Including Physical Activity to boost immunity
There is a direct relationship between your diet, physical activity, and health. Your nutrition is a key player when it comes to physical, mental, and social well-being. And it’s important for preventing disease.
Lifestyle factors may also determine if you’re going to get sick or remain healthy. One of those factors is physical activity.
A sedentary lifestyle is usually associated with an increased risk for chronic disease, loss of movement, and decreased immune health.
For those reasons, physical activity and movement are extremely important during the coronavirus pandemic. With that in mind, I will cover the benefits of physical activity, where your focus should be, how to think about exercising, equipment, how much you should be doing, and much more.
Who is at risk?
Older adults (age 65 and older).
Those with chronic disease (diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease).
Those with compromised immune systems.
Physically active individuals usually live longer than those who are inactive or may have a risk of heart disease. Inactivity is an important risk factor like high blood pressure, smoking, or high cholesterol.
These are some benefits of exercise:
Stress and anxiety relief: Stress and anxiety are rising with the current pandemic, and it can lower your immune response. Exercising releases chemicals in your brain, such as serotonin and endorphins which can help improve your mood, reduce the risk of depression and cognitive decline, and delay onset of dementia.
Regular physical activity helps your immune system function.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that regular physical activity paired with a balanced nutritious diet helps with weight management. Excess weight is associated with higher health risks.
Reduces health risks and prevents diseases:
Reduces blood pressure as well as risks of serious health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke when it’s paired a balanced nutritious diet.
Bone, muscles, balance, and flexibility:
It also improves bone and muscle strength and increases balance and flexibility. This is important for everyone, especially older adults because it can prevent falls and injuries. As for children, it aids with growth and development and sets healthy habits for the future.
For children, physical activity can lessen behavioural issues such as ADHD and help with concentration during schoolwork which is important now that they’re at home all the time.
Steps to start being physically active at home:
Focus on weaknesses
As a rule, you always want to have an intention before starting a workout routine or program. This pinpoints what you’re not good at, and therefore what you are trying to improve.
Go through them and analyze which ones you excel at, which ones you are moderate at, and which ones you lack the most. I would start working on the latter, and progressively move towards the rest. This doesn’t mean when you’re working on one, you’re completely ignoring the rest, but rather is a tool to have a specific intent.
Strength and core strength:
This is the amount of force a muscle can produce against some form of resistance. This resistance can come from external objects or your body weight. Your core is a set of muscles that play a key role in many movement patterns. Improving core strength may improve motion.
Aerobic capacity and endurance:
This is the ability of your heart and lungs to get oxygen to your muscles for their use.
Flexibility, Mobility, and Stability:
Flexibility is the capacity of moving through your full active and passive range of motion. Mobility is moving your joints and muscles properly in an active manner through their range of motion. Stability is maintaining control of the position and movement of your joints. People usually lack mobility and stability in their joints and lose overall movement.
Balance and coordination:
Balance is the ability to stay in control of your body’s movement and coordination is being able to move two or more body parts with control.
Be the scientist of your own body
Be aware and constantly check your body. How well your body is adapting to physical activity changes from person to person. Keeping an eye on your weight, brain function, energy levels, and even your stool will serve as a guide.
Include a partner and the kiddos:
Humans are social creatures, including a partner in exercise makes it more competitive, fun and adds accountability. This is a way to keep you engaged. If you live by yourself, try contacting friends and family via video call, social media, sending each other a pic once you complete your workout, and use other platforms to stay connected.
Physical activity is great way to improve health in children. Scheduling exercise as a family activity and including game breaks in the middle will keep children engaged and attentive.
Set daily and weekly goals:
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Setting daily and weekly goals will keep you on track and aware of your improvement. Don’t set yourself up for failure though; make sure your goals are SMART:
“10 minutes of PA a day” or “30 reps of an exercise a day.”
Using the stopwatch in your phone to measure 10’ or counting each rep.
Start small. If you have been sedentary for a while, start with 5’ a day. Then move to 10’ and so on.
Exercises have to be meaningful and relevant to your life. I think preventing being affected by coronavirus is pretty relevant.
You need a time frame for each goal. Daily and weekly goals give you a time frame. You need to complete X amount of reps in a day and X amount in a week.
Balance your sitting time:
A lot of people are spending more time than usual on their home desks or just sitting around during quarantine. Being aware of how much time you’re spending being sedentary can help you maintain a balance. Great tools to help you with this are using a standing desk and setting an alarm as a reminder to stand and move.
How much exercise a week?
I use the World Health Organization (WHO)’s recommendations on the amount of activity people should do.
Infants under the age of 1 year: Should be physically active a few times a day.
Children under 5 years of age: Need moderate to vigorous activity, 180 minutes a day.
Children and adolescents 5-17 years of age: Need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity, including strength activities, at least 3 days a week.
Adults over age 18: Need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity throughout the week.
That said, start wherever you can. Some physical activity is better than none.
How to include exercise in your day:
Here are some ideas that have worked with my clients and myself when trying to set up new habits.
Schedule a block during the day for your workout routine:
If it’s not on the schedule, it doesn’t exist.
Every hour on the hour alarm:
Every hour on the hour perform a certain amount of reps of any given exercise.
Pay for stuff with some reps:
Before taking a shower or before watching a movie on NETFLIX, pay for it with a certain amount of reps of any given exercise.
Going outside is a great tool to start implementing physical activity in your life. Of course, stay safe and practice social distancing. Carrying hand sanitizer with you can be helpful as well. I usually use an alcohol-based sanitizer as soon as I walk in the house and then take a shower.
I hope this article provided you with some value during this crazy time. And I hope you can take some of the ideas and concepts I shared and implement them in your life. I’m always happy to answer any questions and engage with people, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you have issues understanding something.
Special thanks to: Antonio Faneite – read further for details at: https://nutrition.org/how-to-stay-fit-and-healthy-during-coronavirus-covid-19-pandemic/