How to stay fit and healthy during coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

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 (PA). 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 PA, where your focus should be, how to think about exercising,
equipment, how much you should be doing, and much more.

*American Society for Nutrition student member, Antonio Faneite, a performance and health coach, has contributed his advice for staying fit during this time. Faneite’s focus is on Spanish speaking athletic and general populations.

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.

Benefits

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 similar to 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.
  • Immune support: Regular PA helps your immune system function.
  • Weight management: It shouldn’t come as a surprise that regular PA paired with a balanced nutritious diet helps with weight management. Excess weight is associated with higher health risks.
  • Reduces health risks and prevents diseases: Regular PA 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: PA 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, PA can lessen behavioral 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 general 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. I summarized a few abilities I think people at home, both young and
older populations, should focus on.

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
with your PA.

  • 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 (ROM). 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.

Hollow body hold for strength

1-arm plank for strength

Push-ups for strength

Squat jacks for aerobic capacity (feet in-out + squat)

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