With a stay-at-home order in place across West Virginia, it’s a critical time to add exercise to your daily routine, says a physical activity expert at West Virginia University.
In addition to outdoor activities such as biking and walking, there are plenty of ways to increase physical activity at home, according to Eloise Elliott, Ware Distinguished Professor at the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences.
“Research has shown that people who regularly exercise have a lower incidence of infection that those who are inactive," Elliot says, "and physical activity also reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones that may also protect against illness.
"Also, physical activity simply boosts your mental health and just makes you feel better.”
Elliot suggests it’s a critical time to add exercise to your daily routine to strengthen your immune system and manage stress during the tumultuous COVID-19 pandemic
April is also "National Move More Month," she says, a national initiative to encourage U.S. citizens to engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day.
“There are many benefits of movement, especially in moderate to vigorous physical activity, and some of those that are especially important in this critical pandemic time include strengthening your immune system and managing stress, and protecting your long-term health.”
Several of the compromising maladies that increase risks of COVID-19 complications may also be remedied by exercise, Elliot says.
“Physical activity helps in reducing the risk of developing health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, some cancers, and obesity," she says. "For children especially, being active every day can help improve their health-related fitness—cardiorespiratory endurance, building strong bones and muscles."
In fact, youth, in particular, should be encouraged to be active, she says.
“If you are a parent, you know that some children just innately move all the time, but others need some encouragement and motivation to be physically active, especially now with all the screen devices that allow for communicating with friends, playing games and watching endless hours of entertainment.
"Take a closer look at the amount of screen time hours in which you and your family members engage.”
Elliot says it often doesn't take a financial investment to increase activity.
“You don’t need expensive equipment or someone else to be the role model. Anyone can support and encourage family members to be physically active.
Besides the typical outdoor activities, such as walking, biking, playing yard games, etc., don’t forget that doing chores around the house count, too—a good lesson for children, she says.
"But as a previous teacher, mother of four, and grandmother of seven, I know good ideas from others are very helpful as well. With the internet and social media outlets, those ideas are being posted every day."