Adam Hawkey is an associate professor at the School of Sport, Health and Social Sciences, Solent University. This article is adapted from an article first appeared on The Conversation.
Lockdown is a crucial measure to minimise the spread of Covid-19, but what impact will it have on health and wellbeing? Research shows that being sedentary is bad for your physical and mental health, so staying active during this difficult time is important. Being physically active helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol and can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. It also helps maintain muscle mass and bone density, reducing the risk of developing sarcopenia (loss of muscle mass) and osteoporosis (loss of bone density).
Physical activity also helps to keep your immune system working effectively as it flushes bacteria from the lungs and airways, increases white blood cell circulation and raises body temperature, all of which help the body fight infection.
As well as the physical health benefits, keeping active is a great way to ward off some of the psychological issues associated with being cooped up for an extended time. Being active helps lower stress hormones such as cortisol and promotes the release of feel-good hormones, such as endorphins.
Many people exercise in a gym or go for a run in a local park, so being forced to spend long periods of time at home is going to pose a challenge for remaining active.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO TO KEEP ACTIVE AND FIT?
- walk, run or cycle regularly (if not in self-isolation)
- follow a workout routine on an exercise bike or treadmill or any activity that raises the heart rate
- walk briskly around the house or up and down the stairs
- stand or walk around when on the phone
- put on some music and dance for 10 to 15 minutes, two or three times each day
- dig out your old skipping rope and skip away
- perform resistance exercises to help strengthen your muscles and improve your mobility. You can:
use weights or resistance bands (you can use tins of baked beans, bags of rice, bottled water or flour?)
do squats or sit-to-stands from a sturdy chair,
do push-ups against a wall or the kitchen counter,
do lunges or single-leg step-ups on stairs
If you need some guidance about the kind of exercises to do at home then the NHS has put together a 10-minute home workout to get you started.
Alternatively, apps such as Bean, which promotes fitness and healthy eating, can now be downloaded for free.
Throughout this time of uncertainty, something we can take control of is our health and wellbeing.
So, whatever your situation, try to keep active, eat healthily and stay hydrated.