Physical Activity – Your Best Defence Against COVID-19
What is Physical Activity?
Though any physical movement might be considered as a physical activity, but we are talking about the ones specifically that involve the movement of different parts of your body resulting in increased mobility and cardiovascular function.
This can be anything from daily chores like cleaning and gardening to dancing, walking, jogging and participating in a sport activity or gym workout.
What is the Significance of Physical Activity for Your Body?
Your body as well as mind, both turn out to be the beneficiaries of regular physical activity. From managing high blood pressure to weight and reducing the risks of heart diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancers, it offers you immense benefits. You also get to enjoy improved bone and muscle strength along with enhanced balance, agility, flexibility and overall fitness.
For older people, improving balance means lowering and preventing falls and injuries. Regular physical activity in children means healthy growth and development with reduced risks of diseases through adulthood and old age. Additionally, regular physical activity also yields improved fundamental motor skills and better relationship-building skills in children.
Regular physical activity also serves to nourish your mental health, slashing your risks of depression and cognitive decline, not to mention improvement in your overall feeling of well being.
Significance of Physical Activity in Coping Up with COVID-19 Pandemic
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 pandemic has immensely restricted the movements of majority of people all around the globe, which makes it even more pertinent for people of all ages and backgrounds to stay as active as possible.
It doesn’t have to be a blasting workout essentially. Even a short period comprising of 3-5 minutes of physical activity like walking or stretching can be helpful in easing strained muscles, relieving mental tension and improving blood circulation.
Prior to the pandemic, may people still found a way to stay active. From picking groceries to walking to work, majority of people had one way or the other to get some level of activity, but the novel corona virus has taken this liberty from most of us now, as most of the countries remain under lockdowns or even curfews. So, it’s about time you make sure to remain active for the sake of your physical as well as mental health.
What’s the Recommended Physical Activity for a Day?
There might be different opinions about this, but it’s better sticking to the recommendations of the WHO, more so because they recommend different levels of physical activity for different groups of people. Let’s have a look at them:
For Infants Aged Less than 1 Year
- Should be physically active naturally, several times a day
For Children Aged Between 1 to 5 Years
- A minimum of 180 minutes of various physical activities a day, with 3-4 year-olds needing moderate to vigorous activity for one hour a day
For Children Over 5 Years to Adolescents of Up to 17 Years
- Should engage in moderate to vigorous physical activities (also including the ones meant to strengthen the bone and muscle) for a minimum of 3 days a week
For Adults Aged Over 18 Years
- Should engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activity (comprising of moderate to vigorously intense) within a week, or they can aim for a minimum of 75 minutes of vigorously intense physical activity during a week, which should also include 2 or more days per week of muscle-strengthening activities.
Remember, these are the WHO recommended activity levels, adhering to which will yield you health benefits. However, it’s still fine if you are not able to sustain these levels initially, because any physical activity is still better than none at all. The best way can be to start small and gradually pace up your tempo, gaining in on duration, intensity and frequency of the activities over time.
How to Cope Up with the Challenge of Staying Physically Active Through COVID-19 Stigma?
As it turns out, staying active and healthy have turned out to be biggest challenges for all of us through the COVID-19 pandemic, especially because of the restrictions imposed on various opportunities of being physically active.
In fact, that’s what makes it even more imperative to identify and plan of different ways of staying active throughout the day, effectively cutting out on the time spent sitting for extended periods of time. So, all of us need to realise the importance of increasing our activity level during these times.
Some Simple but Effective Ways of Staying Safe While Exercising Under COVID-19 Conditions
Challenging? Of course! Impossible? Not that much if you follow the tips and tricks listed here:
Avoid exercising in case of cough, fever and breathing difficulties: If so, the best thing is to rest as much as possible at home, seeking medical attention and following the directives of your local health advisory.
Go walking or cycling if possible, adhering to social distancing measures: Those of you with the liberty to do so, go walking or enjoy a bicycle ride, but not without strictly practicing the social distancing measures. One of the best ways to ensure safety is to wash your hands (face and other exposed areas) with soap and water before leaving and as soon as you get back to your home. In case there is no unavailability of soap and water, you should resort to alcohol-based hand rubs.
Start slow with low intensity physical activities if you have not been regularly active: This is very important. Or, you may end up injuring your joints, ligaments or even limbs and other body parts. So, make sure you begin your fitness journey with a low impact exercise like walking. You should also start with shorter time intervals, 5 to 10 minutes maybe initially and gradually prolonging up to 30 or so minutes working continuously over a few weeks.
Pick up the right kind of activity to slash your risk of injury: Just like the time and intensity, the type of activity you choose to begin your fitness journey is critically important if you want to minimise your risk of injury. Choose something that you enjoy doing and that you are comfortable doing, matching your health and fitness level.