Make no mistake- managing the uncertainty of the COVID 19 outbreak will require intentional effort and planning. We have suddenly entered a society that looks dramatically different from just a week ago and is unlike anything that (most of us) have experienced before. The constant media reporting of new cases and shifting circumstances, statewide school and business closures, economic insecurity, and the questions of it all can negatively impact our mental and emotional health.
Making a plan for mental and emotional self-care is essential in these times. In addition to being important for your individual wellness, it can help to maintain your health, allowing for an active and engaged lifestyle for you and your family.
If maintaining good health during this time of social distancing and digital connection is the goal, then walking and moving outside can be a winning strategy for you and your family.
Why walk? Walking and moving is free, available right outside your door, and accessible across age and ability. It can help prevent cabin fever and provide a welcome dose of fresh air. Let’s not forget- it’s also fun!
Importantly- walking allows us to get out of our homes while adhering to current public health recommendations for social distancing. The CDC defines social distancing as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”
A household walk can both limit exposure to others while allowing a moment of respite from the confines of home, especially if you carefully choose your walking route and time. It can be a time to explore nature, stretch your legs, and refocus your energies.
Walking and other types of physical activity provide a healthy release of endorphins- feel-good hormones that can help reduce depression and anxiety. It also helps to keep our bones, lungs, and heart healthy, helps to manage chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, and boosts our immune system.
- Want to take your walk to the next level? There are many resources in our digital world offering suggestions for how to mix things up.Consider a Scavenger Hunt with the kids.
- Walk to run an errand or get necessities as allowed by the current guidelines in your local area.
- Schedule a daily walk into your work-from-home agenda. America Walks has long been a virtual organization with all staff working from home. One of our favorite work from home practices is to plug in your headphones and turn a conference call into a walking meeting.
- Be inspired by the Girltrek Movement with over a half a million black women and girls around the country by lacing up your sneakers and taking a “solo-trek” for your personal health and the health of your community.
- Stay current: while outdoor spaces can be a great way to get out of your house and expand your environment, be sure to check how your local government is managing parks and trails during this time since some may be closed to protect workers and prevent the spread of disease.
No matter how you incorporate walking into your life during these difficult times, walking can help us to fulfill our duties and responsibilities to our community. Check-in with yourself, your family, and your neighbors and take good care to maintain health.
Here are more resources for self-care and walking during the COVID-19 outbreak:
- The CDC Tips for Maintaining Managing Stress and Coping During COVID-19 Outbreak
- YouTube is a great source for Indoor Walking Workouts and other home-based physical activity
- What to expect and how to cope with social distancing from the American Psychological Association
- Parent and Caregiver guide to coping with COVID-19
- Taking Care of your Behavioral Health and Tips for Social Distancing from SAMSHA