5 simple ways I’ve gotten healthier in a world with COVID-19

Spencer McKee of OutThere Colorado climbs a wall at Shelf Road. Photo Credit: Caitlyn Conklin.

As Colorado starts to reopen, many changes related to the presence of COVID-19 are likely still impacting your life. There’s a chance you’ve got more time on your hands and less options regarding how you spend it. By adding simple health-focused habits to your daily routine, you’ll be using this time to better yourself, likely boosting your immune system in the meantime.

Here are a few things I’ve done during the last couple months that I feel have benefited me from a physical and mental health standpoint. To be clear, I’ve got no medical training and have no experience with nutrition. The following recommendations are solely based on what has seemed to help me and I hope they help you, too.

Author’s Note: I’m just some guy on the internet. It’s recommended that you consult a medical professional before making any changes to your diet, vitamin intake, or exercise routine.

1. Add a simple exercise to your day, every day

I’ve never been one for a traditional or long work-out routine, however, by focusing on something easy and simple, I’ve found that 10-15 minutes can make a big difference.

My poison of choice is doing push-ups – I do at least 100 a day and have found that the time between sets has gotten increasingly shorter overtime. For me, this seems to give me a quick full body workout at a level that at least maintains muscle mass. Another daily workout I’ve done in the past is the ‘8-minute abs’ routine from decades ago. Nowadays, the video is free on Youtube, it’s quick, and it will get your heart pumping. Jump rope routines are also a great option.

This step takes 10 minutes a day. Everyone can make time for that. I’d recommend doing the exercise earlier than later to get the benefits of increased blood flow to start your morning.

2. Strategically pick vitamins and actually take them

I’ve tried taking vitamins in the past. I’d get a bottle, pop them for a day or two, and then forget about them.

By adding vitamins to my quarantine routine, taking them right after my 10-minute daily workout with a protein-heavy snack, I’ve finally been able to take them consistently enough to actually see the benefits. I take a multivitamin, a vitamin B complex, extra B-12, and a supplement with omega 3, 6, and 9. That specific mix was built around what the internet said would give me more energy and boost my mood, and it seems to work.

Again, I’m not a nutritionist and have no medical background, but this mix seems to work for my personal goals. Consider your own goals and consult a nutritionist to come up with a plan that works for you.

3. Set bigger exercise goals and actually stick to them

My personal goal has been to run 100 miles a month. That might sound like a lot, but consistency has been the biggest contributor for me successfully reaching that benchmark each month. I’ve never been a runner and I’ve got some minor knee problems, but simply getting out there and moving at my own pace has helped me stay on track.

Whatever your goal is, make it seem like a stretch goal. If you miss your goal the first month giving your full effort, adjust the goal accordingly. You’ll see a lot of benefits from staying consistently active, whether it’s swimming miles a day or simply walking around the block.

One goal that I’ve found success with in the past is to hike at least once a week on a new trail. If you’re doing this, plot out your month ahead of time and pick something you can look forward to on week three or four when motivation might be dwindling.

4. Drink water

One side effect of working from home is that I’ve been crushing flavored seltzers. The variety keeps me from getting bored and some products, like Coca-Cola’s ‘Aha!’ line, offer added benefits like 30 MG of caffeine derived from coffee or green tea.

I’d make a list of the benefits that come with this, but it’s easier to just say that drinking an adequate amount of water benefits almost every organ in your body.

5. Find a hobby that also serves as a social outlet

In times where social interaction has been so limited, it can be easy to feel alone.

By making sure I work rock climbing into my routine frequently, I’m able to participate in a healthy activity that also involves being around one or two other people in a controlled, non-invasive way. Whether you’re running with a friend, going on hikes, or simply playing video games with a buddy from your couch, this social hobby is important to maintain in some capacity.

For an added mental boost, pick a hobby that you can improve in. This improvement will have you feeling productive as your skills improve.

Other Tips:

  • No days off – While it’s sometimes easy to think you ‘deserve a break,’ keep in mind that a break day can disrupt your healthy habits and routine. Obviously, some workouts and practices do require breaks – for example, I’ll run every other day or every third day because I feel this time is needed for my recovery. That being said, living an active and healthy lifestyle is much easier if you try to view that as simply “how it is” instead of viewing it as a chore. Living healthy is an investment.
  • Do things you enjoy – It’s hard to stick to a workout you hate. Try a few different things and find something that works for you.
  • Cut bad habits – Things like excessive drinking, unhealthy eating, and smoking can set you back from seeing improvement. Try to limit these things in your daily life. Cold turkey is one method, but even moderation can lead to benefits.
  • Track your success – Keep a notebook that tracks your push-ups, use an application like Strava to compete with yourself when running, stand in front of the mirror and flex your muscles – do whatever you can to remind yourself that the hard work you’re putting in is working. You’re getting healthier, stronger, and faster – remind yourself so that you can stay motivated.
  • Don’t let diet hold you back – I’m by no means a ‘healthy eater,’ but I am conscious of a few things that I need to get every day. One thing I focus on is protein for the sake of recovery, so much so that I’ve built eating high-protein snacks, like yogurt, into my daily routine. Between a $2 pre-made Oikos ‘pro fuel’ smoothie and a Oikos ‘triple zero’ yogurt (plus some healthy cereal on top), I know I’m getting 80% of the protein the average person needs to get throughout the day before noon.
  • Do it for a week, then give up – A habit can’t be formed overnight. Anything new I’m trying, I’ll generally try to add to my daily routine for about a week. If I still don’t like it at that point or haven’t seen any benefits, I’ll move on.
  • Listen to podcasts – Your brain needs a workout, too. The right podcast is a great way to stimulate thought. It also helps me pass the time while performing a simple workout task. I also really like to listen to a podcast that involves conversation, as I find this fills a social purpose, as well.

And, for one last time, I’m not a nutritionist, I’ve got no medical background, and I have never worked with a physical trainer. Consider me your average Joe that’s applied some interest research and has seen some results. I encourage you to consult a doctor or medical professional prior to taking any of my advice.

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee manages the OutThere Colorado digital publication as the Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to rock climb, trail run, and mountain bike. Follow along with his adventures on Instagram at @spence.outside


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