It’s no secret that 2020 has been a difficult year of new rules, uncertainties, and plummeting motivation, especially when it comes to fitness.
The coronavirus has interfered with our daily lives, and for many of us, it has also affected our mental and physical health. As daily routines remain restricted during the pandemic, it can be difficult to find the motivation to exercise. However, with a bit of planning and prioritizing, you can make 2021 all about new fitness goals and a positive outlook on personal health.
Why it’s important to exercise during the pandemic
You may have noticed changes in your sleeping and eating patterns, feelings of depression and anxiety, and an overall lack of motivation this year. With the pressing health concerns for our community, the many individuals suffering job loss, and businesses taking a hit from COVID-19, staying active and on top of your fitness goals may seem like much less of a priority lately.
However, even a small amount of physical activity can make a large difference in the way you feel! In fact, studies have shown exercise to be an effective tool in managing stress, anxiety, depression, and even ease symptoms of social withdrawal.
By staying motivated and finding new ways to exercise during the pandemic, you can regain a sense of control during this time of uncertainty.
You don’t have to replicate what you were doing before lockdown
The unfortunate reality is that gyms are unlikely to be fully operational for the next few months. Across the GTA, many gyms and fitness centers have been forced to open with limited capacity or have shut down altogether.
Whether you were a gym lover or someone who just endured it, having these limitations can be a good chance for you to change up your exercise routine. For example, if you used to run as a warm-up exercise, try increasing the distance and making it your primary activity. Without access to all your usual training equipment, you can also experiment with different weights, sets and reps, or add a tempo to your exercise to make it more challenging. Having a new regime can be fun and inspire a passion for training that can continue even when everything is back to normal.
Make exercise a priority by setting goals
Although limited access to a gym and equipment may interfere with your original fitness plans, you don’t need a lot of resources to stay fit and healthy! You may just need to rethink your priorities and start intentionally making time for physical activity.
One of the ways to help you remain dedicated to your workout regime is goal setting. Goals give you something to focus on and can help you break through a fitness and/or weight loss plateau.
Here are some tips for making SMART fitness goals:
Specific: Your fitness goals should be clear and easy to understand. A common goal, such as “be healthier,” is too general. Instead, state specific objectives that you wish to meet such as: “I will do an online exercise class three times a week.”
Measurable: Tracking your goals with quantifiable numbers makes it much easier to see whether you’re progressing. This method can help to motivate you to stick towards your fitness routine. Some examples of measurable fitness goals are:
- Achieving a set number of repetitions of an exercise
- Losing a specific amount of weight
- Completing a run with a set distance
Attainable: Whether they are long-term goals or short-term goals, your goal should be ambitious but realistic. Work towards something that you believe is attainable—you know yourself best!
Relevant: The goals you set must be relevant to you. Consider your current lifestyle, resources, and priorities, and think about why you want to achieve your goal. Are you exercising to feel less stressed? Do you want to be stronger and healthier so that you can be more active with your children? Setting goals that suit your lifestyle will help you stay committed to your exercises.
Time-bound: Create a time frame for completing your goal. Having a start time and a deadline allows you to easily determine if your goal has been achieved. It also motivates you to get started if you know that the clock is ticking!
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, many of us are experiencing reduced motivation during this unprecedented time of stress. Although you may miss your local gym and recreational facilities, hiking with friends, and the camaraderie of group exercise classes, it’s important to stay on top of your fitness goals.
While staying at home, our physical activity is much more limited—which is why it’s more important than ever to make personal health and fitness a priority. Although it may take some time and effort to adjust to a new workout regime, regular physical activity will help improve your physical and mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.