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Mind Matters | The importance of physical activity amid COVID-19

Mind Matters | The importance of physical activity amid COVID-19

Sanika Divekar

Published: 22 April 2020 6:56 AM GMT

Given our current situation and the increase in the lockdown period, it has majorly affected our fast-moving lifestyle. We are now, mostly, confined to our couches since our work has shifted to our houses! A lifestyle with a lot of sitting and lying down, with very little or no physical exercise has become the new normal. Such a sedentary lifestyle can have an impact on our overall health - physical as well as mental. According to a WHO study, 4 out of 10 Indians are leading an inactive lifestyle and it's a major health concern.

While the physical risks of such a lifestyle are one too - obesity, weight management issues, osteoporosis, heart disease, etc; a sedentary lifestyle can be linked to a higher risk of psychological problems like depression. So what should be done in order to combat this? To begin with, start slow with a basic workout routine and then build up on that.

  • Household chores - since we are at home currently, spare your time for some doable house work, gardening, cleaning, doing the dishes, wiping down countertops after meals, taking out the garbage etc. Maintain this activity throughout the day while managing your work.
  • For every 20 minutes of sitting, try to stand for eight minutes and move around for two minutes. You can take scheduled breaks amidst your work or study and give your legs a stretch. You may need to set a reminder using your phone, especially if this is a new habit you are trying to inculcate.
  • Take breaks as you binge watch your favourite movie - if you have been sitting in the sameplace throughout the movie, make it a point to use the intermission wisely, stretch or take a walk to break the sedentary pattern.You can also multitask, water your plants, organise your room, fold your laundry while you binge watch!
  • Try a fitness tracker - make use of the technology rightly, to give you prompts when you have been sitting too long or tracking your steps and day-to-day activity.

The important thing is to find a type of workout that is more of a joy than a chore for you, and then to stick to it while adding some occasional variety for an extra challenge and sustainable motivation.

Also read: Mind Matters | How to take care of mental health during coronavirus

We all know the benefits of physical activity on our body but we tend to overlook its effects on our minds. People who lead a physically active life regularly tend to do so because it gives them an enormous sense of well-being. They feel energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. Research suggests that it’s also a powerful medicine for many common mental health challenges. Working out regularly can have profound positive impacts on mental health problems like depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It helps in relieving stress and boosts your overall mood. No matter your age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise as a powerful tool to feel better. Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression, and is thus, used as an important adjunct in therapy. Physical activity promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including neural growth and releases endorphins that make you feel good.

Quick Tip: A few minutes of physical activity are better than none at all. If your schedule does not permit 15 or 30 minutes of exercise, or if your body tells you to take a break after 5 or 10 minutes, that’s okay, too. Start with 5- or 10-minute sessions and slowly increase your time.

Also read: Mind Matters | Pressure and perspective – The 2 P’s of performance

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