Doing this at-home workout just 30 minutes per week can add years to your life

Finding the time to exercise at any point in the day can be tough right now. Despite Americans continuing to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to become discouraged and succumb to the fog that surrounds over lives these days.

The new normal is indeed abnormal. It is fighting “COVID fatigue,” the medical phenomenon that has medical professionals worried about the long-term effects the pandemic will have on lives.

The culprit here is stress.

Kaye Hermanson, a psychologist at UC Davis’ Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, said there are no easy solutions to facing the challenges that the pandemic has had on our lives.

“We know there are two kinds of stress that have long-term effects on our mental well-being and physical health – intense stress and prolonged stress,” Hermanson said in July. “We have both.”

Hermanson explained that Americans now face unknowns in each part of their lives right now, which means the normal coping methods that were used before the COVID-19 pandemic can be inhibited due to safety precautions.

Guilty pleasures like stopping at your favorite bar after work for that once-weekly appetizer or heading to your Wednesday spin class aren’t within reach right now, making it tougher to find stillness in times of stress.

“We have unknowns in every part of our lives,” Hermanson said. “At the same time, a lot of the things we generally do to cope, the things we enjoy and that give life meaning, have changed or been put off limits.”

How people can cope starts with themselves and controlling what is within their own power. Hermanson said talking about the pandemic to others can reduce stress, while being mindful or thinking constructively can adjust our way of thinking by living in the moment and accepting things as they are.

Hermanson also recommended exercise.

“It’s the No. 1 best thing we can do for coping,” she said in a blog post. “Any exercise – even a simple walk – helps. It releases endorphins, gets some of the adrenaline out when the frustration builds up. Just getting out and moving can be really helpful for people.”

Exercise starts with changing your routine and making time for physical fitness. It’s never a good idea to think you can run a marathon before getting a simple mile under your belt, nor is it wise to try to stack weights on the bars at the gym when it’s your first week.

But given that gyms remain with limited occupancy due to the pandemic, running outside might be getting old (and too cold) by now, which begs the question: have you thought about your staircase at home?

Thirty minutes of stair sprints per week were found to give your body a great workout, according to a study from 2017. Published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada found that exercising in intense bursts for short periods can provide a big boost for your heart.

The study had participants perform workouts in 10 minutes sessions for three days a week. It included an all-out stair climb for 20 seconds and an intense up and down flight climb for about a minute.

“Stair climbing is a form of exercise anyone can do in their own home, after work or during the lunch hour,” Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster and lead author on the study, said at the time. “This research takes interval training out of the lab and makes it accessible to everyone.”