As new cases of the COVID-19 virus continue to emerge, it has become necessary to maintain quarantine laws to curb the rapid spread of the virus by staying at home. Many countries with active fitness centers and locations will experience a temporary shutdown which would make it difficult for fitness enthusiasts to keep up as staying indoors for an extended period will pose a challenge to remain physically fit. Low levels of physical fitness will take its toll on our health, quality of life, and overall well-being as much as self-isolation can also take its toll on us and cause additional stress to our metal health. These and many more are reasons why you should keep fit and stay healthy while you self-quarantine. Physical activities and relaxation techniques can serve as valuable tools to help in staying fit while self-quarantining.
According to WHO, maintaining at least 75 minutes of vigorously intense physical activity or 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week will help people remain physically fit. This they can do at home at their own pace with no special equipment but with limited space. Here are some tips on how to live healthily and stay fit and reduce redundant behavior while at home.
Tips on staying healthy when self-quarantining
- Take short active breaks during daytime
Short periods of physical activity can build up towards your weekly targets. You can dance, perform daily chores, walk around your neighborhood, clear and clean your surroundings, and every other form of physical activity as a means of staying active at home.
- Register for an online exercise class/health program
You can tap into the knowledge of fitness experts as you stay at home this period by partaking in online health programs or exercise classes. Most of these programs are free online, and some can be found on YouTube but if you’re at a beginner level in performing any of these programs, take caution and become aware of your limitations.
- Take a Walk
Even if it’s in small spaces, or circles or around a spot, walking improves your metabolic rate and help you remain active. Rather than stay in one place for a long time, you can move around and try to stay active e.g. If you receive a call, move around while talking rather than sitting down or standing in a spot. If you decide to take your walking outside, ensure to maintain a social distance of 1 meter from other people to avoid the spread of the virus.
- Take a few minutes to stand
Reduce your amount of idle time by standing whenever you get the opportunity. You should aim to interrupt your sitting and reclining time once every 15-30 minutes by considering setting up a standing desk using a high table or by stacking a pile of books to continue working while you stand. During inactive periods, prioritize activities that stimulate your minds such as board games, reading, and puzzles.
- Take out time to relax
Relaxing your mind and meditations are two ways that can help you remain calm. Apart from these, you can take a good nap, or listen to music while you let your mind wander. There are many ways you can relax, but you have to find what works for you and stick to that technique. You’ll see the result soon.
- Eat healthily
For optimum performance and good health, you have to remember to eat healthily and very well. Also, stay hydrated as these are means to easily keep yourself healthy as you have fewer activities to do. Health experts recommend that you drink lots of water more than you drink sugar-sweetened beverages. You should also reduce or avoid alcoholic beverage intake as an adult and as a child, pregnant woman or breastfeeding parent, you should also avoid such intakes for other health reasons. Instead, you can have plenty of fruits and vegetables that will help replenish the body and give it the right nutrients. Ensure you limit your sugar, salt, and fat intake. Try to consume more whole grains than refined foods.
Apart from these tips above, you can practice certain exercise routines at home to keep you in shape and physically active. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Exercises to practice at home
- Knee to elbow
This is quite a simple exercise as all you need to do is touch one high knee to an opposite elbow and alternating sides, as you go, you pick up speed at your own pace. You can do this exercise for 1 – 2 minutes, take a breather for 30 - 60 seconds, and repeat the same process at least 7-10 times as this would increase your heart rate and breathing.
To planks, support your body with your forearms firmly on the grounds, with your elbows under your shoulder and your hips at the level of your head. Hold it for 20 – 30 seconds then take a breather for 30 – 60 seconds. If it’s your first time, then the 20 -30 seconds timeframe is perfect but if you have a stronger endurance level, you can do more time so say 60 seconds or more. Repeat this process at least five times a day as this would strengthen your arms, belly, and legs.
- Back Extensions
Perform your back extensions by lying on a flat surface, touching your ears with your fingertips, and lifting your upper body, keeping your legs on the ground. Lower your upper body when you can no longer hold it. Perform this routine 10 -15 times and rest for 30 – 60 seconds then repeat up to 5 times or more as this would strengthen your back muscles.
Separate your feet at a hip distance with your toes pointing outwards. Bend to your knee level as much as you feel comfortable, keeping your heels on the ground firmly with your knees not going ahead of your feet then bend and stretch your upper legs. Perform this routine 10 – 15 times or as much as you can do with a breather in between for 30 – 60 seconds, then repeat for up to 5 times. Your glutes and legs strengthen through this practice.
- Side knee lifts
Use your knee to touch your elbow, lifting the knee to its side and alternating sides. Try to perform this exercise for 1-2 minutes while finding your pace, take a breather for 30 – 60 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. This would increase your heart and breathing rates.
Place your hands on the floor and rest the weight of your shoulders on it. Place your knee directly under your hips as well, lift one arm forward and stretch the opposite leg backward then alternate sides. Perform this routine for 20 – 30 times, rest for 30 – 60 seconds and repeat up to 5 times. Your belly, back muscles, and glutes would strengthen eventually with constant practice.
Place your feet firmly on the floor with your knees directly over your heels. Lift your knees as high as it feels comfortable and lower it slowly back down, do this routine for 10 – 15 times, or as much as your body can carry then rest for 30 – 60 seconds and repeat over again for up to 5 times. Your glute would become strong from constant practice.
- Chair dips
Bring a seat and place it directly behind you, hold onto the rear of the chair, and put your feet half a meter away from the chair. Lower your body towards the floor, resting your body weight on your bent arms then pull yourself back up straightening your arms. Do this routine for over 10 – 15 times and as much as you can endure then rest for 30 – 60 seconds with a repeat process up to 5 times or as much as you want. You will strengthen your triceps with this process.
- Chest Opener
Put your fingers in an interlaced form from behind your back. Stretch your hands and put your chest forward, stand in that position for at least 20 -30 seconds or as long as you can hold it together. This position would stretch your chest and shoulders and help make them broad.
- Child’s pose
Get on your knees and rest your hip on your heels. Bringing your belly forward like your resting on your thighs and stretch your hands forwards actively, hold your position for 20 – 30 seconds, or as long as you can hold. Your back, shoulders, and sides of your body will stretch adequately in this position.
- Seated Meditation pose
Comfortably sit on the floor with your legs crossed. If you want a more comfortable position, sit on a chair, and cross your legs but make sure you keep a straight back pose, relax your body, close your eyes, and deepen your breath progressively. While in that position, concentrate on your breathing and nothing else, do not let your mind wander towards your thoughts or worries while you retain this position for 5 – 10 minutes or more. This would help you clear your mind and relax your nerves.
- Raise legs on a wall
Lay on your back and bring your hips close to the wall. Raise your legs and rest them on the wall, relax your mind and body and deepen your breath progressively, channel your energy and thought process to your breathing while you try and focus on nothing else. Remain in this pose for at least five or more minutes, and you will find your body de-stressing and relaxing.
Eating a variety of balanced diet
There is no amount of supplement or food we would take that will boost our immune system against the COVID-19 virus. However, eating a well-balanced diet with lots of plant and animal protein, whole grains and healthy fats will provide us with the essential nutrients we need for a healthy immune system function and good health. As self-isolation may lead us not to function correctly, we should remember to pay close attention to our diet as there’s every tendency to overeat which would lead to growing fat which is not suitable for our health system.
Establish and practice a mindful eating routine
At times when we’re idle and don’t have much work, there’s every tendency to feel sad, tired, stressed and bored. Following a daily routine would help us manage this boredom and take away our daily stress. One sure way to maintain a daily routine is to stick to our regular meal planning and mealtimes as this would help manage our hunger level, keep up with our nutrient requirements and let us get the most out of our food, cutting off wastage.
During long periods of idleness, we may tend to eat more than we usually do. We have to come up with mindful eating habits to maintain a healthy eating habit and manage our energy intake.
How do you practice mindful eating habits?
- Don’t give in to the urge to eat, take hold of that urge, and become aware of how much you consume.
- Don’t eat directly from the package or bag, instead serve your food as that will help control how much you eat
- When eating, try not to get distracted by your TV or your phone. Put down the phone and turn off the TV while you want to eat
- Eat-in small bits, take small bites and try to chew properly while savoring the taste and smell of the food. Try to chew at least 30 times out of each bite.
- Put down your utensils or take a minute break after each spoonful. Don’t pick up your utensils when you already have food in your mouth.
- Don’t rush the food all at once, rather try to eat little by little. If you feel full, keep whatever is left for next time.
Try to stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is vital to your overall health as the amount of water we take determines our level of physical activity and environmental condition. To remain in good health and be physically active, we need to take in a large amount of water daily as this is a sure way to stay hydrated. Other sources that can serve include unsweetened coffee or tea, and flavored or infused water.
It’s important to remain healthy, especially in times like this when there’s a virus outbreak. We need to ensure our immune remains functional and not exposed to any form of infection or else we are at risk of a total breakdown.