The extensive social distancing policies put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 mean most people will have to spend much, if not all, their time at home. Self-isolation means far fewer opportunities to be physically active if you are used to walking or cycling for transportation and doing leisure time sports. But equally worryingly, the home environment also offers abundant opportunity to be sedentary (sitting or reclining). While self-isolation measures are necessary, our bodies and minds still need exercise to function well, prevent weight gain and keep the spirits up during these challenging times.
Exercise can help keep our immune system become strong, less susceptible to infections and their most severe consequences, and better able to recover from them. Keeping active everyday is good for your body, mind and spirit especially during these stressful times. And more physical activities you do can improve your sleep which is also important for good health. Being active means engaging your body in more physical activities in order that you remain healthy within this lockdown period and afterwards.
How much physical activity?
Global recommendations are for all adults to accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.
Any activity is better than none, and more activity provides more physical and mental health benefits.
As several countries are already under lockdown, it is uncertain for how long you can go outside for a walk, run or cycle. The key question is how can people meet these guidelines when restricted to the home environment?
Sitting, standing and movement
Take regular breaks from continuous sitting in front of your computer, tablet, or smartphone every 20 to 30 minutes. For example, you could take a few minutes break to walk around the house or take some fresh air on the balcony.
There are many great resources for such indoor bodyweight exercises for people of all ages online. Aim for at least a couple of own bodyweight sessions per week, with each session involving two to four sets of eight to 15 repetitions of each strength-promoting exercise. Make sure you take a two to three minutes rest between sets.
Just do something!
Left unattended, the self-isolation imposed by COVID-19 will likely skyrocket sedentary time and will drastically reduce the physical activity levels for many. Our suggestions are only a few examples of ideas that need no special equipment and can be done within limited space.
For more ideas take a look at the online resources of reputable organisations such as the World Health Organisation. The end goal during self-isolation is to prevent long term physical and mental health damage by sitting less, moving as often as possible, and aiming to maintain fitness by huffing and puffing a few times a day.
Stay active and ahead of COVID19!