5 Tips to stay active and remain calm while “social distancing” this month


By Callista Ottoni @CallistaAnne

Globally, everyone is grappling and re-calibrating their personal and professional lives in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak and prevention. As healthcare professionals, folks are likely calling on your professional opinion. You may also be working double time to adjust training and treatment plans of athletes. That’s why the focus of this blog is to support your health. Here are 5 tips to stay active and maintain mental-calm while social distancing:

  1. Call someone to be your activity buddy:

Disruptive circumstances may make it extra tough to keep active. Research shows that being accountable to someone else encourages regular exercise. Recruit a friend (on the phone), with whom you can share your physical activity goals for the week. Schedule a call to check-in on your progress.

  1. Deep clean your house!

When it comes to being active, small activities accumulated throughout the day, count just as much as organized physical activity. Now is the perfect time to do that extra dusting (include the plank position as you reach under the cabinet) and floor polishing (incorporating squats)–call it early spring cleaning!

  1. Walk to drop-off groceries on the doorstep of a neighbour in-need.

If you aren’t in a high-risk health category, check-in with your neighbours to see if anyone (especially a senior) needs a few groceries, or home supplies. Walk to deliver the groceries on their doorstep. If you have the energy (and your country isn’t in lockdown), continue on a brisk walk.

  1. Discover new online resources.

These days, there are many free exercise, and yoga classes online. Capitalize on your newly cleared presentation schedule to research and find one that looks fun.

  1. Relax your breath.

In my experience, mindful breathing is super helpful to feel calm. Try this: 1. Find a comfortable seated position. 2. Put one hand on your chest and one on your belly. 3. Take a few slow breathes in and out. Feel both your chest and belly expand. 4. If you don’t feel dizzy (in which case stop immediately and resume normal breathing), trying inhaling through your nose while counting to 4 in your head, then exhale through your nose while counting to 4 in your head. Repeat 5-10 times. For instruction on different breathing activities I’ve used Carolyn Anne Budgell’s free guided meditations.

While we all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19, we hope these tips help keep you calm and active.

Competing interest: Callista Ottoni is former BJSM blog editor (2010-2017) and received payment from BMJ Publications during that time. She has no paid role with BJSM now.

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