How to keep your body healthy during COVID-19 pandemic

Contact: Megan Looker

WMU student Hannah Korbel runs through Main Campus.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Staying healthy is critical as the number of COVID-19 cases rise and the fears mount. The CDC has a list of guidelines for avoiding infection and what to do if you think you have contracted COVID-19, but staying healthy involves your entire body, mind and soul. Here’s how you can keep your body healthy this spring semester while in self-isolation.


Stick to a routine

Don’t sit all day watching TV and surfing the internet, get up and get moving. It’s important to stick to a schedule—no matter your age—to keep your body healthy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Just like the old adage says, "all work and no play"can make you stir-crazy, which can impact your health. 

 Dr. Brian Fuller, director of counseling services in WMU's Sindecuse Health Center, recommends going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, eating your meals at the same time, exercising and making time for recreational activities, in addition to your work or school duties through distance education.

When you’re done for the day, pack up your supplies and put them away to better represent your transition from work life to home life. Boundaries are important to keeping a healthy balance during isolation.


Eat right

You know about the importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet, but Janique Berard, intern with WMU’s Dining Services and graduate student of dietetics from Kaleva, Michigan, says a balanced meal can also power your ability to fight infection.

"A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables provide fiber, vitamins and minerals that help to support your immune system and keep your body systems functioning normally," Berard says. "Eat at least one (or more) servings of fruits and vegetables—whether they are fresh, frozen or canned—at every meal, if possible."

Dining Services is still functioning amid the COVID-19 restrictions, just in a different way. The team is offering grab-and-go meals to WMU community members still on campus, to better follow the rules of isolation laid out by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.  

"We are going to take care of our students,"Judy Gipper,  director of Dining Services.

If you're already getting bored with the basics you regularly cook at home, remember there's still an opportunity for variety.

"Look up healthy recipes online. Most websites allow you to include what ingredients you have on hand and they will provide you with a library of recipes to try," Berard says. "Keep frozen and canned produce, whole-grain products (rice, quinoa, oats), and shelf-stable proteins (like black beans) on hand. They are versatile and can be used in numerous recipes."

For those wanting to enhance their culinary abilities during this time of self-isolation, Dining Services put together these great recipes to put your skills to the test right.

Blueberry overnight oats

Breakfast cookie in a mug

Burrito bowl

Stuffed sweet potato


Stay active

From routines as simple as a few stretches to an intense cardio workout, self-isolation requires you to get creative to keep moving from the confines of your home. However, nature is still an option, as long as you keep your distance from others. Talk a quick walk around the neighborhood, and work in a few stretches to keep your muscles from getting stiff.

If you’re looking for more of a workout, WMU's Student Recreation Center is now offering virtual classes to keep your blood pumping. From yoga to outdoor exercise activities, the SRC is sending out ideas for workouts daily, both live and through posts on their Facebook page.

"I think right now we need to provide people with outlets that are a good, positive, healthy outlet for them to be able to continue to stay active and have some sense of normalcy in this ever-changing, day-to-day climate that we’re in at the moment,” says Beth Northuis, assistant director for fitness and wellness at SRC.

The benefits of exercise are two-fold, assisting your bodily functions, as well as your mind.

"If your body feels good, so does your mind," says Amy Seth, director of University Recreation. "A little movement can go a long way to keeping us positive."

"Your body needs to stay active to stay healthy, and if you don’t use it, you lose it," adds Northuis. “So going out and doing something intentional is really going to help keep you sharp, active and alert. It's also going to help you with an outlet if you are feeling stressed or anxious to go and have something to go and do and fill your day."


FRee your mind

Isolation doesn't mean you can’t stay social; it just means you need to do it in a responsible way. Talking to friends and family over Skype or Facetime is perfectly safe, and  it can be beneficial to talk about the struggles you're going through, whether it's from having to limit your social life or the transition to distance education.

Finding a new hobby can help ease the stress and anxiety of isolation, according to the CDC. WMU offers a number of resources to help you explore your passions right from home. Peruse this list of ways to stay occupied during this time of isolation.

Fuller says following these steps can benefit your mental well-being, but it's important to reach out for professional help if it's not working.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.