Dr. Ismit Tyagi, Consultant- Physiotherapist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Palam Vihar, Gurgaon
Inadequate physical activity has been a major healthcare challenge of our times. Insufficient physical activity is a risk factor for most non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and cancer. In fact, the World Health Organization recognises inadequate physical activity as a leading risk factor for death.
WHO also estimates that one in four adults is not active enough globally. In India, increasingly sedentary lifestyles and insufficient physical exercise hassled to increasing incidence of lifestyle diseases over the past 25 years.
Unfortunately, curtailed physical activity has been one of the most negative outcomes of the COVID 19 induced lockdown on the larger population. Working from home has further increased our sedentary hours.
Additionally, the fear of contracting the viral disease prevents most people from attending their regular physical workout schedules including gyms, swimming sessions, group yoga classes, pilates and Zumba sessions, among others.
Ensuring at least 30 minutes of daily exercise is essential not only to keep your weight under control but also to prevent a series of non-communicable diseases. With COVID 19 making it difficult to get regular exercise the way we did before the outbreak, it is time to find new sustainable ways to keep yourself fit, active and healthy.
5 Fitness Regimens To Adopt During The COVID 19 Restrictions
Equipment-free indoor workouts
Many people opted to order treadmills or exercise bikes to stay fit at home during the lockdown. However, you do not always need fitness equipment to fulfil your daily need for exercise. Adequate physical activity can be achieved even indoors without the need for any elaborate equipment. If you are not overweight, a 30 minute indoor workout routine including stretching, bodyweight squats, lunges, push ups and planks can give you sufficient physical activity for the day. These strength training muscles allow you to become fitter, leaner and strengthen your core muscles, apart from boosting bone health. Importantly, you need a minimal space for this practice.
Skipping is an under-rated but highly beneficial form of physical activity. Skipping rope for 20 minutes a day is a very effective way of burning calories and shedding weight. If you have piled up additional weight during the lockdown period, adopting skipping as a part of your daily activity can help you shed the extra pounds.
A study published in the Research Journal of Pharmacy and Technology concluded that skipping rope had significant benefits for cardiovascular health and physical fitness.
Skipping is not just a good cardio exercise for heart health but is also good for toning the lower body muscles. Additionally, skipping is softer on the knees and is more amenable than running for individuals with knee pain. Skipping is also good for strengthening bones. It is important however to stretch your body for 5-10 minutes before starting your skipping routine. Also, begin with a shorter duration and gradually move on to the 20 minute routine.
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Most of us had conveniently forgotten the bicycles rusting in our store rooms, until the lockdown gave us empty roads and the right motivation to start pedalling. Many people have undertaken cycling as a fitness regime ever since the pandemic broke out. A bicycle allows you to undertake outdoor physical activity without compromising social distancing. If you take to cycling, you do not need to share the gym or the park with other people. It also serves as a healthy family bonding exercise.
An analysis of multiple studies on health benefits of cycling published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports established a positive relationship between cycling and cardio respiratory health in youth. It also found improvements in cardiovascular health in working age adults who use cycles for commuting.
Regular cycling ensures increased heart health, helps reduce extra flab from the body, improves joint health as well as muscle and bone fitness. Importantly, cycling is very easy on the knees and can be undertaken by individuals with knee arthritis as well. Cycling is also a very effective way to reduce stress and curtail anxiety.
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Even your building stairs can double up as a very useful exercise platform. Climbing stairs up and down is an effective weight loss routine. As compared to walking or running, a stair workout allows you to burn more calories. Climbing stairs also helps tone the lower body muscles, improves stamina and endurance.
While attending actual group yoga sessions may not be possible right now, there are plenty of online platforms which offer virtual yoga classes today. With mobility restrictions allowing families to spend more time together at home, scheduling daily family yoga sessions is a perfect way to improve the health of all family members.