Staying Mentally and Physically Healthy During Finals in Lockdown

Edited: Vlada Taits

In the time of online learning and shutdowns, it can be very difficult to find the time and space to maintain your physical health and workout; this only exacerbates during finals period. For high school and college students especially, busy schedules, extracurriculars, and afterschool jobs make it hard to find the time to take care of oneself, however, this is even more important in a time when we’re all stationary for long hours at a time. One of the best ways to beat “Zoom fatigue” as it’s being called is through exercise, as this not only keeps the body strong and active but the mind too. In this article, we’re going to show you which exercises are most beneficial to improve memory and cognitive function, so that working out during the finals period is beneficial for your mind and body. We’ll also discuss specific meditation and mindfulness practices you can do to center your thoughts, de-stress, and reduce anxiety. 

 

The first step to finding the ideal workout routine for finals period is to break down different types of exercise. The two main forms of working out include muscular exercises, for example, curl-ups that strengthen the abs, or lifting, which strengthens the biceps, and cardiovascular or aerobic exercises which focus on the intake of oxygen, for example running on the treadmill, biking, or hiking. A blog from Harvard University states that exercises like the latter, the focus on the lungs are more beneficial for higher brain functions as they provide “a boost in the number of blood vessels and synapses, increasing brain volume, and decreasing age-related brain atrophy” as well as having “more localized effects in brain areas related to thinking and problem solving” (Harvard Health). The article also suggests that these cognitive benefits can also be attained through low-intensity workouts such as resistance training and yoga (Harvard Health). 

 

This brings us to our next health-related activity to push through finals: mindfulness. Yoga is a great starting point, as it brings together both physical and mental health, activating the body and mind. For beginners to yoga, Youtube channels like “Yoga with Adriene” are great places to start, as they guide you through roughly half-hour to forty-five-minute lessons centering your mind and body. Additionally, yoga cards, which outline different poses, how long to hold them for, and their benefits, can be ordered on Amazon, so you can create your own sequence adaptable to your ability level and time commitment. For specifically mental-based healing and relaxation, Youtube channels like “The Honest Guys” provide mediations of various lengths targeting different needs, some guided meditations to reduce anxiety, and others delta waves to reduce insomnia. 

 

So what does this look like for you? Even if your college town is in lockdown due to the pandemic, you can still achieve these physical and mental benefits of working out. As mentioned earlier, hiking is a great way to strengthen your cardiovascular system but also your mind. Even in city campuses, like Toronto for example, there are options for this such as the Brickworks, which offers trails to walk on. Additionally, investing in a yoga mat is beneficial as it not only allows you to practice yoga from the comfort in your room, but also to muscular-based exercises such as push ups and plank holds. Hopefully, these options strengthen your body and mind during an already stationary period when gyms are shut down and it’s hard to focus on health. 

 

Relevant Links: 

Harvard Blog post: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-kinds-of-exercise-are-good-for-brain-health-2018050213762 

Yoga with Adriene Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene 

Honest Guys Meditations Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheHonestGuys