9 activities to stimulate the mind and body while physically distancing

Excerpt: Keeping your mind and body active through stimulating activities can help you get through physical distancing, while strengthening your immune system and building resilience. Take nature walks, express yourself through creative hobbies, and travel to famous landmarks virtually. Video calls with friends, reading good books, doing yoga, watching classic comedies and supporting people in need will help you feel less confined and more engaged in life.


Keeping your mind and body active through a variety of stimulating activities can help you get through physical distancing and make the best of each day. Being engaged physically,* mentally and socially* in pursuits that interest and challenge you offers the added benefit of strengthening your immune system and building resilience,* according to Harvard Medical School and Psychology Today.

Here are some activities to stimulate your mind and body and escape from feelings of isolation and confinement:

  1. Take a nature walk.
    As Canadian cities and provinces open more parks and conservation areas, go for invigorating walks in lush green spaces while respecting physical distancing.

  2. Express yourself through creative hobbies.
    Paint, play music, write a short story, garden, try new recipes, knit clothes for grandchildren or use woodworking skills to build a birdhouse or furniture.

  3. Travel to famous places virtually.
    Take a virtual tour of the world’s 10 greatest landmarks. See and experience the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Taj Mahal in India, and Stonehenge in the United Kingdom* through Google Arts and Culture.

  4. Schedule video calls to ease the distance.
    Older adults who use video chat technologies, such as Skype and FaceTime, are less likely to be depressed,* reports the University of Waterloo. Video calls with friends and family support strong social connection, allowing you to remain physically distant, but emotionally present.

  5. Read for pleasure, learning and entertainment.
    Immerse yourself in books that you’re eager to read and join a virtual book club to share your thoughts. Visit the website of your public library to borrow eBooks and Audiobooks.

  6. Practice yoga with an online guide.
    Calm your mind and flex your body by sampling the YMCA’s free yoga videos online: from chair yoga and guided meditation to deep stretching and power flow.*

  7. Boost your brain with online learning.
    Many Canadian and American universities now offer some online courses free. For a taste of Ivey League education, enrol in Yale University’s “The Science of Well-Being” or Princeton’s “Global History of Capitalism.”* Or, learn a new language through online programs like Duolingo, Babbel and Rosetta Stone.*

  8. Help vulnerable people in need.
    Make a positive difference by donating and dropping off food and other essential household supplies to social service agencies, or self-isolating neighbours, friends, and relatives, who are seniors or have underlying health conditions.

  9. Watch funny films.
    Lighten your mood and laugh out loud by streaming classic comedy movies like Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Best in Show, or some old I Love Lucy re-runs.

*The following sources are references for this blog in order of appearance:

1. Harvard Medical School. “How to boost your immune system.” (2020), online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system

2. Harvard Medical School. “The health benefits of strong relationships.” (2019), online: https://relationshipsfirst.org/harvard-medical-school-the-health-benefit-of-strong-relationships/

3. Psychology Today. “How stress affects the immune system.” (2014), online: https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/how-the-mind-heals-the-body/201411/how-stress-affects-the-immune-system

4. The Guardian. “10 virtual tours of the world’s most famous landmarks.” (2020), online: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/mar/30/10-best-virtual-tour-worlds-most-famous-landmarks

5. The Conversation. “Video chats can ease isolation for older adults during coronavirus pandemic.” (2020), online: https://theconversation.com/video-chats-can-ease-social-isolation-for-older-adults-during-coronavirus-pandemic-135890

6. YMCA. “YMCA health and fitness videos. Yoga.” (2020), online: https://ymca360.org/on-demand/category/22

7. victoriabuzz.com. “These institutions are offering free online courses during the COVID-19 pandemic.” (2020), online: https://www.victoriabuzz.com/2020/03/these-institutions-are-offering-free-online-courses-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

8. msn.com. “6 ways to learn a foreign language for free while you’re sheltering in place for COVID-19.” (2020), online: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/6-ways-to-learn-a-foreign-language-for-free-while-youre-sheltering-in-place-for-covid-19/ar-BB128RRJ