The relationships we have completely broken since the start of the disease The most shocking one is our relationship to our body. A majority of those who are able to work from home have been doing so throughout the last two years, and Americans have seen their average daily steps decreased by 20 percent in one observational study that dates back to 2020. This is likely due in part to the absence of a commute to work (even for commuters who drive who walk to an parking garage can be more strenuous than the walk from your car from bed to the table at the kitchen). This soaring increase of physical exercise has caused people to think of exercise as not just an unwelcome addition to our busy schedules instead of an integral element of our lives.

Emily Kuykendall, a Philadelphia-based HR professional, shared with me that she was never one to exercise because she was struggling to accept the reality that, as an older woman exercising was usually considered a means to alter her body. It was common for her to take a walk at lunch on the campus of her workplace to help break up her day However, this was all she did of any physical activity that was considered to be physically demanding. After that, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition and, when her work life was changed to one with screens as a result of social-distancing measures, she grew more inactive. The complication of these events offered her to consider the ways and what she was motivated to exercise and the benefits it would bring to her well-being. It was the first time that she’d ever thought about it. Kuykendall is 27 years old has said that she began to consider deliberate moving as essential to her overall health and not necessarily about weight loss.

People I talked to acknowledged that the epidemic has transformed their attitude towards exercise, which used to feel like a chore they could never transform into a routine. Kuykendall began to take walks and attend Yoga classes through Zoom in turn, the more she moved and walked, the more she was drawn to move. She said she starts by asking her self: “What do I want to accomplish? Do I like going for an outing? Do I want to dance to music for 5 minutes? Stretch? Nap? All these things help me take into consideration my body’s needs and being attentive to what it desires at the moment.” A mental reframe that any activity (not only intense aerobics, for instance) are beneficial for health is one of the beneficial results of working remotely according to Marissa Goldberg, who consults with businesses on the most effective ways to make remote work working for employees. Prior to the pandemic, many people thought of the possibilities to incorporate exercising into their day as being limited. However, when the internet became a reality for many, and at the same time as gyms across the nation closed, the opportunities for what we viewed as exercise increased. Goldberg, for her part, Goldberg set a timer of 30 minutes every day to wash her house, complete her to-do list of errands, go on the time to walk in the middle of the day to get her mind clear and dance to music.

The process of getting Americans to exercise regularly has been a struggle for a long time. “We are only able to devote the time, energy or time to focus on a few goals at once,” David Conroy, an instructor in human development and kinesiology of Penn State University, told me. “And exercise is a necessity, since rewards can be delayed most people do not consider them as important as other outcomes that might occur in the event we pursued different objectives.” Therefore, the shift in mindset that encourages people to include even a small amount of exercise each day is beneficial. If you see working at home as an opportunity to design your day according to suit your needs, Goldberg told me, it could actually result in better health physically.

In her book, No Sweat The Simple Science of Motivation can Give you a lifetime of health, Michelle Segar, a health coach and researcher who studies the health of people and motivational factors, wrote that encouraging people to be physically active is all about “understanding the best way to select and appreciate daily exercise in any form that feels good to them.” If people realize that taking a walk every day can make them feel good and also satisfies them it is more likely to to continue doing it and perhaps even pursue more exercise. The idea of sticking to a workout routine that you don’t like because it’s what it’s what you’re “supposed” to, or simply because you’re trying to shed weight is a strategy that, for the majority of Americans is almost never rewarded with quick or long-lasting outcomes. Thus, many goals for exercise can be easily dropped.

Smartwatches, which have increased during the outbreak and have been instrumental in changing the way we think about exercise, by rewarding people who perform less strenuous movements. Fitbit for instance, promoted the 10,000-steps-a-day target and will inform you when you’ve not taken at least 250 steps per hour. Additionally, the Apple Watch will note whether you’ve “closed three rings” every day by meeting an calorie-burned target and a step goal and a standing-time target. These are the types of little achievements Eli Diaz, a 28-year-old voice actor from Los Angeles, has had to accept. She was accustomed to getting regular exercise by cycling or taking her wife on a walk to work just a few miles away. However, she informed me by email that she’s been feeling “incredibly inactive” for the past couple of years. It is quite an awe-inspiring experience for the body. When she was at her lowest, Diaz resorted to walking in circles around her living room couch, in brief bursts throughout the days. Diaz said she can’t always do the same exercise routine as she did prior to the outbreak, since she’s immunocompromised and COVID-19 remains an ever-present threat. But she’s now able to see all movements as important: “I’m grateful at this point to be able to exercise in any way.”

Remote work is now a reality for at the very least a portion people, but this attitude regarding exercise may last well beyond the present moment. The era of the pandemic doesn’t mean it’s “normal” working from home, Goldberg said, and the majority of people she’s spoken to feel depressed and sluggish. Goldberg suggests that people begin to track their activity to be aware that if they don’t get up for an hour or take more than a couple hundred steps per day this could be a large one of the reasons for their mood. By doing this remote work can begin the process of figuring out the importance of exercise and the best way to meet this desire. “There’s plenty of mental and emotional physical energy savedby being in your environment,” she said. “It’s something like being able to reconnect with yourself.” Perhaps we can all collectively define what constitutes exercise. While a large portion of our lives remain mediated by screens and our bodies are moved with purpose can serve as an excellent reminder that we are not alone.