BY DR. RAIES AHMAD
As the new COVID-19 cases are emerging day by day, many healthy individuals are being requested to stay at home in self-quarantine. The outbreak has caused governments in various countries to take swift and protective measures like putting cities on lockdown, implementing travel warnings/bans and cancellations, extending national holidays, closing schools and postponing classes. Staying at home for prolonged periods of time can pose a significant challenge for remaining physically active. It is likely that prolonged home stay may lead to increased sedentary behaviors, such as spending excessive amounts of time sitting, reclining, or lying down for screening activities (playing games, watching television, using mobile devices and computer); reducing regular physical activity (hence lower energy expenditure); consequently, leads to an increased risk for and potential worsening of chronic health conditions.
Hazards Related to Physical Inactivity :
The World Health Organization (WHO) classified physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk factor accounting for 6% of global mortality, following hypertension (13%), smoking (9%) and diabetes (6%). You don’t have to be a great athlete or an everyday exerciser or runner to break free from a sedentary lifestyle. Here are some of the harmful effects of a physical inactivity:
Being sedentary is the opposite of being active. Weight gain due to sedentary lifestyle has obvious health risks like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. The more weight you gain the harder your heart has to work. Your heart is a muscle, and the less it is worked, the weaker it becomes.
Loss of flexibility. Blood doesn’t flow as freely through tight, bound muscles. Inflammation and pain rear their ugly heads as flexibility is lost. The more sitting you do, the more your hip flexors and low back become particularly tight. Your abs and glutes also become weaker.
Lower Metabolism. A sedentary lifestyle means fewer calories burned. A lot of your body’s ability to break down fat simply shuts down.
Osteoporosis. Your body and muscles are made to move. Your bones are made to bear the weight of movement to stay strong. A sedentary lifestyle or too sitting and inactivity can lead to osteoporosis.
Increased Chances of Dementia, Depression, and Anxiety. The mind is more linked to the lack of moving than most realize, especially in the elderly.
Physical inactivity may increase the risks of certain cancers.
Sitting too much may cause a decrease in skeletal muscle mass.
Physical inactivity is linked to elevated cholesterol levels.
Health Tips For Staying Active During Self-Quarantine
Official measures that restrict people’s movements in the presence of the corona virus crisis do not necessarily mean that physical activity must be limited or that all forms of exercise must be eliminated entirely. Exercise at home using various safe, simple, and easily implementable exercises is well suited to avoid the airborne corona virus and maintain fitness levels. These recommendations can still be achieved even at home, with no special equipment and with limited space. Practice of physical exercise should be interrupted when symptoms related to COVID-19, such as fever, dry cough and dyspnea, are present at rest. The following are some tips on how to stay active and reduce sedentary behavior while at home in self-quarantine :
Home exercises like walking in the house and to the store as necessary, lifting and carrying groceries, alternating leg lunges, stair climbing, stand-to-sit and sit-to-stand using a chair and from the floor, chair squats, and sit-ups and pushups should be considered since they require no equipment, little space, and can be practiced at any time.
Performing 5 Times Salah and Yoga Asans
Dancing, playing with children, and performing domestic chores such as cleaning and gardening are other means to stay active at home.
If you have a phone call, stand or walk around your home while you speak, instead of sitting down. If you decide to go outside to walk or exercise, be sure to maintain at least a 1-meter distance from other people.
Perform physical activities that are pleasurable, exploring spaces around the house and using equipment to move about.
Stand up. Reduce your sedentary time by standing up whenever possible. Ideally, aim to interrupt sitting and reclining time every 30 minutes. Consider setting up a standing desk by using a high table or stacking a pile of books or other materials, to continue working while standing. During sedentary leisure time prioritize cognitively stimulating activities, such as reading, board games, and puzzles.
The use of e-Health and exercise videos, which focuses on encouraging and delivering physical activity through the Internet, mobile technologies, and television are other viable avenues for maintaining physical function and mental health during this critical period.
For optimal health, it is also important to remember to eat healthily and stay hydrated. WHO recommends drinking water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages. Limit or avoid alcoholic beverages for adults and strictly avoid these in young people, and pregnant and breastfeeding women, or for other health reasons. Ensure plenty of fruits and vegetables, and limit the intake of salt, sugar and fat. Prefer whole grains rather than refined foods.
Children, the elderly, and those who have previously experienced symptoms of illness or are susceptible to chronic cardiovascular or pulmonary disease should seek advice from health care providers about when it is safe to exercise.
Given the concerns about the increasing spread of COVID-19, it is imperative that infection control and safety precautions be followed. Home stay is a fundamental safety step that can limit infections from spreading widely. Maintaining regular physical activity and routinely exercising in a safe home environment is an important strategy for healthy living during the corona virus crisis.
Dr. Raies Ahmad is HOD at KTC Hospital & Research Centre, Kashmir, BLS and ERTC Certified (Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir)
President, Seek N Treat Community Development Organization (NYKS, GOI), RCBS (University of Kashmir) & Life Member (Indian Red Cross Society). He can be reached at [email protected]