Stay on Your Game: Quarantine Edition

By: Lilli Rozanski, MS, RDN, LDN, Sports and Fitness Dietitian, Thibodaux Regional Health System

Competitions have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely leaving athletes to wonder what is next. Everything is changing by the day resulting in stress and a range of uncomfortable emotions. Athletes may be feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and fearful, but they are not alone. As the coronavirus continues to affect everyone’s daily routine, it is now more important than ever to stay positive and mentally fit. Thibodaux Regional Health System can help by offering some positive and actionable tools that athletes can benefit from right now.

Create a Routine

Athletes are used to demanding schedules, so developing a home routine has its benefits. Routines provide consistency and structure which can help provide normalcy. Take time to establish a routine that helps support overall health and well-being. Set an alarm, get up, get dressed in clean clothes, and start the day with breakfast! Lounging around in your pajamas may seem appealing, but it can actually make a person less productive and promote depression. Showering and wearing clean clothes every day not only promotes good hygiene and mood, but actually can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. “Research shows that athletes should get anywhere between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night,” said Thibodaux Regional Sports Medicine Center athletic trainer Tyler Trahan. Trahan, who serves as head athletic trainer for Nicholls Athletics, also recommends limiting screen time at least 1 hour prior to going to bed.

Create a Fueling Timeline

An integral part of creating a routine also includes meals and snacks! Eating regularly throughout the day will help keep energy levels up, help you focus on classwork, help maintain muscle mass, and keep metabolism functioning optimally. To keep energy up for classes and workouts, eat something every 3-4 hours. Incorporate whole grains, fruits and veggies for long lasting energy throughout the day and don’t forget to hydrate! See below for an example fueling timeline.

Mindful Eating During Quarantine

Are you steadily working towards gaining the quarantine 15? It is normal to stress eat when things feel out of our control. It is also normal to eat when boredom strikes, both of which may be happening a lot lately. The Hunger-Fullness Scale describes varying degrees of hunger and fullness to help identify how hungry and full you truly are, and to help you know when to start or stop eating. Using this scale allows you to tap into the body’s built-in appetite regulating system to help shift towards eating more mindfully. Try to stay between a 3-7 on the Hunger and Fullness Scale, which for most people means eating every 3-4 hours.


Just because an athlete cannot go to the gym or attend a favorite class right now, does not mean they have to miss out on exercise. This time should be used to discover online workout classes that can be done at home, in the backyard, or at the park while still practicing social distancing. Trahan recommends incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) into the training plan. HIIT exercise is repeated bouts of high intensity effort followed by varied recovery times. “HIIT training helps with fat loss, it can save time, burn more calories, and increase your metabolism,” said Trahan. “You also continue to burn calories post-exercise due to the EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) effect. HIIT training stimulates a higher EPOC because you consume more oxygen during this type of session. Your body then has to work harder post workout to regain ‘homeostasis’ which means you will continue to burn calories even once you finish.” His examples of HIIT include short sprints (30 sec 80/90% max effort/3 min rest) or cycling (3-5 min on 80/90% max effort /3-5 min rest-40/50% max effort) until failure.

Mental Health

In the midst of everything going on in the world, try to practice social media and news distancing or at least implement some boundaries on time spent consuming content right now. It’s important to stay informed with evidence-based and reliable sources; otherwise, reports may be inaccurate and not positively affect your wellbeing.

  • Keep an eye on the future. Coach yourself to maintain supportive thoughts and feelings. Eventually, events and competitions will return, so make sure to stay prepared and ready for that moment. Part of this can be done by setting new, concrete goals which fit into your new routine. Establish realistic and achievable goals, which you have discussed with your coach and plan to achieve these through daily activities.
  • Social distancing should not mean social disconnection. Use apps and other technology to stay connected and be mindful that you might want to check in with people who are important to you on a more frequent basis than usual. Share your feelings with a friend or family member. Lean on your support systems and maintain relationships. Schedule joint home training with a teammate and work out together remotely via FaceTime, Zoom or WhatsApp. And take this opportunity to re-connect with family and friends!
  • Try to remember patience. No problem will stay forever. A problem today, could be resolved tomorrow. This pandemic will resolve too! During this time, focus on seeing the positives of everything, and try things that you don’t have time to do in normal life when you have school, work or training.

As a reminder, let’s all do our part to support each other during this time and focus on the gratitude, the positive, to reflect, to be mindful, and to be resilient. Thibodaux Regional Health System is here for you each step of the way.