News & Insights 20 March 2020

Why activity is vital for your mental wellbeing during COVID-19

For the vast majority of us, the coming weeks and months will be far different from anything we have ever experienced so far in our lives. We are all coming to terms with the increasing daily use of seemingly apocalyptic language such as ‘Quarantine,’ ‘Self-Isolation’ and ‘Lockdown,’ as the reality of just how COVID-19 will impact our society edges closer with every passing day. Whilst these terms may sound scary at first, they simply mean we will need to adapt to a new way of living our daily lives.

So why is staying active so important? The government has made it very clear that some of the measures being implemented are likely to have a detrimental impact on health, raising particular concerns for mental wellbeing due to the reduction of social contact and the guidance to spend more time in isolation inside our homes. In addition to this, the high level of uncertainty surrounding the current situation has the potential to induce stress, anxiety, depressive thoughts, and a general reduction in mood. A recent article in The Conversation also touched on how social isolation can lead to increased levels of chronic inflammation within the body, which in turn is linked to a number of long-term health conditions.

The link between physical activity and improved mental wellbeing is well established and backed up by a significant base of scientific evidence which continues to grow. Regular activity is known to help reduce stress, relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, and play a crucial role in the regulation of mood. There are thought to be a number of mechanisms behind these benefits, ranging from psychological adaptations such as increased self-esteem and self-efficacy, to physiological adaptations such as changes to how our bodies respond to stress hormones and increased blood flow to the brain.

The introduction of social distancing measures will require us to change the way we think about activity. Group activities and team sports may no longer be suitable and it might be that we must shift our thinking from more traditional ‘exercise’ to everyday activities that can be achieved within our own homes. The crucial part however, is to ensure that activity remains a solid foundation within our everyday lives. In fact, now is as important time as any to ensure we stay as active as possible. This is echoed in the words of Chief Medical Officer and expert advisor behind the government’s response to the virus, Professor Chris Witty, who suggested that staying active “is a very good thing to do” during this time.

Fortunately, at KiActiv® we know that physical activity is multi-dimensional. Activity can come in all sorts of different forms from everyday activity such as vacuuming the carpet, doing the washing up or tending to the garden, right the way through to more intense structured activity such as a 5km run, it’s all beneficial to our health! Figuring out exactly what works for us, particularly in times such as those we are faced with today won’t happen overnight. It’s about finding something you enjoy, sticking at it and looking to gradually increase the amount you are capable of doing, whatever that may be. Sustaining any kind of improvement you make to your overall level of activity will have countless benefits for your physical and mental well-being, so what better time to start than today.

The KiActiv® Team