Is Pandemic Burnout Impacting Your Workout Routine? Here Are 3 Ways to Snap Out of It ASAP

Don’t let mental fatigue hurt your exercise streak.

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By April 16, 2021

If you were a gym junkie before COVID-19 caused fitness centers to shut down last March, making the move from sweating in a studio to your living room was likely a big shift for you. But you made it work. You invested in some basic at-home gym equipment and downloaded an app (hello!) to help keep you accountable and challenge you. And throughout all of this perhaps the biggest surprise is that you don’t miss or even need the gym the way you thought you did. But one big question remains: Is pandemic burnout impacting your workout routine?

Even if you’re loving your new at-home workout routine, pandemic burnout (reaching your limits on all things COVID-19 mentally, emotionally, and/or physically) can make staying motivated to exercise extremely difficult. So no — you’re not alone! Many fitness enthusiasts are finding it challenging to keep up the same home workout routine now that the novelty has worn off. Fitness studios opening up again may solve some individuals’ “stuck in a rut” mood, but don’t be surprised if turning in your home workout routine for a studio leaves more to be desired. Burnout doesn’t automatically go away with a change of scenery! But it can decrease with intentional, strategic methods that spice things up while keeping you on track to meet your goals. Here are three ways to get out of your rut so you can reignite your drive.

1. Start a Buddy System

With vaccinations becoming available for those 16 years and older in many states, enlist a friend to work out together once you are both inoculated. Doing so may have some big benefits for both of you. A study published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that working out with a partner doubled the amount of time subjects exercised compared to those who stuck to solo fitness.

Plus, research published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that your workout intensity may increase if you choose your company wisely. The study found that those who exercised with a partner who was more fit were able to hold planks for longer.

If you’re not feeling comfortable to start exercising with friends yet, keep it virtual. Plan out your workouts together and track each other’s progress with weekly check-ins or exercise together via Zoom.

2. Get Outside

If you’re typically a stickler to your workout schedule and have found yourself slacking off, simply moving it outside can get you out of your COVID-funk. Research out of the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry found a direct improvement with mental well-being when exercising outdoors versus indoors, with subjects reporting an improvement in positive emotions, increased energy, and decreased tension. Chances are, whatever your at-home workout routine is doesn’t literally have to be done at home. Pack up your yoga mat, grab your phone, and set up shop near a shady tree in your backyard or a local park. On the days a workout isn’t in the cards, a brisk walk can do the trick to help you feel better and get some steps in at the same time.

3. Pump-Up That Playlist

You may already realize how important the beats you play during a workout are to help you crank out that last set when you’re feeling fatigued, but music can actually create a physiological response in the body. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science discovered a link between music and dopamine, the feel-good hormone responsible for how we feel pleasure. When participants in the study listened to music they enjoyed their dopamine levels increased, improving their spirits and motivation. So the next time you start to feel pandemic burnout setting in, scan Spotify for a few new tracks to add to your playlist to help you get your sneakers on and start sweating.

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