As winter settles in and it seems like every has some sort of bug or another, exercising safely can feel overwhelming. Feeling unmotivated or not knowing socially distant options might be preventing a more active lifestyle.
But regular activity helps your body fight disease, along with a bunch of other benefits to your emotional and mental health.
According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, regular physical activity reduces your risk of catching a viral infection. That’s because exercise enhances an immune system’s ability to regulate itself.
- Supports your immune system
- Regulates stress hormones to minimize stress
- Helps you sleep better
- Reduces your risk of chronic disease
- Decreases anxiety and depression
- Encourages weight loss
- Boosts feelings of confidence and self-esteem
- Strengthens your brain
You don’t have to run a marathon or swim laps every day to improve your health. A simple walk can do it. “Walking has a lot of great health benefits. Even a brisk walk increases your heart rate,” says Mike Wellsandt, PT, DPT, OCS. “Any steps are better than no steps.”
The following socially distant activities all support your immune system.
How to work out (without going to the gym)
- Try some home exercises. You don't need weights or machines to get your heart rate up and your muscles moving. The weight of your own body can be plenty of resistance for exercises like dips, squats, planks, push-ups and more. Plus you can do these bodyweight exercises anywhere!
- Explore the city with a bike ride. Cycling is an excellent low-impact (easy on your joints) exercise. From your bike you can explore new areas while pushing your physical and mental limits.
- Learn a new dance. Dancing is a great way to bring joy to your workout. If you're not sure how to move in rhythm or what to do with your hands, try a choreographed video to get started! Try this easy-to-follow dance to "Can't Stop the Feeling.”
- Take a walk or hike. Omaha has more than 120 miles of paved trails for walking and jogging. You don't have to spend a lot of money to enjoy outdoor fitness – walking requires no equipment aside from supportive shoes.
Try joyful movement
If you’re not a fitness buff, there’s something everyone can enjoy, no matter your weight, age or fitness level. Joyful movement is any positive experience you choose that encourages awareness of the body and the possibilities of movement.
Joyful movement can include:
- Dancing in your kitchen while cooking dinner
- Walking the dog
- Doing cheesy 80s aerobics
- Climbing a tree
- Doing yardwork
- Engaging in daily yoga
- Anything that makes you feel good and strong within your body
This practice means moving your body in a way that feels good, rather than a punishment to be suffered through. Forget the myth of "no pain, no gain" and find an activity that warms your heart and mind as much as it does your body.
For more ideas and tips, see this article on how to exercise at home.
Exercise is the third and final “pillar of health” that helps improve your overall health. These three pillars work together to support your immune system:
- Sleep helps your immune system fight infectious diseases
- Food helps your body reduce inflammation
- Exercise improves your mental, emotional and physical health