This last year has taught us new ways to look at the world and how we approach our health. Adapting to the times means that virtual health and wellness has been booming, particularly in the areas of exercise. There are many factors that contribute to being healthy beyond physical health, such as mental health, spiritual health, social health, and more. All areas of health have seen their own adaptations during the COVID-19 Pandemic, but access to exercise has changed the way many view and partake in physical activity. Here are a few ways virtual wellness has changed and how it might be benefiting you.
Doctors’ visits, therapy, meditation, exercise, and more have all seen a robust transition to the digital landscape. To keep up with the times, while making health a priority, these businesses, and people, had to create more online options and interactive spaces. There was an estimated 170% increase in sales of at-home exercise equipment in the last year (1). This may have been driven by shutdowns and COVID protocols; however, it has increased access for all. Many of whom were not in a location near some of these services, could not afford expensive memberships, or were struggling with finding time to exercise, found a new way to be active. There will be an eventual return to in-person offerings, but it is likely these virtual wellness options are here to stay.
The shifts in virtual health have also caused a shift for more preventative thinking. Our health care system is generally better set up to respond once something has gone wrong; however, this past year has given many a pause to focus not only on exercise, but also diet, sleep, self-care, and stress management. Many simple changes in everyday life can be done in a long-term effort to help boost immunity and decrease risk or severity of getting sick with COVID-19, along with many other chronic conditions or mild infections (2).
Additional benefits to virtual health opportunities are the variety, flexibility, and privacy it affords its users. At home exercise of the past may have been a “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” VHS tape, and you were forced to either have a large collection or do the same exercise over and over. Now there are almost endless possibilities of both free and fee-based options for virtual exercise. From YouTube to fitness apps, anyone can find what they are looking for. This also leads into the flexibility aspect. You are not held to a strict class time; you can do the workout anytime and anywhere you want. With the convenience of choice of class, time, and location, this can make for a more private experience for many. Privacy can be a bonus for those new to exercise and exploring which forms they like the most without having to feel intimated by the gym setting and others around.
Hopefully you have been able to find an approach to exercise over the last year that has worked for you, but it is never too late to get started. So, if you have yet to try a virtual experience, maybe you will consider the options it presents and find out what works for you.
Kimberly Burke is the director of the Adult Fitness Program at Colorado State University, an outreach program through the Department of Health and Exercise Science. Adult Fitness offers exercise opportunities for employees of CSU as well as community members, while providing hands-on learning experiences for health promotion students. To learn more see http://hes.chhs.colostate.edu/outreach/adultfitness/
- Fitness Equipment: COVID-19. (2021). Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.researchandmarkets.com/issues/fitness-equipment-grows-170pct?utm_source=dynamic&utm_medium=BW&utm_code=m6djfc&utm_campaign=1386770+-+Fitness+Equipment+Sales+Grow+by+170%25+During+Coronavirus+Lockdown&utm_exec=joca220bwd
- Gulino, E. (2021, January 5). These are the biggest health & Wellness trends for 2021. Retrieved April 14, 2021, from https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2021/01/10240169/top-health-trends-2021