Physical Exercise During COVID-19: How Students Can Take Steps to Improve Their Mental Health

It seems like a no-brainer that COVID-19 would negatively impact people’s mental health. 

After all, people are now worried about themselves and family members, and have to stay indoors and practice social distancing to mitigate transmission. 

With all these factors at play, it makes perfect sense that people everywhere are experiencing lethargy, anxiety, depression, and screentime fatigue. This is especially true for students, who have to balance new distance learning programs with more homework, less downtime, and limited contact with their friends.

Luckily, there’s a scientifically proven remedy for some of these mental health concerns: physical activity.

A young woman makes an uncomfortable face while she prepares for a race. A lot of people find physical activity exhausting or boring, but if done right, it can be an enjoyable and rejuvenating experience.

Why Physical Activity is So Great

Physical activity for children is widely known to be beneficial for physical health, with studies finding that more activity strengthens a child’s muscles and bones, prevents weight gain, and can reduce the risks of chronic illnesses and cancers. 

Physical activity’s relationship with mental health for kids is just as important and just as beneficial, even if it’s less talked about. 

Scientific research has indicated that increased physical activity for children helps with a child’s self-esteem and cognitive skills, such as increasing attention span and learning ability. It also helps a child build skills managing anxiety and depression, and overall, improves a child’s outlook on life. 

A young boy in a pool wearing swimming goggles beams at the camera. Physical activity makes people feel great and helps with physical and mental health.

How Physical Activity Can Help Students During the Pandemic

Students struggling with mental health at the moment should introduce physical activity into their routines. 

While it’s true that children and adolescents should ideally do 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, research has also shown that even 20 minutes of moderate activity per day can have positive effects for children. Moderate physical activity includes activities like walking, bicycling, and dancing.

Incorporating a 20-minute walk or dance break may be enough to help students cope with and thrive under their new distance learning models this year. But if they want more physical activity, or miss playing on their sports team, then their families should consider professional learning pod options

In many programs, students can receive in-person schooling from pod facilitators, additional socialization both inside and outside the classroom, and engage in friendly physical activity, such as sports, tag, and hide and seek. Learning pods are great ways to provide structure and socialization for students without worrying higher risks of COVID-19 transmission. 

Physical activity is a vital part of a student’s life, and may even be a lifesaver during this pandemic. If students are struggling more this year with staying focused and positive, then it may be time to introduce more physical activity into their daily routines.