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How to avoid Sedentary Lifestyle during the Covid-19 Lockdown

By PVM | Art of Happiness | 14 May 2020


The life during lock-down can be difficult, and doing less exercises and maybe working from home can have a negative impact on the health and well-being. Sedentary lifestyle has become a significant public health issue and sedentary lifestyles appear to be increasingly widespread despite being linked to a range of chronic health conditions, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and early death. Some factors, such as age, gender, race or family history of cardiovascular complication will have a bigger impact on the health if the lifestyle is sedentary.

Sedentary lifestyle also appears to have a negative impact on mental well-being. This combination of the physical and mental impact to health makes a sedentary lifestyle particularly problematic.

Extended periods of inactivity can reduce metabolism and impair the body’s ability to control blood sugar levels, regulate blood pressure and break down fat. The solution to avoid a sedentary lifestyle is doing more exercise because physical activity has positively impact other risk factors such as stress levels, obesity, blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol levels, and diabetes. The human being is designed to be active, not to sit behind a desk or on a couch all day.

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Increasing physical activity and reducing the time spent being sedentary are the main methods to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and early death.

In one week, two combined sessions of stretching, cardiovascular exercises and weight training, and at least 3 sessions of 30 minutes of running/jogging will meet the minimum physical activity guidelines

Physical activity is important, but spending the majority of the day being sedentary is still dangerous. To reduce the amount of time spend being sedentary, especially during the lock-down, we can walk to work, spending more time doing chores around the house, DIY or gardening and to spend some free time being active rather than watching television or playing video games. However, if we choose to binge watch TV, we can get up and walk around during commercials.

If we are working from home, we can setting reminders to stand up every 30 minutes when working at a desk.  In the break we can walk, stretch the muscles or just do quick exercises such as start jump, squats or push-ups. Injuries can happen to those stuck to their seats without regular breaks, representing a direct health cost to fit alongside the indirect potential costs of losing productivity. Keep in mind that stretching is important during a break but stand up and moving around will contribute to well-being and muscle tone. Several short breaks are better than one long break, as they can help break up the monotony of a long workday. Any exercise is always better than no exercise at all

 

Exercise tips:

Warm up and cool down. Start by warming up with some simple stretches that will help improve flexibility in your joints and keep your muscles strong. Stretch your legs, back, and torso, and go for walk/run. When you finish with your main physical activity, do the same stretching exercises to cool down.

Raise the heart beat. Cardiovascular exercise is great for your heart and lung. Daily aerobic activity, like walking, jogging or cycling should be mandatory to maintain our well-being.

Build strength. Strength-training and lifting weights, or other activities, such as push-ups, squats, biceps curls with dumbbells, or even carrying groceries, taking the stairs, or lifting your laundry can all contribute to your overall strength, balance, coordination, and muscle tone. If you don't have dumbbells at home, you can easily replace them with bottles of water.

Sneak in exercise. Make use of idle time, such as commercial breaks, by doing sit-ups, squats, lunges, or biceps curls. You can even do any kind of exercise while watching TV.  Walk or do leg lifts or another physical activity while you're on the phone. 

Stay motivated. Even if all gyms shut, we can do online workouts, dance or spinning classes, or to follow an online fitness program. Challenge your friends to physical activities and see how's doing better.

 

Easy Stretching Work-Out

Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific muscle, a tendon or muscle group is deliberately flexed or stretched in order to improve the muscle's felt elasticity and achieve comfortable muscle tone. If a sudden pull or stretch occurs, the body responds by automatically increasing the muscle's tension, a reflex which helps guard against danger as well as helping to maintain balance.

Spinal flexibility: While on your hands and knees, keep your knees directly under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. Keep the abdominal muscles firm and the neck relaxed in its normal position, with your ears in line with your shoulders. Drop the head down and press your back upwards by tightening your abdominal muscles.

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Neck flexibility: Tilt your head to one side. This will stretch the muscles on the side of your neck.

 

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Legs flexibility:

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The amount of activity you need to do each week depends on your age, and the NHS collated a guide on how to get and keep active, for various groups.

Busy parents can set a time for physical activity and stick to it. Splitting the activity up throughout the day will help them can achieve the daily target. They can be active with their child, play in the garden or the park. If parents are physically active, their children are likely to be active too, so lead by example. Instead of watching TV or spending silly amounts of time on phones or tablets, encourage your child to find fun activities to do on their own or with the whole family. When it comes to play, children should do what they enjoy and running around is the best way of burning off energy.

Young people should take up running or jogging. Creating a new routine where you walk or run on certain days will help help with motivation and commitment. Dancing in front of the TV or while listening music is the cardiovascular exercise available for everyone. All you need are some great tunes and you can have fun and burn calories at the same time

Office workers can cycle or walk to work, specially when the Government guidance recommends avoiding public transport. If you need to drive, try to park further away from your office and walk a bit because any exercise is always better than no exercise at all. Stand while talking on the telephone or take the stairs instead of the lift. Office workers can exercise before or after work, or during your lunch break. 

Older adults (65+) can  keep active around the house by cooking, housework and walking. Senior sports or fitness classes can be found on Youtube. Gardening, digging and shovelling can provide a good workout while Yoga is suitable for all ability levels, combining poses with breathing and helping to build strength, flexibility and balance.

Disabled people have pretty much the same options, from getting out to exercising. All the activities can be adapted an the required level. Cycling, and adapted tricycles, quadcycles, recumbants, hand-powered bikes called handcycles, and power-assisted bicycles,  are alternatives for those unable to ride a regular bicycle. Find out more at British Cycling. Low-impact exercises such as Tai-Chi, Yoga, Pilates have been adapted to suit the needs of people with different types of disabilities. However, get advice first because exercises not suited to your disability may be harmful. 

 

Images from : Quick guide in Stretching: Flexibility and Muscle Tone

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My author page: PV Mihalache

 

 

Related links:

NHS - Keep Active

Quick guide in Stretching: Flexibility and Muscle Tone

British Cycling 

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PVM
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Art of Happiness
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