Exercise can help mental fitness as well as physical during quarantine

Posted at 3:21 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-17 21:52:46-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Gyms across Corpus Christi have been closed for over a month now, and with people stuck in their houses exercising can be a challenge.

Brian Mandel is a manager and coach at Main Gate Fitness in Corpus Christi.

Like many gyms, they have shifted to virtual classes during the coronavirus pandemic.

He said exercise may be more important now than ever, not just for your physical health, but also for your mental well-being. Exercise releases endorphins in your brain -- even something as simple as going on a walk can do the trick.

“If you just stay in the house the whole time and don't move, you are going to get a little stir crazy. Your body wants to move, your joints need to move, your muscles need to move." Mandel said. "So it’s important to set aside time to move for your mental health."

And if you don't have exercise equipment like weights or exercise machines available, don't sweat it. You can probably use items you already have around your house.

“You don’t need a dumb bell, you don’t need a squat rack," he said. “A case of sodas, a jug of water, a cooler -- a paint can as a kettle-bell. Get creative and think about what you can use. Fill up a backpack full of books, or a suitcase, and try holding that for a minute. I promise you you’ll get a good feeling out of that.”

Mandel said having a designated time and space to exercise is key.

“Set out some time and set out a space. And say, 'okay I’m going to use this space to move. Just moving in itself releases a lot of endorphins," Mandel said.

Another at-home fitness tip: make it fun.

“You’re probably stuck in the house with your kids so challenge them," Mandel said. "See who can hold a plank the longest. See how many air squats you can do in a minute or 90 seconds. And re-test that number. Maybe put a bet on it."

But still, one of the biggest challenges for those of us at home can be finding inspiration to get started.

Mandel's advice is to just get moving.

"Just do something," he said. "Even if it's a five minute walk or ten minute walk."

And as far as nutrition goes:

"Since you're stuck at home, you're not moving around as much so your daily calorie requirement is not going to be as high as it would if you were moving around during the day. So I say prioritize protein, produce and water."