Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Small Doses of Exercise Make a Big Difference

Your body will soothe your brain

In this time of unbearable hardship, I am one of the lucky ones: healthy, employed, and thus far unscarred (in an immediate way) by the tidal wave of loss. It’s sobering to consider how few Americans can claim those three pluses right now. To write this column is to be privileged. To think about well-being (a level up from just being) is to be privileged.

None of that is lost on me.

But that’s not to say I don’t swing into lost territory in plenty of moments. A steady diet of restrictions is hard, and I miss all sorts of things, privileged things like airplanes and yoga studios and grinning hipsters asking if they can tell me about tonight’s specials.

When my mood dips, I feel an adjacent pull to let the rest of my day dip with it. But when I’m smart—which isn’t always—I resist. Exercise snacking helps with that. Rather than mourn what I can’t do, I grab hold of what I can: a round of squats, a dose of Yoga With Adriene, 10 minutes on the trampoline, or a few bare-minimum moves on the living room floor.

There’s both logic and science to this. As Adriana Velez writes for Elemental, “exercise snacking has shown to be effective in reducing blood sugar and in lowering blood pressure.” Plus, exercise is arguably the most reliable mood booster there is. So, as the pandemic winter presses on, I urge you to snack on exercise whenever you can.

Illustration: Sophi Gullbrants

Senior Platform Editor, Elemental. I write and edit stories about health, science, well-being, and behavior.

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