in small spaces and with little to no extra equipment. Even short 10-minute bursts of activity can add up over the day and significantly help reduce our sedentary time.
4. Don’t forget to stretch!: Sitting in our makeshift home offices can be hard enough without standing up to a sore back or tight hamstrings. Stretching helps to keep your muscles strong and healthy and improves your range of motion. Try to get up from your desk once every hour for a quick stretch break.
And most importantly, go easy on yourself. Take care of your body and try to get into a modest exercise routine, but remember that we're living through a very difficult time. South Edmonton Physical Therapy & Sport Rehab is here to support you in all your physical and massage therapy needs!