As a philosopher and yoga practitioner, I expected that meditation, positive thinking, and less screen time would be my best weapons against pandemic fatigue.  I was dead wrong.  One year in, the main thing that keeps me going is physical activity.

I’m talking real workouts here.  They need to be hard enough that I get winded, sweaty, and tired.  Skipping them affects my mind immediately.  I find myself dragging through the day, feeling low energy, cranky and unmotivated.

Some of my workouts are hikes, and they have the added advantage of exposing me to sunlight (another mood-booster).  Yes, it’s winter in New England and yes, it’s cold outside.  That’s OK, I’m Swedish.  I know how to dress for the cold and I also know that if I move along at a decent clip, I’ll feel warm soon.  And after falling on my butt on icy trails a couple of times, I’ve invested in cleats for my hiking boots.

Before the pandemic, I did my indoor workouts at the local YMCA, lifting weights and taking classes.  When the pandemic closed the gyms in my area, I looked around for online workouts and stumbled on Hasfit’s workouts by Coach Kozak.  They were exactly what I needed — free, fun, and well-designed workouts, which included strength, range of motion, and endurance and required minimum equipment.

A couple of months into the pandemic, my husband joined my workouts.  Being from Florida, he’s not entirely in love with going for long walks on freezing cold days.  But at this point, we‘re both unabashed Coach Kozak fans.  Coach Kozak is a former mixed martial arts fighter, and he demonstrates scary-advanced version of the moves.  His wife Claudia provides much-needed easier modifications.  The workouts are pure good energy and the two of them create a supportive community.  My husband and I gasp in awe at Coach’s physical abilities.  We smile in relief when we realize we picked a video where Claudia is 24 weeks pregnant because it tends to slow her down enough that we can brag about doing more challenging moves than she does.

The workouts are peppered with annoying-but-true motivational sayings, usually along the lines of, “it’s all mental.”  My personal favorite:  “Those who believe they can and these who believe they can’t are both right.”

Coach Kozak is right; it’s all mental. But the opposite is right too.  It’s all physical.  Workouts release endorphins, sunlight releases serotonin and both are mood-boosting hormones.  This intimate and deep mind-body connection gives us a powerful tool: Our bodies can help our minds cope with the stress and fatigue of the pandemic.


Evidence about the mental health benefits of exercise and sunlight abound, but see for instance here and here.

The Hasfit workouts are available here.