Welcome to Day 2 of the 7-day eMentalFitChallenge!
Staying active is important to help manage your stress and anxiety during this difficult time. We are committed to sharing with you some proven tools and strategies for reducing daily stress and anxiety levels. Exercising only takes a small part of your day, but the benefits are long lasting!
Today's subject relates to staying active during Covid-19 and how to determine your exercise intensity and volume?
Wishing you a fine journey through this wonderful eMentalFitChallenge.
The CKA Team
Disclosure: Information in all emails of this eMentalFitChallenge is collated from various sources stated after each article. The main purpose is to present current publications on different subjects related to mental health that may be useful. The CKA / ACK will not be held responsible for any consequences or damages that may occur as a result of the use, misuse, misinterpretation or abuse of the information shared. We emphasize that the aim is to help guide you. Should anyone require guidance in interpreting any of the provided information, they should seek the advice of the proper specialist.
Name it to Tame it
Naming how we feel is good for us on so many levels (see "Understand your emotions, understand yourself"). Here are some tips for building your emotion-naming muscles:
- Check in with yourself and come up with just the right words to describe what you are feeling. (See "7 ways to calm your inner world" for a step-by step exercise) Talk about your feelings. You've got them. We all do. And normalizing talking about them is good for everyone.
- Carve out time to practice. For instance, Dr. Marc Brackett suggests an exercise: watch a movie with a friend. Discuss what the hero was feeling. How did you feel during the movie? How did you feel when it ended?
- Get beyond pat answers when someone asks you how you are. Don't settle for saying "I'm fine" or "I'm ok." Chances are, if you investigate a little, you'll see you're feeling something more specific. Even if it's "bored". Bored is a feeling.
- Social niceties aside, people may actually want to know how you really feel. So go ahead and make that assumption.#GetReal with them. Say it out loud, it will help you process it. Plus, sharing it will give the other person the chance to empathize and even help, if you need them to.
- You can build your emotional vocabulary by searching lists of emotion words on the Internet. See our list here.
- Write it down. When you express your feelings in writing, it can help you become more self-aware. Check out the Mood Meter from Dr. Marc Brackett and the folks at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. It will help you discover how nuanced your emotions are. Dr. Brackett provides an excellent introduction to using the Mood Meter here. You can also get the app.
- If your emotions are overwhelming, persistent and/or are interfering with your daily functioning, it's important to seek mental health support.
Staying Active During COVID-19
The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents some challenges to maintaining a physically active lifestyle. For all of us, young and old, regular physical activity remains an important strategy for staying healthy! Compared to being sedentary, moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with better immune function. Likewise, regular physical activity is associated with lower levels of anxiety and perceived stress.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can make it challenging to maintain a physically active lifestyle. COVID-19 is spread by someone sneezing or coughing into the air or onto a surface, and then the virus enters and infects a new person through their mouth, nose or eyes. The most up-to-date information about COVID-19 can be found on the Public Health Agency of Canada or U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Based on what we know about how the virus moves from one person to another, it is recommended to avoid public gatherings and keep a social distance of 6 feet or more. That, along with advice related to personal care (hand-washing, not touching your face) has created concern about exercising in gyms, where hundreds of people are in and out every day.
Those at greatest risk for severe complications of COVID-19 are: older adults (age 65 and older); people with chronic diseases (such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease); those with compromised immune systems (such as those going through cancer treatment or with HIV). These individuals (and those under "shelter in place" orders) should avoid gyms altogether and exercise at home or in their neighborhood.
For all of us, young and old, regular physical activity is important for staying healthy! Compared to just sitting around most of the time, moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with better immune function. Regular physical activity can help reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety (which many of us may be feeling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic). The Physical Activity Guidelines recommend 150-300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity and 2 sessions per week of muscle strength training.
Fit in 2, 5, 10 or 20 minutes, however and wherever you can. Every active minute counts!
Can Exercise Suppress or Boost the Immune System?
From Nem, www.Tokinesiology.ca
Exercise can have a profound effect on your immune system. Depending on what kind of exercise you are doing, exercise can:
- Suppress the immune system
- Make it more robust or
- It may have no effect at all
In order to maximize the beneficial effects of exercise on the immune system, you need to understand that all exercises are not created equal. Different types of physical activity will affect your immune response in different ways. Going for a 30-minute walk, running a marathon, and strength training will all have different effects on your immune system.
So, what makes these activities different?
There are two main exercise characteristics that you should pay attention to:
- Intensity (e.g. jogging vs sprinting; 20 lbs weight vs 40 lbs weight; 50% your maximal heart rate vs 80% your maximal heart rate);
- Volume (e.g. running 5km vs 42km; 10 repetitions with a 25 lb dumbbell vs 20 reps with a 25 lb dumbbell).
It turns out that (like with almost everything in life) moderation is key. In order to have the strongest and most robust immune system you can possibly have, you should perform exercise at moderate intensities with moderate volume. Any kind of extreme and you start to weaken your immune system.
For example, if you've only been running 10km and then you decide to run 40km, you may suppress your immune system due to the dramatic increase in running volume and intensity.
If you've been lifting weights 2x/week at 2 sets/muscle group/workout then going into 4x/week at 4 sets/muscle group/workout, that extra volume might cause an immuno-suppressing effect.
Research is still not clear whether one bout of intense exercise can significanly decrease immune function. However, we know that performing exercise that's too stressful on our bodies with enough frequency can negatively affect the immune system. This is especially true if you have low glycogen stores, inadequate nutrition, poor sleep and a stressful lifestyle.
You should still be introducing volume and intensity to your workouts regularly, however, do so slowly. This gives your body an opportunity to adapt to the greater level of stress over time so you reduce chances of overloading your immune system.
Read more including what does moderate exercise mean, finding your moderate intensity and you moderate volume.
Today's Exercises for your eMentalFitChallenge
Choose one of these outdoor activities. Aim for 10-20 minutes today!
- Walk or jog around your neighborhood Stay 6 feet away from others
- Go for a bicycle ride
If you have already been going for walks or bike rides, you might be ready to try out some different intensity. Practice taking your heart beat manually to gage your intensity.
- Warm up for 5 min by walking at a comfortable pace then jog or walk briskly for 2 minutes, walk at a slower pace for one minute to recover: repeat 4 times Take your heart beat!
- Warm up for 5 min by cycling at a comfortable pace then cycle for 2 minutes at a moderate speed, cycle for one minute at a slow speed, repeat 4 times Take your heart beat!
You will notice a difference from your heart beat. How different is it between the intense phase and the recovery phase?
Being more active is very safe for most people, however, some people should check with their doctor before they start becoming physically active. If you are planning to become much more physically active than you are now, consult a Kinesiologist to guide you through your process. Find a kinesiologist near you. The CKA will not be held responsible for any consequences related to performing these exercises.
Stay Tuned for Tomorrow's eMentalFitChallenge:
- Taking care of your mental health feelings of fear, stress and worries
- Resistance Training and Cardio
Looking for some more mental health support through exercises?
Find a kinesiologist near you (click here)
For further reading or exercises, visit:
Missed the emails from previous days of the 7-day eMentalFitChallenge, find them here: