“The public should avoid gatherings larger than 10 people.”  This is the latest advice to protect ourselves from the coronavirus (COVID-19). Or, if you live in California like me, the latest orders are to stay home.

I am sitting at my home desk realizing that I cannot go to either my co-working office space or gym. I wonder how to best prepare myself for being at home more than I would like. I find myself reading news feeds and anxiety becomes my co-working office mate.

Overwhelming anxiety makes action a distant friend

The prefrontal cortex area of the brain is impacted by our perception of our environment which, if negative, can  lead to anxiety and fear. When our environment prompts anxious thoughts, our brain responds with increased heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure and body temperature. If you have found yourself feeling this during these times, you are not alone. Negative energy builds up and we become paralyzed with fear. Here is your best medicine:


Tune into your curiosity superpower and let physical activity be your best friend in these unprecedented times. How can you re-define what physical activity can be for you during these uncertain and isolating times?

Research indicates that even a 10-minute walk outside can positively alter brain chemistry. In fact, The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that even 5 minutes of activity can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.

In her book, The Joy of Movement, Kelly McGonigal, PhD, talks about research on the endocannabinoid system. These chemicals help alleviate pain and boost moods. There is research suggesting physical activity at a moderate intensity may trigger the release of these chemicals. This points to how physical activity can be a valuable tool not only in for depression and anxiety, but in the treatment of chronic pain as well.

What I have seen in the 40 years of working in this industry, is that aside from the physical and psychological benefits of exercise, there are other reasons that keep us moving. Moving with others creates a sense of community and belonging. Exercise itself often becomes secondary to experiencing fellowship with others.

The CDC encourages us to social distance for the sake of COVID-19. I prefer to use the term “physical” distance. During this mandated self-isolating period, it is still possible to connect with others.

Here are 5 ways to stay socially connected through physical activity during this COVID-19 lockdown:

  1. Go for a walk with a friend (being mindful of your distance).
  2. Walk outside and talk with a friend over your smartphone.
  3. Schedule a Zoom call with a group of friends while going for a walk.
  4. Walk without headphones and (distantly) interact with others in your neighborhood.
  5. FaceTime with your friends while on your treadmill.

What I know for sure is that there are times in our lives where we need to adjust how we exercise. Job changes, injury, pregnancy, or caregiving for an aging parent are all situations that call for re-evaluation. This COVID-19 era is an opportunity to use curiosity in the face of uncertainty.

In his speech entitled, “Beyond Vietnam,” Dr. Martin Luther King states, “Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter-but beautiful-struggle for a new world.”

Let physical activity be your grounding habit to navigate our uncertain world.

If you need ways to figure out how to keep moving while at home, schedule a call with me. I offer online training programs and health coaching programs to help you stay active at home. We are in this together.