Weathering COVID-19: physical resilience

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steph Sawyer
  • 142nd Fighter Wing/Public Affairs

As most of the world is practicing social distancing, and in some cases, self-quarantine, many Americans are spending much of their days at home, working and living outside of their typical routines. 


On Monday, March 23, 2020, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a ‘stay at home’ order in an effort to further limit the transmission of COVID-19. Earlier this month, the U.S. Air Force announced that physical fitness testing would be suspended entirely until late June. 


Though our lives have been interrupted by COVID-19, it’s important to remember that as members of the Oregon Air National Guard and the U.S. Air Force, we are required to maintain a certain level of physical fitness in order to carry out our duties safely and efficiently when we are called upon to do so. 


142nd Fighter Wing Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Brent Cavanais stresses the importance of physical readiness at this time. 


“The challenges we’re facing today put readiness at risk if we aren’t vigilant about mitigating them,” said Cavanais. “In terms of fitness, it is the consummate challenge of balancing taking care of our Airmen and our mission. Ultimately, fitness comes down to an individual responsibility. We absolutely care about the health and wellbeing of our force, and fit Airmen are critical to our combat readiness.”


While maintaining physical fitness is necessary for physical readiness and wellness, it also stands to benefit your mental health. Making physical exercise part of your daily routine helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, lifts overall mood, and improves quality of sleep. 


Because the benefits of physical exercise spill over into our mental health, it’s a powerful tool to help us cope in times of stress. 


1st Lt. Kyle Osborne, an anti-terrorism officer in the 142nd Security Forces Squadron, and fitness program manager for the 142nd Fighter Wing, can attest to the positive impact of regular physical exercise. 


“When I was active duty, I had a lot of sleeping problems. I just couldn’t sleep, couldn’t shut my mind off...just couldn’t relax,” said Osborne. “I started focusing on more of a fitness regimen. So I worked out two hours before bedtime.”  Osborne said that working out before bed drastically improved the quality of his sleep.


Though our resources are somewhat limited because of the current circumstances, there are things we can do to stay active while practicing social distancing. 


Activities like going for a walk or jog around the block, turning on some music and dancing, or challenging a loved one to a lightsaber duel are all excellent ways of incorporating physical exercise into daily life.


Master Sgt. Justin Mills, a munitions accountability systems officer in the 142nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, weighed in on a recent post on the 142nd Fighter Wing’s Instagram account. 


“Since my gyms are closed, I’m running, hiking, biking with my fam and alone,” says Mills. “Bonus! This also works for mental fitness!” 


Anything you can do to get your body moving throughout the day is going to benefit your physical and mental wellbeing.


 Keep in mind that If you choose to exercise outdoors, remember to be cognizant of other people and allow for six feet of space between yourself and others. 


If outdoor activities aren’t your thing or if you can’t get outdoors, there are plenty of resources for indoor exercise at your fingertips if you have an internet connection. 


YouTube is an excellent platform for guided workout videos. Osborne suggests searching for “travel workout of the day” or “hotel workout of the day.” These are workouts specifically designed to be performed in confined spaces, working around beds and other pieces of furniture. Other genres of guided workouts include yoga, Pilates, dance, and martial arts. 


The thing to keep in mind as you work to establish an at-home fitness routine is to keep it simple. Utilize the resources you have. You can use water jugs, canned goods, or detergent bottles for resistance and weight training, use your staircase in your workout routine, take your dog for a walk or run, or play with your kids. Most of all, have fun!