In the past two years the massive shift to remote work has had an effect, whether it be positive or negative, on the overall well-being of many. Physical activity can be an outlet for those who have found it difficult to maintain a positive mindset of well-being. Based on a person’s level of activity there are noticeable markers in an employee’s productivity, engagement and overall mental state based on changes in their level of activity. Physical activity has well-established benefits for reducing stress and improving overall mental health, leading to better brain functionality, cognitive thinking, and productivity.

The Coronavirus pandemic affected countries all over the world and has changed people’s lives forever.  A reduction in physical exercise and increase in mental instability has been observed as an overall effect of the pandemic. At the onset of the pandemic, average steps per day declined from 10,000 to 4600, sleep increased 25 to 30 minutes, socializing with family/friends decreased by over half and screen time doubled to over 5 hours per day. An analysis of these alarming statistics suggests that a disruption of physical activity has led to an increase in mental instability. While restoring these habits will have a positive effect upon well-being one must consult with their provider before taking any drastic measure. With the world now returning back to “normal” exercise should be a priority for many reasons:

You know exercise is good for you, but do you know how good?

1. Apart from exercise providing long term health to your physical body, exercise plays a major role in mental stamina and clarity.  Physical exercise has been proven to help relax the mind and provide mental stability through the release of chemicals called dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin.  With the release of these chemicals, one experiences feelings of euphoria and pleasure. These chemicals are also responsible for regulating heart rate, sleep cycles, mood, attention span motivation and pain processing.

2. An additional benefit of physical activity is an overall increase in energy. Our body has three basic energy systems: the phosphagen system, anerobic system and aerobic system. Each system utilizes ATP which is extracted from the different food we consume. While each system of energy is readily available the duration and intensity of exercise determine which system predominates.

3.  Exercise is the stimulus that strengthens muscle and bone tissue. During childhood and adolescence these tissues are constantly growing thus it is highly recommended as we age we continue to stress these tissue with activity like strength training. Numerous studies have shown that an estimated 8 million women and 2 million men in the United States have Osteoporosis. If Osteoporosis is not addressed bones become susceptible  to fracture. Hip fractures, the most serious of them all, has led many to never regain independence. At the end of the day, strong muscle leads to strong bones. Time to start moving your body with purpose!

4. Exercise can reduce the risk of chronic disease! Studies have shown that exercise can improve your heart health and endurance which in turn will aid in weight loss. High blood pressure remains a common concern for many individuals. Regular physical activity strengthens your heart, and with a strong heart more blood can be pumped systematically with less effort. As a result, the force on the arteries decreases hence lowering one’s blood pressure. Diabetes is another concern for many! Consistent exercise helps the body regulate insulin more effectively. During exercise the body store glycogen, which is a form of glucose that is stored in our muscles. When one exercises one’s muscle cells are better able to use available insulin to take up glucose. Become familiar with how your body responds to exercise! 

5. For people suffering from pain the initial response it to stop all activity and rest. While this might seem like an appropriate response movement is considered a form of medicine while recovering. Aerobic exercise on pain management has been studied extensively! Studies have shown that aerobic/anaerobic exercise should focus on the major muscle groups and involve contraction and slow repetition. Resistance should consist around 75% of your one rep max and volume should be modulated to 45 minutes with sets focused around 3 to 4.  

How often should you work out?

1) Talk to you doctor and determine if you have any chronic diseases, you should be aware of before developing a movement routine

2) Get support! Talk to your friends and family! Hire a personal trainer if you struggle with remaining accountable and understand how to tackle your personal fitness goals

3) Start slow and remain consistent! Each week listen to your body. Once you’re in tune with your body decide whether or not you’ll increase your frequency/ intensity

4) Plan ahead! We all live a busy lifestyle! Make exercise a priority by finding times within the week to focus on moving your body!