Why it’s more important than ever to be active right now

With so many challenges and uncertainties at the moment, it can be difficult to find the time or motivation to stay active. But moving your body is actually the best thing you can do for you; here’s why…

Man working out at home - setup

Everyone has their own reasons for staying active (or not). But lately, with the situation we're all experiencing, an active lifestyle is more beneficial than ever.

Stress reduction

There are probably a million and one things that are stressing you out right now, so fitting a workout into your schedule may not be high on your list of priorities. Turns out, physical activity can actually help reduce your stress levels. Also, “being active” doesn’t have to mean committing to a one-hour HIIT session - even something as simple as taking a walk, or playing outside with your kids can help bring your stress levels down.

How it works:
- Exercise can cause some of the stress hormones in your body (such as cortisol) to actually decrease. 
- Your body also creates more “feel good” neurotransmitters (endorphins) when you get moving. 
- Participating in a physical activity shifts your focus. Your brain concentrates on what your body is doing instead of stressful day-to-day details.

You could try…
- A quick 20-minute circuit workout.
- Skipping rope for 10 minutes.
- A series of simple resistance band exercises.

woman working out with resistance band.
man doing at-home pilates on a yoga mat

Mental health

While we’re on the topic of brain activity, let’s take a moment to recognize the value of mental health. It can often be pushed aside, but mental health is an essential part of general well being. Check in with yourself regularly and assess how you’re feeling. Stress, anxiety and negative thoughts can easily creep in and, while you can’t avoid these feelings entirely, you can take steps to keep them in check. Regular physical activity can do a lot to improve the state of your mental wellness.

How it works:
- A physical activity can often be done with friends or family, and this human connection can benefit your mental health.  
- Being active sometimes means slowing down. When your brain goes into overdrive, a calming yoga or Pilates session may help ease the tension in your body and your mind.   
- Learning a new skill or practising a new sport can be very empowering. Challenging your brain with a fun and achievable activity can improve your self-esteem and feelings of self-worth.

You could try...
- An at-home yoga/Pilates session.
- A morning walk to clear your head.
- A virtual kickboxing class.

Getting fresh air

It’s normal to spend more time indoors during the winter; but this year, many of us are inside more than ever. Whether you’re working from home (no daily commute), or just socializing less (keeping it in the bubble!); chances are you’re outside less and less these days. Fresh air has so many healthy benefits to offer, and we should all make a point of getting a daily dose whenever possible. Finding ways to be active outdoors can be great for both your mind and your body.

How it works:
- When you’re active outdoors, you’re more likely to breathe deeply, bringing more oxygen into your lungs and allowing your airways to dilate more fully.
- Fresh air can help you feel focused and energized. Our brains can become lethargic after too much time indoors or staring at screens. Stepping outside may help to hit the reset button on your brain function.
- With more oxygen in your blood, your body releases more serotonin (that “feel good” hormone), which is a real mood-booster. Whether you try snowshoeing for the first time, or head out to hit the slopes—chances are you’ll feel happier after spending some time outdoors.

You could try…
- Cross-country skiing in a local park.
- Skating with your kids.
- Helping your neighbours with shovelling (just don’t forget to stretch afterwards!).

Whether you love winter, or prefer to hibernate, there are still so many ways to get active this season. It’s all about doing what feels good for YOU.

Many of us need a little boost to get through this challenging time, and being active actually helps to create that extra energy and motivation. If you want to start small, that’s totally fine—a 10-min session is better than nothing! Find an activity that makes you happy, and then do it regularly.

Share your experience with others, and you’ll probably motivate them to get active too. Let’s get moving!