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The Science of HappinessMJ O'Leary
Most people know that exercise has been shown to improve mental health by reducing anxiety and depression. Experts recommend we exercise regularly in order to stay healthy and positively boost our mood — of critical importance always, but especially in today’s StayHome era.
Exercise means different things to different people. For my college-aged son, going for a solo run is the best way to beat stress and release those feel good endorphins we all desperately need right now. For my neighbor, it’s an online yoga class where, within the confines of her home, she can find 15 minutes of soothing escapism.
Some suggestions for in-house exercise options to help keep a consistent exercise routine while in quarantine:
Exercise buddies make us accountable with shared goals and progress, not to mention it’s just more fun!
This buddy can be someone inside your household, or a virtual buddy outside of your home. Consider reaching out to older or isolated family members and friends. My social distance exercise buddy is my senior citizen mom, who before #stayhome guidelines was attending local library exercise classes multiple times a week.
To keep my mother and me connected and physically engaged, I adopted weather-permitting “FreshAir FaceTime,” or FAFT, for short. Simply stated, it’s a FaceTime call (but can be an audio-only call if you prefer) where both parties go outside to walk in their respective spaces, keeping connected through the phone/video.
My mother and I share everyday miracles like the pale pink petals falling from a blossoming tree, creating a beautiful floral blanket near her driveway. My mom laughs at my dog’s appearance on FaceTime, Foxy wagging her tail in absolute delight when she hears the sound of my mother using her best doggie voice: “Foxy is such a good girl!”
Most if not all gyms around the country are closed, which has forced a new wave of interest in online exercise. Ask your quaranteen to find an online video that appeals to them, and then exercise together.
My husband, 18-year-old son and I recently did a “Family Fun” dance cardio video where we flapped our wings like birds and did bear walk lunges. The instructor bellowed, “Reach higher than the grown-ups!” and our abs got an extra workout from the cascade of laughter.
Many gym owners, forced to close due to virus restrictions, have adapted and re-emerged with online classes. My Pilates instructor designed a private Zoom exercise class for me and my mother, catering specifically to an elderly person's needs. Voila! The new Mommy ‘n Me class, 2020 COVID-19 edition.
If you don’t have an exercise instructor in your social sphere, be your own best motivator. You’ve seen many people post photos of their virtual happy hours on Zoom. Why not start your happy hour with 15 minutes of cardio? Pick a participant to crank up the tunes and watch everyone bust out their most creative moves. Water and an adult beverage afterwards to hydrate!
If you haven’t done so already, dabble in the world of TikTok with your kids. Unfamiliar with this new (well, to my generation, anyway) sensation? TikTok is likely your teen’s latest obsession; 15–60 second dance, lip-sync, comedy/talent videos. My first experience with TikTok was after I convinced my son to have a “dance party” six feet apart. He was so enthralled with my mom moves that he asked me to join him in a quarantine Macarena. Finally, my dance training from ages 4–8 years old paid off. Laugh with (or at!) me at vm.tiktok.com/sfj31h.
Turn household chores into household dance parties. Ask Alexa to play your favorite song, or crank up “Cleaning Kit” playlist on Spotify. No reason you can't bust a move while loading dishes or vacuuming.
As they say, this too shall pass. In the very long meantime, let’s keep moving and grooving.