Beating the Quarantine Blues: Improving Mental Health Through Exercise

Let’s be real with each other, the COVID-19 pandemic has been tough. In addition to the shuttered business, empty stadiums and abandoned recreation areas, many have struggled with their mental health. As society begins to re-open and return to some sort of “normal”, our mental well-being will be given the task to follow suit. This is a tall order for everyone; but luckily there is hope. Allow me to explain:

According to Research, Quarantine Greatly Affects Mental Health

The new unfamiliar norms of social distancing, quarantine and self-isolation have created added stress and uncertainty that can put anyone’s mental wellbeing to the test. A recent poll found that 50% of Canadians report having a worsening mood since the start of the pandemic and quarantine [1]. Of the individuals still working during the pandemic, 81% reported a negative impact to their mental wellbeing [1].

This could lead to behaviours such has extra sleeping, avoiding chores, feelings of loneliness, and eating to deal with tough emotions. These numbers are shockingly high and it is disturbing to think about the many Canadians who are suffering in silence.

The Secret to Beating the Quarantine Blues

Believe it or not, there is a way that you can beat (or at the very least challenge) the quarantine blues right now. The key to keeping your mind healthy during these trying times is… exercise! There is a mountain of evidence suggesting that exercise has the potential to unlock wonderful benefits to not just your physical health, but your mental wellbeing as well.

In experimental studies, it has been observed that active people, on average, have better mental health than those that are inactive and the effects of exercise are comparable to that of antidepressants [2]. The study took sedentary adults with diagnosed depression and split them into groups for exercise, medication and placebo. After four months, their mental health was re-evaluated by a medical professional.  The group that did only exercise was comparable to the group that was medicated and, furthermore, far surpassed the placebo group as far as improving and maintaining mental health [2].

Simply put, exercise provides a simple, medication-free way to treat your cloudy mental state.

What Kind of Exercise Should I Do?

You may now find yourself eager to exercise and ready to sing the blues away; but what exercise should you do? Let me share a little secret of mine; all exercise is good exercise and there are so many options to choose from. My favourite type is walking. Not only is this easy, free and can be done at any time, but being outside has the added benefits of fresh air, sunlight and uplifting views from nature.

If the weather turns you off and you require an alternative, yoga could be the solution you are looking for. It provides the perfect opportunity to forget about your troubles and focus on healing your mind and body simultaneously. A couple simple poses to start include: child’s pose, warrior pose, downward facing dog, and baby cobra pose.

The troubles caused by the pandemic are something we have all faced and will continue to face together. You may not be able to stop the lockdowns, but you can choose to turn off Netflix and discover (or rediscover) the powerful effect physical activity can have to get you through these unpredictable times.

Work With a Pro

At Stephen Fitness & Rehabilitation, we offer personal training and physiotherapy services specifically designed for individuals looking for help to conquer the quarantine blues.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you or your loved one become stronger more mobile and independent in the comfort of their own home!


[1] Shields, Roslyn. “Mental Health in Canada: Covid-19 and Beyond.” CAMH, July 2020—public-policy-submissions/covid-and-mh-policy-paper-pdf.pdf.

[2] Weir, Kirsten. “The Exercise Effect.” Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, Dec. 2011