Staying healthy during a pandemic and beyond

As we head into the cooler months it becomes more important to take extra steps to protect our health - particularly during the COVID -19 crisis. Continually following social distancing regulations is one of the best ways to stop the spread and flatten the curve, but for many people this becomes a roadblock as gyms and health clubs remain closed. 

The good news is that there are many ways you can continue to stay active and healthy while abiding by the lockdown laws. Find all the inspiration to help you get started on the road to better health during lockdown below.

Does Exercise Increase Immunity?

A recent review of studies exploring the link between exercise and immunity was conducted by James Turner, a professor of health at the University of Bath. In an interview with the New York Times, he explains that exercise will likely lessen the risk of infection because exercise boosts our body’s immune response.

Negative effects of exercise and immunity come from the risk of exposure to pathogens at gyms, and also when people push their bodies too far. It’s also important during these times, that you continue to practice good hygiene and common sense during exercise to limit the potential of exposure to germs and viruses. So as long as you stay within your limits and keep clean, exercise can help flatten the curve by keeping you healthy.

Ease Into Exercise

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If you have not been exercising, now might not be the ideal moment to start an extremely ambitious new workout routine. By going beyond your physical limits, you risk depleting your body by pushing it too far. You also increase the risk of injury, which is the last thing you want while we are in lockdown as it may be difficult to access treatments like physiotherapy.

If you’re relatively new to exercise, take it slow. Start with gentle exercises such as yoga or pilates and don’t skip the warm-up or cool down. Yoga practitioners such as Yoga With Adrienne have gained mass followings by providing free guided routines on Youtube that people can do at home. There are many options for beginners - routines for absolute beginners; morning sequences and even 30-day programs which can help you develop your yogi skills at a healthy pace and stave off repetitive workout boredom.

BASI Pilates’ Youtube channel offers the same sort of variety for those that prefer pilates over yoga. BASI Pilates also offers teacher training, so several of their videos also explain the theory behind the moves if you are interested in learning about the why behind your movements.

For something a little less formal, try one of the pilates routines offered on the widely popular Blogilates. There are videos that take you through the basics of pilates, but also workouts that incorporate pilates style movement to general exercise. There are also many shorter videos which allow you to pick several and create a routine of your own, but if you need inspiration, you can take a look at her challenges and printables to help you navigate through the many videos on offer.

When You are Ready to Break a Sweat

If you’re not new to exercise and want to break a sweat, there are many online trainers that can get you there. Well established channels such as Fitness Blender offer more than over 600 at-home videos for you to choose from. You can select from various high-intensity style workouts, routines that target specific muscle groups or choose your workout based on length. 

If you prefer to get your cardio from dance-style classes, you can get your fix through the official Zumba Youtube Channel or PopSugar’s DanceFit playlist which offers everything from Latin dance classes to belly dance classes that will get your heart pumping without feeling like a traditional workout. The best part is, you can do these dance classes in the privacy of your own home, so you can really let loose!

Get Healthy With Audio

If you’d prefer to give your eyes a rest and workout without a screen, there are many apps and podcasts that can guide you through exercise. Apps such as Workout for Women offer guided exercises - from boxing, stretches, yoga and even week-long programs to help you stay fit at home. If you’re stretched for time, the 7 Minute Workout App offers an array of different exercises that you can do at home, all in seven minutes.

ABC’s Classical Flow Podcast offers guided yoga and meditation classes that are accompanied by classical music to help you care for your body and mind. And if you really want to dive into a healthier lifestyle, you may want to consider diving into some health podcasts such as Body and Soul’s Healthy-ish podcast or Nike’s Trained podcast to broaden your knowledge on topics ranging from exercise, mental health, general wellness and even nutrition.

Embrace the Outdoors

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Venturing outdoors for the purposes of exercise is currently permitted in Australia, so long as you do so relatively close to your home. Outdoor exercise is a great way to stay physically healthy and will do wonders for your mental health by getting you outside of your home.

If you’re new to walking or running, let an app such as Couch to 5K guide you in the process. You can also use a tracking app such as Strava to help measure your progress. Fitbit also allows you to compare your results with friends and family that also have FitBit devices which can be a fun way to stay connected through fitness during this time. Just be sure that if you do head outdoors, you maintain a 2 metre distance from people around you and if you are showing any symptoms, however mild, your workouts are probably best kept indoors.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

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There’s no denying that we’re living in stressful times. Limited contact with friends and family, unknowns and continued negative news is likely to affect your mental health at some point. The World Health Organisation addressed the stress on mental health as a result of the outbreak and put forth suggestions for how we can stay mentally well.

These include limiting your exposure to the news if it makes you feel anxious or stressed and taking care of yourself through healthy coping strategies such as getting sufficient sleep, eating healthy foods, exercising and keeping in touch with your loved ones.

Allowing yourself to rest is especially sage advice, particularly if you are exercising more than usual. It can be tempting to try and keep the pace of your normal life, but perhaps this time is better used as a chance to slow down and reconnect to our bodies and minds and evaluate what parts of normal life we would like to get back to and what parts of life (such as stress) you’d be better off leaving behind.

By using this time to develop healthy habits, you’ll help flatten the curve by keeping yourself healthy and be on your way to building a healthy lifestyle that will serve you beyond this crisis.

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