Staying Fit and Healthy in Times of COVID-19


Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been in the headlines for months now, and since the pandemic started, social distancing and working from home has been the norm. Social distancing, or the practice of maintaining physical distance from others, has been put in place in most countries to avoid the spread of the virus – this means that we need to limit our exposure to crowded places like offices, schools, means of transport, restaurants, malls, and even the gym. Strict community quarantine has also been implemented in afflicted countries, which left companies to implement their work from home resiliency plans. 

Working from home has its ups and downs, but when we are in a fight against a pandemic like this, it becomes a privilege. We need to ensure that even if working from home gives us a lot of excuses to sit idle in our sweatpants all day, it is high time for us to stay healthy. 

We have collated some lifestyle tips and exercises that may help us stay fit and healthy during the quarantine period. 

If this is the first time you are working outside the office, you may want to start easy by creating a routine. This is to make sure that you have enough time to do things that need to be done even in an unproductive environment. You may start with waking up early, preparing breakfast, taking a shower, and scheduling small breaks into your 8-hour work window. Since all health recommendations can be boiled down to 3 simple pieces of advice, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and getting good sleep – these should be in your routine as well.

Nutrition 

Our primary defense against viruses like COVID-19 is our immune system. If you have fruits and vegetables planted at home – good for you, it has been known that we can boost our immune system by eating fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A, B12, B9, Vitamin C, D, zinc, and minerals are found in fruits and vegetables and can help us stay healthy. Sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, kale, squash, lettuce, and cabbage are rich in Vitamin A. Walking under the early morning sun, and eating mushrooms and fish can provide us Vitamin D. The color of the fruit or vegetables can also determine the main benefit it can give – Red fruits and vegetables are anti-inflammatory; orange fruits and veggies are anti-bacterial; green ones are beneficial for the blood vessels and in controlling hypertension; lastly, purple ones are good not just for the immune system but also for brain health. We must also include lots of fiber in our diet to help cleanse our body, and as much as possible, avoid processed foods that contain preservatives and other harmful compounds that can compromise our health. 

One more thing, and it is essential – Hydrate. Drink lots of water to avoid dehydration. 

Exercise

Did you know that physical inactivity kills 5.3 million lives a year globally even before this pandemic? Exercise is vital in keeping our immune system strong and less susceptible to illnesses. 

Physical activities can be in different forms – active recreation, sports, cycling, walking, as well as activities you do at work and around the house like cleaning and sweeping. It does not necessarily have to be sports. 

Working from home can be used as an excuse to lie down or sit all day, but it is important to take regular breaks from sitting in front of the computer every 20 to 30 minutes. Take a walk around the house, breathe some fresh air, or play with your pets for 3-5 minutes. These breaks ease muscle strain improves blood circulation, and relieve mental tension. 

Physical activities benefit both the body and mind and can reduce risks of hypertension, heart diseases, and stroke. Regular physical movements also improve mental health and ease anxiety – which may be common during this hard time. 

The World Health Organization has released a detailed recommendation of the amount of physical movement needed by certain age groups. Adults over 18 years should do a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, including muscle-strengthening activities two or more days per week. Older adults with reduced mobility should do physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on three or more days per week.

Some exercises that can be done at home are: 

  • Stand up whenever possible. Setting up a standing desk may also be helpful. 
  • Walking in small places, or even walking on the spot can help you remain active. If you have a call or a voice conference, take it while walking around the house instead of just sitting down. 
  • Make the stairs, your friend. Climb the stairs up and down as much as you can
  • Use household chores as opportunities to be active
  • Join or stream exercises classes online. Take advantage of a whole video library of online exercise classes and smartphone applications. Many of these are free and can be found on video streaming sites like YouTube. 
  • Do some weightlifting exercises with improvised materials such as water bottles, canned goods, and other containers that can be useful. 
  • Make time for fun, such as dancing to music.

After all the physical activities are done, remember to relax. Meditating can help you remain calm. There are a lot of applications, and even music playlists, available online to help you.

Rest and Sleep

Amidst this COVID-19 pandemic, find the time to take enough rest and good sleep. This does not only help your body recuperate but also helps in boosting your immune system.

All three pieces of advice have been discussed – eat healthy, exercise, sleep, but there is another advice that can be of help during this worrying situation, and that is to remain calm and stay informed. The more you know, the more you can control the situation. We may not be capable of finding a cure for this virus, but we can keep ourselves fit and healthy. Let go of all the things we cannot influence and focus on the things we can. Let us support each other by supporting our health. 

Sources:

  1. Stamatakis, E. Murry, A. et.al. How to stay fit and active at home during the coronavirus self-isolation. https://theconversation.com/how-to-stay-fit-and-active-at-home-during-the-coronavirus-self-isolation-134044
  2. World Health Organization. Be Active during COVID-19. https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/be-active-during-covid-19
  3. World Health Organization. Stay physically active during self-quarantine. http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-technical-guidance/stay-physically-active-during-self-quarantine
  4. Greenpeace Philippines. How to stay healthy in the time of COVID-19. https://www.greenpeace.org/philippines/story/4248/how-to-stay-healthy-in-the-time-of-covid-19/

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