George Mason professor says exercise routines during pandemic can safeguard physical and mental health


George Mason University fitness expert Oladipo Eddo, an assistant professor of kinesiology in Mason’s College of Education and Human Development, said that it’s important to make  physical and mental exercise a part of your routine in 2021. In addition, Eddo emphasized the need to stay socially engaged and avoid isolation.

Oladipo Eddo
Oladipo Eddo

“It’s important to get back to or start a healthy routine during the pandemic,” said Eddo. “The magic recipe to staying healthy is to remain physically, mentally and socially active.”

Eddo said that well-intentioned efforts to mitigate the spread of coronavirus have inadvertently negatively affected health and well-being. He suggests refocusing energy on maintaining health by establishing new routines for physical activity. Walking, Eddo said, is a great choice for getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise weekly.

“But with winter weather around the corner, outdoor activities like walking may become more challenging,” said Eddo. “Consider supplementing with yoga, Pilates, and modified calisthenics and band exercises. This can be accomplished through group virtual workouts and activity tracker challenges and competitions with friends and family members.”

Eddo emphasized that physical activity has been shown to lead to decreased susceptibility to diseases such as diabetes and dementia, as well as reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

In addition to devoting time to physical activity, Eddo suggested making it a New Year’s resolution to focus on dietary habits.

“The positive effects of exercise are significantly increased when a heart healthy diet is introduced,” Eddo said. “Consider trying new recipes, challenging yourself and rewarding your palate.”

Eddo said that mental exercise is also important to safeguarding health.

“Try new mentally stimulating activities,” Eddo said. “It has been suggested that gaining new skills creates new connections between brain cells and brain areas. Read a new book, learn a new language, pick up playing chess or gardening.”

Eddo added that staying socially engaged can be challenging during the pandemic, but that maintaining relationships is also important for emotional health.

“Maintaining social connections has positive effects on brain function, mood, and potentially wards off depression,” Eddo said. “This might be a good time to pick up playing board games with family members. Consider texting less and speaking more, either through the phone or video calls.”

Eddo grew up mostly in Nigeria. He came to the United States to study at Mason. He earned his BS, master’s degree and doctorate all at Mason.

To reach Oladipo Eddo directly, contact him at

For more information, contact Anna Stolley Persky at

About George Mason 
George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Located near Washington, D.C., Mason enrolls more than 38,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states. Mason has grown rapidly over the past half-century and is recognized for its innovation and entrepreneurship, remarkable diversity and commitment to accessibility.