Coronavirus: Experts urge Winnipeggers to stay active this winter

Experts say working out can help overcome mental health challenges as the coronavirus pandemic continues into the fall and winter months. Getty

Experts say the coronavirus pandemic could lead to more mental health challenges this winter, but staying active can go a long way in helping people cope.

Dr. Syras Derksen, a Winnipeg-based psychologist, said exercising is one of the most important things to do as the weather gets colder and restrictions tighten.

“The list is really long on how exercise is good for your mental health,” Derksen said.

Read more: A Canadian coronavirus winter is looming — and it could ‘amplify loneliness’

Exercise can impact someone’s mental health slightly differently based on a number of factors, according to Derksen.

However, some of his clients have seen great success after giving the gym a shot.

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“Often people come in and they’ll say, ‘I know that exercise is important,'” Derksen said. “But when people actually do it, sometimes they are able to come off medications, they are able to alleviate significant depressions.”

The hard part, he said, has always been getting people to start.

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Coronavirus: Winnipeg introduces temporary closures of city-owned facilities – Oct 30, 2020

Currently, with Winnipeg in the province’s red zone of COVID-19 restrictions, gyms can only operate at 25 per cent capacity, which can limit access and be another deterrent for people starting to be more active.

Read more: ‘A tough day for Manitoba business’: reactions to COVID-19 news

Chalnessa Eames, the owner of Winnipeg fitness studio The Fitual, said there are plenty of ways to get creative and stay active.

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Online classes are a great option for people who need to stay home, she says.

For anyone who prefers to workout on their own time and at their own pace, Eames suggested finding a small area at home and use household items as aids.

“With the weather, getting outside is going to become more challenging soon, so finding ways to stay active inside is going to be your best bet,” Eames said.

“You can get creative with weights — you can use bottles and cans and boxes and furniture to help you out.”

Read more: Coronavirus: Tips to cope with a pandemic in the winter months

She also suggested finding a virtual fitness buddy.

“We can’t go to the studio together or the gym, so do it virtually,” Eames said.

“Workout together either through Facetime or just a text saying, ‘Okay, let’s do it, let’s follow this workout today.'”

Although finding motivation might be easier said than done, Eames said some kind of movement is better than nothing at all.


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