Working out in a year that just isn’t working out: managing your mental and physical strength

Alyson Furstenau ‘21, Photo Editor

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise, you may be hesitant to workout at the gym. If you are struggling trying to figure out how to maintain or improve your mental and physical health during these unprecedented times, the answer may be closer than you think. In fact, it may be found in your very own home. 

Mental and physical health go hand and hand, which is why it is just as important to pay attention to your physical health as it is to your mental health. Taking time away from daily responsibilities to engage in some sort of physical activity is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle—one that you feel good about. Senior Max Honiss said, “I never stopped working out when the pandemic started because I just got back from states for wrestling and was still feeling in shape and didn’t want to lose it.” He continued, “I ran a lot during all of this to clear my mind and to listen to music. I started with small runs and built up to an 8 mile run that I do once a week. And as far as the other stuff goes I made it up on my own using all of the workouts I’ve done in the past to do the stuff that works for me. If I didn’t workout though all of this, the pandemic would have been much harder to get though.” Finding a workout regimen that accommodates all of one’s needs can be a long process, but once a balance between physical activity and daily responsibilities has been found, you will find that exercising can really boost your mental health. During the pandemic when our spirits need to be lifted more than ever, integrating physical activity into our daily routine could be the first step in the right direction. Here are the answers to some of your questions:

What do I do if I can no longer workout at the gym like I used to?

With the gyms being a breeding ground for germs and bacteria, transitioning from working out at the gym to in your own home may have been a difficult adjustment to make. Mrs. Richelle Martin, Physical Education teacher at South Lyon High School, said, “I make an effort to do some physical activity everyday. I am fortunate to have a home gym and really enjoy weight training. I also do daily walks [in] rain, snow, or shine with my dog, Walter.” To truly see results in your physical health, you must commit to it. Like Martin, dedicating part of your day to physical activity is what cultivates a healthy lifestyle. 

I don’t have any workout equipment at home. Can I still exercise?

Absolutely. You do not always need equipment to exercise so long as you are working the right muscles efficiently. Some of the best workouts can be found on YouTube; not only are there millions to choose from, but you have access to professional physical trainers for no cost. Whether you are looking for high intensity (HIIT), core, legs, arms, cardio, etc., there is a video that will suit your needs. Examples of popular fitness YouTubers include but are not limited to: Chloe Ting, Bailey Brown, The Fitness Marshall, and Pamela Reif.

Most of my physical activity comes from my sport, but now that we can’t practice, what should I do?

Millions of athletes across the country have been forced to put their passion on hold, and naturally, this has been a struggle for those of us who use our sport as an outlet for stress. Although the athletes at SLHS cannot practice and compete right now, some have found ways to make staying in shape a team effort. Senior Tyler Hinkson, assistant captain on the South Lyon United Varsity Hockey team, said, “A big and important part of the early weeks for hockey is the conditioning, which gets us ready when we get into the bulk of our season’s games. Since we can’t condition together right now, our coaches decided to start the COVID Cup to keep the team physically active.” He added, “In short, each captain is in charge of his own team with four other players and a coach on it. We have an entire list of workouts, and each player is required to complete multiple workouts a day. These range from running a couple miles to shooting hockey pucks. Each workout has a corresponding point value, and by completing a workout your team receives those points. By the end of the tournament, whichever team has more points wins the trophy as well as some prizes along with it.” The hope is that when sports resume, the South Lyon Unified Hockey team can hit the ground running and bring home some wins. Although you do not have to organize an entire tournament for your team to compete, motivating each other to stay in shape will give you the outlet you need to stay active and relieve some of the stress that accompanies virtual learning. 

How do I stay motivated to continue working out?

One of the most difficult parts of working out is sticking to a routine and not straying from it. Burnout is easy to fall into and hard to get out of, which is why it is so important to find a regimen that is enjoyable and diverse in its activity. So do you want the secret to preventing burn out? Lucky for us, SLHS Physical Education teacher Mr. Eric Williams has the answer. Williams said, “I have done my best to make physical activity a normal part of my everyday routine. Changing up what I do helps keep it fresh and prevents a burn out.  I want to be in good health for my family but also want to set a good example for them.” A routine with no flexibility will not keep you motivated. Instead, build a workout schedule that diversifies a bit each day.
Do not allow the current challenges get in the way of you and your mental and physical health. The first step is improving personal commitment. No excuses. Finding a routine that you enjoy and that also allows you to experiment with different exercising techniques will ensure that you look forward to the next time you exercise. This is not the time to give up on yourself. Start a workout regimen now, and you will have lasting results that improve both your mental and physical health.

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