Sufficient physical exercise is vitally important, now more than ever. Exercise is known to be a powerful way to prevent and manage chronic diseases and boost the immune system, which can assist in protecting you against infections. In addition to boosting the immune system, exercise is especially important now because it can reduce stress, prevent weight gain, and improve sleep.
Exercise may be especially beneficial for older adults and people with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease. Regular exercise can help to improve balance, flexibility, strength, mobility, and cardiovascular health as well as boost energy and overall well-being.
Despite all of this, did you know that only around 1 in 10 adults over the age of 65 years engage in enough aerobic and strengthening exercises to meet the recommended dosage?
Don’t make the mistake of not incorporating sufficient physical activity into your life. Age should not be a barrier to staying active – in fact; older adults have the most to gain. Although it might be tempting to avoid exercise during these challenging times, exercise is undoubtedly crucial under normal circumstances and essential to your physical health and mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s why you should stay active during the COVID-19 lockdown:
- Physical inactivity is a major, yet controllable risk factor for most chronic conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and several types of cancer. Exercise can help prevent you from developing these conditions, and if you already have a chronic condition, exercise can slow its progression, prevent complications and improve the control of the condition.
- Sufficient physical activity improves overall strength, balance and coordination which promotes independence and a lowers risk of falls in older adults.
- Being active is a great way to combat stress, anxiety and depression and improve your overall mental wellbeing.
- Getting some exercise can help you sleep better, and we know that sleep is very important for physical and mental health.
- Exercise can increase your life expectancy, adding years of high-quality life to look forward to.
- Staying active can save money and reduce health care costs.
- Moderate physical activity boosts the immune system. According to the ACSM, although exercise cannot prevent a COVID-19 infection if you’ve been exposed, each bout of physical activity mobilises millions of immune cells which can “minimize the deleterious effects of the virus, ameliorate our symptoms, expedite our recovery times and lower the likelihood that we can infect others with whom we come into contact”.
Important safety information: During this time, it is very important that you remain safe and avoid any risks while staying active at home. Do not exercise if you have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing.
Tips for staying active at home
Moderate exercise is safe for most older adults. Give your doctor a call if you have a chronic condition like diabetes or heart disease and your doctor has not yet given you the green light for your exercise programme, or if you want to start a new exercise programme.
Check the environment you exercise in to ensure that it is safe and that there is a sturdy chair or counter nearby which you can use if you lose balance. When exercising at home, wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
Get a sufficient exercise dosage
Older adults need to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week in order to reap the numerous rewards that exercise offers. Silver Fit offers Pre-recorded classes (which are being expanded) and LIVE online class, if you have not yet joined in on the fun, do so now!
***Click here to join***
Avoid prolonged sitting
Sitting for too long makes you a ‘sitting duck’ for chronic disease. Even if you are spending large chunks of the day sitting, simply getting up regularly can improve your health. Aim to break up your sitting periods with small breaks. In this time you can take a walk around the house, do a household chore or even march on the spot.
Follow a routine
It is a lot easier to maintain your health and stay physically active if you design a simple routine for your day. Use a diary to plan your day to make sure that there is time devoted to being active.
Put on some music
Listen to your favourite songs and dance in your own living room.
Remember to drink water
Drink water throughout the day to prevent dehydration.
Brisk walking, cycling or jogging can help you get some much-needed fresh air while staying safely away from others.
Tackle calorie-burning chores
Chores such as mowing the lawn, washing the car, or cleaning out the garage provide excellent opportunities to build muscles and burn calories. In addition to the sense of accomplishment you will feel after your workout, completing a household task will yield even more feel-good benefits.
Keep an eye on your diet
Coronavirus-related concerns may affect dietary habits, leading to higher calorie consumption that could promote weight gain. Skipping fresh fruits and vegetables in favour of stocking up on calorie-dense, non-perishable foods and financial difficulties may cause people to opt for less expensive, ultra-processed food options. Think about what you are eating, and where you can substitute for healthier alternatives.
“Worry is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.” Erma Bombeck.
In these uncertain, worrisome times, make sure to invest in yourself and take care of yourself. Pass this on to a friend or family member who you think may need to hear how much benefit one can gain through exercise especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic.