Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic I had always had great intentions of exercising however I could never manage to pick the exercise program that was most effective for me.

I would make excuses like, “I’m too tired!” or “I don’t have hours to train.”

Just 5% of the adults within the United States exercise 30 minutes every day, as suggested by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

When the world was shut down at the start of the epidemic, I was at home working and was feeling a range of emotions regarding the changes taking place in the world. Since I was a social worker I was aware that I had to learn and apply positive strategies for coping to stay physically and mentally healthy.

At first, I thought about options for exercise. There are a myriad of kinds of physical activities like running, walking aerobics, Yoga and playing sports such as swimming, dancing cycling, gardening and even cleaning! A few days ago, I made the decision to go through an aerobic program I’d used previously. I decided to do the exercises once more by making a plan to exercise for a week with this program.

The first day, I felt exhausted. My muscles were aching and I was unable to keep up with the instructor However, I was reminded that this was a good way to be more healthy, physically as well as mentally. I was aware that exercising would improve my self-confidence and help me relax, and reduce the stress levels I experience because of the pandemic.

The instructor made use of humor and humor, which made the workouts more enjoyable. Finding a workout program I liked made it easier for me to keep the commitment to regularly exercise.

The American Heart Association recommends at minimum 150 mins of moderate or vigorous activity on a daily basis for adults who are healthy.

Based on the American Heart Association, “Physical exercise can improve sleep as well as memory and cognitive abilities and lowers the chance of weight gain, chronic illness such as dementia, depression and weight gain. Exercise is among the most beneficial things you can do to improve your well-being and health.”

If you decide that exercising is the coping strategy that you can best use I would suggest you choose an activity you like Set an specific SMART (Specific measurable, achievable and time-bound) goal, and then give yourself a reward that is positive for achieving each objective. For instance, if you love walking, set a realistic goal of 30 minutes of exercise three times a week for a period of 4 weeks.

Write this goal down on your calendar so that you keep you motivated to continue working towards it.

Be sure to share your goals for fitness with friends as well as family members, who can motivate you. If you achieve your goals be sure to you can reward yourself with something extra.

Set SMART goals to ensure you maintain your fitness levels for the future. Then, enjoy the physical and mental advantages of exercising as a tool for coping.

Lori Powell, LCSW, is a Youth First social worker. Youth First, Inc. is a non-profit committed to strengthening the lives of youth and their families. For more information about Youth First, visit