Working Out During Quarantine And Benefits On Mental Health


Me in my neighborhood park doing my regular workout.

Emiliana Valencia Mejia, Discoverer staff writer

Once quarantine started I saw it as an opportunity to lay back, relax, skip going to the gym, and as a time when many responsibilities could go away. Days started passing by and I realized I was making no healthy choices. I also started realizing that quarantine was not going to be over any time soon. Anxiety and stress started to kick in, but I was doing nothing to help it. It was at this moment when I realized I had to make a change. I had to start balancing watching Netflix and exercising, to stop eating foods that would make me anxious, as well as starting to get active, do chores, or complete my homework. These decisions would improve my mental health.

Working out, exercising, and maintaining your body actively can be some of the best options for maintaining mental health during a lockdown. This is what worked for me and it can work for you too.

Initially, I began incorporating exercise in my quarantine with short workout videos I found on YouTube or Instagram (mainly cardio). As I wasn’t as accustomed to working out at home, I started easy. Starting with 30-minute workouts helped me get my body moving and to start feeling a sense of a routine. I would do them daily, and I rapidly gained a sense of normalcy because before the pandemic I worked out almost daily. After a week or so it had definitely helped my mentality. This made me feel more organized. Starting easy and simple, was the key to my success.

Working out has many benefits like improving balance, strength, and physical agility. Yet the psychological benefits are even more impressive, such as stimulating the growth of neurons, improving cognitive functions and eliminating symptoms of anxiety and depression. “It will allow you to stay active and vigorous, which is very important in times of confinement and little movement,” John Torres, a professional gym trainer, said.

I started feeling more motivated as I saw changes and positive results in my mental and physical health. I started with a program named “Ro54d”, a daily one-hour workout through Instagram Live. It’s a great way to stay active, to do cardio and strength exercises with your own body weight without needing professional equipment. I joined the program and I have been doing it daily for over a month now. 

For someone just starting to exercise at home, I would definitely suggest YouTube videos. There are millions of different routines for every body type, with different intensities, levels, and objectives. Stretching is always important, as it helps keep the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy as well as maintaining flexibility to keep a range of motion in the joints. Starting with simple aerobics movements to get your heart rate up and blood pumping is great and easy to complete at home. You should also do exercises that incorporate your own body weight, like planks, squats, jumping jacks, lunges, and high knees. Even cleaning can count as a workout!

My mentality has changed immensely, and these tiny workouts have helped me have more energy through the day, be more positive, start my days well, and to sweat all my worries, stress, and anxiety away. Try this: a one-hour-long workout divided into five parts – the warm-up, three sets of exercise (whether it is cardio, resistance, or both), and lastly stretching.  It has even been a time of the day to bond with my mom as we do the workout together. I have realized working out is no obligation; it is a decision to make your life better. For me there is no better feeling than finishing a workout and knowing I gave it my all. I pushed even through the hardest days, and I’m on a journey to be happier. 

Keeping yourself active while quarantining can clear your mind, and exercising/working out while staying home is not that difficult. You don’t need equipment or a lot of time; you just need to fit exercise into your schedule. 

Working out has not been the only way I have maintained my body active. I have implemented different ways to do so, such as going to my neighborhood park to take a walk. Minuscule actions like that give me a breath of fresh air, as well as a time to relax and reflect. I have also been using some stairs in my neighborhood to do cardio, as I go up and down several times while jogging, helping me to maintain my blood pumping. Practicing yoga and meditation has helped me cope with anxiety and stress, reminding myself to live one day at a time. Lastly, stretching has helped me release muscle tension.

I have found many ways to stay active around my house only needing a good mindset and my body. It has definitely changed my mentality, making me feel more productive and strong. It has given me a feeling of normalcy, routine, obligation, and motivation.

“Good mental health promotes good physical health,” Dr. Russell G. Buhr, a pulmonologist at UCLA Health, said.