Stay Active During the COVID-19 Pandemic
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so many people have been stuck at home and been restricted in their movements. One way to deal with this stressful time is to get some regular physical activity.
It can help both the body and the mind in many ways – from improving blood circulation and muscle activity to helping to relieve mental tension, stress, and strain. In these times, it can even give the day a routine and be an excellent way of meeting family and friends while outdoors.
In fact, just taking short breaks from sitting to do some physical movement can help reduce high blood pressure, risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and various cancers, as well as helping improve fitness and wellbeing.
How much physical activity should you do?
The WHO offers specific recommendations about how much exercise is necessary for different types of people for them to stay healthy.
- For children under 5: around 180 minutes each day, of moderate or vigorous activity for at least an hour.
- For children and adolescents between 5–17 years: at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day to strengthen muscle and bone.
- For most adults over 18: around 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, or a combination of both.
- For older adults: physical activity that helps to enhance balance and prevents falls, at least 3 days per week.
If it is difficult to find this much time to engage in exercise, always remember that any physical activity is better than none. Even 3-5 minutes of physical movement (like walking or stretching) each hour in between sitting down can do a lot to relieve muscle tension, and improve activity.
These recommendations can also be easily followed at home, even with limited space, and no special equipment is required.
How can you keep active when you're at home?
Being active during self-isolation, quarantine, and lockdown can be quite challenging. However, there are lots of ways you can plan to include physical activity (and avoid sitting for long periods). These include:
- Walking around your home, doing chores, cleaning, or gardening
- Playing with your children or pets
- Walking to buy groceries
- Doing exercises at home, such as yoga, dancing, and more.
What physical exercise is recommended?
For people in lockdown:
When you’re staying at home for long periods of time, it can be difficult to maintain a level of physical activity. This can affect health, wellbeing and mental stress. Here are some ways you can stay active while at home:
- Take short breaks during the day to stretch, walk, or do some other activity.
- Watch online exercise classes or videos to follow some pre-set exercises inside the house.
- Walk around the house during calls or meetings.
- If you can visit a park or other outdoor areas, walk, cycle or exercise there, but be sure to maintain a safe social distance from other people.
For people who are COVID-19 positive:
Since COVID-19 affects the lungs, it is important to know what kinds of exercise can be helpful and what can be harmful and even worsen symptoms.
- If you are asymptomatic or you have mild symptoms, you’re likely recovering in isolation at home. Some types of mild exercise that can help you feel better might include yoga or walking, but nothing too strenuous.
- If you have symptoms such as fever, body ache, fatigue, or severe cough, it’s best to rest in bed for a few days until your symptoms subside.
- If your symptoms become more severe, such as chest pain, trouble breathing, high fever, confusion, severe drowsiness, or a blue tint to the lips or face, seek medical attention straight away. In such cases, treatment and permitted physical activity will be decided by the doctors and healthcare providers.
For people recovering from COVID-19:
Experts suggest that people of all ages should be careful when resuming exercise after recovering from COVID-19. This is especially true of seniors and those with comorbidities, as exercising too soon can lead to a number of health complications. However, here are some exercises that you can talk to your doctor about starting with:
- Short 10- to 15-minute walks around the house or a few basic stretches can help you get back into motion. However, it is important to slow down or stop if you begin to feel breathless, dizzy, or tired.
- Certain types of yoga can help regain flexibility and movement, especially after being on bed rest for a while. Consult with your doctor before you decide which poses and asanas to include, and if you begin to feel overly tired or out of breath, take a break.
- If it has been a while since your recovery, and you feel up to it, you can start jogging again. Start slow and increase the time as you go.
How to stay safe while you exercise?
Always stay safe when exercising during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that you must follow some basic precautions, such as social distancing and more. Additionally, do not exercise if you experience any COVID symptoms (like fever, cough, and difficulty breathing); instead, stay at home and rest.
When you are exercising indoors
- If you are healthy and exercising at home, make sure to know your limits and when to stop to reduce the risk of injury.
- If you are isolating due to testing positive for COVID-19, make sure to remain in quarantine away from your household members even as you exercise.
- If you are exercising in a communal space, such as a gym or community area, maintain at least a 1-meter distance from others and follow other COVID precautions like hand-washing.
When you are exercising outside
- Whether you are going for a walk, run, or bicycle ride, practice physical distancing and wash your hands thoroughly before you leave and as soon as you get home.
- If you are able to go to a park or public open space, follow any restrictions, such as a limited number of people, closed days, etc.