Struggling with exercise motivation? Here's why you should keep moving (even during a pandemic)

Posted by for Strong Women

Our bodies and minds are already pretty exhausted from trying to adjust to a new way of life, so it’s OK if exercise has fallen to the bottom of your to-do list. But moving your body in the midst of a pandemic has its benefits…

If you’re anything like us, there will be a gazillion things going on in your head right now: do I have coronavirus? Will I catch coronavirus? Will I give coronavirus to someone else? How can I drown out my housemate’s rap music that’s playing at nightclub level noise while I’m working? How much pyjama can I get away with on a zoom call with my boss? 

For some, getting a workout in right now understandably feels like just another thing to think about. Exercising when the world is in chaos might even feel altogether pointless. 

But it is that exact reason that makes moving our bodies still just as, if not more, crucial than ever. If you’re someone who has always prioritised exercising then throwing it out the window won’t help you feel more calm: studies show that having a daily rhythm helps with low mood and improves our mental health. “During an uncertain time, doing something that’s familiar to you is so important,” says Caroline Bragg, Strong Women ambassador.

So, take this as your reminder that exercise is proven to benefit our mental health. “When you’re just sat at home all day you start to overthink things and you might not be able to control your thoughts,” says trainer and Strong Women ambassador Emma Obayuvana. “When you are exercising you get out of your mind and into your body. It gives your brain some rest and time to reset. You’ll look at situations differently post-workout when your body is full of endorphins.”

The other thing your body will be full of is oxygenated blood, which will help energise you, meaning that the admin you’ve been putting off by staring out of the window might feel slightly easier, and your joints that are tight from sitting over your makeshift working desk loosen. 

Speaking of, exercise will actually help with that bad posture you’ve been adopting: “You want to make sure that you are supporting your body by working your glutes and your back,” says Bragg. “Strengthening certain areas of the body will improve your posture and ease muscle and joint pain.” 

The message? Keeping moving will benefit your mental and physical health, and if that isn’t enough motivation to do so then we don’t know what else is. But if you’re still in need of an extra boot to get out of your seat, try these…

THREE WAYS TO KEEP MOTIVATED TO EXERCISE DURING CORONAVIRUS

RE-FRAME EXERCISE

“Let’s reframe exercise to just being movement,” says Obayuvana. Bear in mind that, in the real world, our rest days from the gym still involve a commute into work, shopping trip or a night dancing with friends, but we can’t even get that basic movement in during life in quarantine. “Whether it’s a simple stretch or a big strength session, understand that your body needs movement to work properly,” Obayuvana adds.

PICK A SKILL

Let’s face it: staring down the barrel of a 12-week workout plan that just involves bodyweight jumps won’t get you excited. “We have more time on our hands, which is perfect to work on improving things that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to,” says Bragg. “Choose an exercise or a skill that you want to really nail, and dedicate these three weeks at home to it.” Seeing improvements is motivation in itself, especially when it’s something you never thought you’d be able to achieve. The Strong Women team are working on handstands and L-sits.

THINK PAST ISOLATION

There’s more to life than how much you can squat, but knowing that you can get back in the gym with a similar strength to what you had before is a great motivation to keep moving. “I know what’s going to happen: the gyms will open and people will go crazy, jumping right back into where they were rather than building back up slowly. Keeping up your fitness will mean that you don’t get injured when you do go back into exercise,” says Bragg.

Follow @StrongWomenUK on Instagram for the latest workouts, delicious recipes and motivation from your favourite fitness experts.

Image credit: Getty

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