Importance of Exercise
Dr Ravindran Pillay K K | Orthopaedic Sugeon - Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
With locked down measures, stay ay home orders, curfews and closure of the fitness facilities, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically restricted people’s movement. Physical activity and exercises have multiple known health benefits. New research suggests that staying active potentially decreases the risk of severe Covid-19 illness.
Physical activity is linked to the prevention of a number of different chronic diseases, as well as improved immune function and improvement in health in individuals who already have chronic conditions as well.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both.
The following are some tips on how to stay active and reduce sedentary behaviour while at home:
1. Take short active breaks during the day
Short bouts of physical activity add up to the weekly recommendation. Even performing domestic chores such as cleaning or gardening are means to stay active.
Even in small spaces, walking around or walking on the spot can help you remain active. If you have a phone call, stand or walk around your home while you speak instead of sitting down.
3. Stand up
Reduce your sedentary time by standing whenever possible. Ideally, aim to interrupt sitting and reading time every 30 minutes. Consider setting up a standing desk by using a high table or stacking a pile of books or other materials to continue working while standing.
Example of home-based exercies
1. Knee to elbow
Touch one knee with the opposite elbow, alternating sides. Find your own pace. Try to perform this for 1-2 minutes, rest for 30-60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. This exercise should increase your heart and breathing rates.
3. Back Extensions
Touch your ears with your fingertips and lift your upper body, keeping the legs on the ground. Lower the upper body again. Perform this exercise 10-15 times (or more), rest for 30-60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. This exercise strengthens your back muscles.
Place your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Lift one arm forward and the opposite leg back, alternating sides. Perform this exercise 20–30 times (or more), rest for 30–60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. This exercise strengthens your belly, glutes and back muscles.
7. Chair Dips
Hold onto the seat of a chair, with your feet about half a meter away from the chair. Bend your arms as you lower your hips to the ground, then straighten the arms. Perform this exercise 10–15 times (or more), rest for 30–60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. This exercise strengthens your triceps.
9. Child’s Pose
With the knees on the ground, bring your hips to your heels. Rest your belly on your thighs and actively stretch your arms forward. Breathe normally. Hold this position for 20–30 seconds (or more). This position stretches your back, shoulders and sides of the body.
11. Legs Up the Wall
Bring your hips close (5–10 cm) to the wall and let your legs rest. Close your eyes, relax your body and progressively deepen your breathing. Concentrate on your breath, trying not to focus on any thought or concern. Rest in this pose for up to 5 minutes. This position is meant to be comfortable, relaxing and de-stressing.
Support your forearms firmly on the ground, with elbows under the shoulders. Keep hips at the level of the head. Hold for 20-30 seconds (or more if possible), rest for 30-60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. This exercise strengthens your belly, arms and legs.
Place your feet at hip distance with the toes pointing slightly outwards. Bend the knees as much as feels comfortable, keeping the heels on the ground and the knees over (not in front of) the feet. Bend and stretch the legs. Perform this exercise 10–15 times (or more), rest for 30–60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. This exercise strengthens your legs and glutes.
Plant your feet firmly on the ground with the knees over the heels. Lift the hips as much as it feels comfortable and slowly lower them again. Perform this exercise 10–15 times (or more), rest for 30–60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. This exercise strengthens your glutes.
8. Chest Opener
Interlace your fingers behind your back. Stretch your arms and open your chest forward. Hold this position for 20–30 seconds (or more). This position stretches your chest and shoulders.
10. Seated Meditation
Sit comfortably on the floor with your legs crossed (alternatively, sit on a chair). Make sure your back is straight. Close your eyes, relax your body and progressively deepen your breathing. Concentrate on your breath, trying not to focus on any thoughts or concerns. Remain in this position for 5–10 minutes or more, to relax and clear your mind.