Staying fit and healthy during quarantine from the perspective of UCR student-athletes

In the midst of this global pandemic, most of our routines look completely different now than they ever have. With almost every email including some variation of the phrase “during these challenging times,” it’s hard to forget that we are living through a public health crisis. On their website, The Center for Disease Control (CDC) explains that outbreaks like the COVID-19 pandemic can cause different stress reactions like anxiety, difficulty sleeping and general mental health decline. Their advice is to, “exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.” To get some insight on exercise in quarantine, I consulted the experts: UC Riverside student-athletes. 

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

Junior track and field middle distance runner Tanner Anderson, junior softball outfielder Raena Robinson, junior soccer goalkeeper Leonardo Targia and senior basketball forward Skyler Lewis are all motivated to stay fit even though their lives have changed drastically. This motivation comes from a different place for each of them. 

“My body sets the standard for me for what excellence should feel like, and watching each day pass and your body fade is a reminder to get out,” Anderson said. Though she has been an athlete all her life, Lewis mentioned that exercise means even more for her now. “Exercising also makes me feel like I am accomplishing something in a time when we can’t really do much else” she said. Athletes also feel motivated by their fellow teammates. “Even though we can’t compete, I know as a student-athlete I have the duty to stay fit and stay committed to my program,” Targia said. 

Though the motivation is there, all of the Highlanders agreed that adapting to working out at home is challenging. “For those who are struggling to stay fit in these times I would say the biggest obstacle is starting,” Lewis said. To that point, Targia added that following a schedule can help. “To stay fit and stay focused, it’s very important to have a routine,” he said. 

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

Robinson added, “If you find yourself pushing it off, just do it. If you push it off to the next day, you’ll do the same thing tomorrow … This will help you build character and implement a new routine into your lifestyle that you’ll appreciate yourself for doing when this lockdown is over.”  

Once you have a routine, the next step is to keep your quarantine workouts simple and watch what you eat. “Doing workouts such as going for a jog, crunches, squats, push-ups, calf raises. Those can all be done with just your body weight and you can do as many as you need to feel the progress,” Lewis said. She also recommends eating healthy meals and snacks. “Try to control what you eat and the fuel you are putting in your body because your intake affects not only your physical energy but your mental state,” she said. 

Targia also mentioned the benefits of bodyweight work; “I like to do a lot of abs and planks. They make you fit but they also make you strong. Also, I do lunges and push ups. If you do all of this, then you can still get a good full body workout,” he said. 

Anderson has taken a different approach that emphasizes flexibility and cardio. “I would recommend doing yoga because it emphasizes good stretching routines and full body strength. I would also say get a bike, it’s easier to bike and explore than it is to run. So take in nature day by day if you have the chance,” Anderson said.

Courtesy of UCR Athletics

Most importantly, make sure to reach out to your people. Robinson expressed how staying in touch helps, “our coaching staff reaches out to us everyday to check in with our team and ask how our families are holding up during these times. We have weekly team meetings to stay up with our mental game and make sure each player is aware of the resources we have to do well in our classes since it is a bit difficult.” 

Though you might not have teammates and coaches, we all have communities that we belong to. We are all facing the same challenges and it is easy to feel alone. Connect with your friends and family to talk and share your routine. We are fighting this pandemic together and if we face it as a team, we’ll win.