Health and Wellness in the Time of a Pandemic
In such an uncertain time where our exposure to shopping, social gatherings like playing cards, grocery getting, and even family time is limited, it is so important to be working on a healthier you!
We are constantly hearing how we need to wear masks and wash our hands to keep ourselves from contracting the virus. But what happens if we do all of this and we still get the virus?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of individuals who seem to suffer the most from COVID-19 are those that are overweight, have diabetes, underlying heart or lung conditions, and are more sedentary. More emphasis needs to be placed on getting healthier in general so your body can take on this virus and any other potential virus that may come your way!
Research supports the fact that being active can decrease your risk for developing disease in general. AND, if you do have one of the previously mentioned diseases, being active can actually help treat it! That should be enough motivation to get you to start moving and grooving now!
So, what does healthy mean?
Well, research shows that people that exercise or move regularly, socialize, go outside, eat a balanced diet, and engage in activities that bring them joy, happiness, and laughter, tend to live longer and have a decreased risk for disease in general. We will outline all of these components to health and wellness below.
So let’s first talk about movement. Movement does not mean that you have to have a strict exercise regimen, go to a gym, lift weights, or use a machine. Movement can be gardening, going for a walk, or even just doing housework. It is a good idea in general to challenge your cardiovascular system at least one time a day, allowing your lungs to fully expand and contract, and activating your muscles. As the old saying goes, “if you don’t use it, you lose it.” The more frequently and more consistently you move, the more benefit you will receive. MOVEMENT IS MEDICINE!
Here are several rewards of movement!
Prevention of disease– Movement/exercise has been shown in quality scientific research to decrease the risk for most cancers, diabetes, heart and lung disease, and even alzheimer’s. It’s a free and non-invasive way to avoid these diseases!
Improve Mental Health– Studies have shown that movement/exercise demonstrates better results with perception of mental health along with decreased depression versus medications!
Decrease risk for falls– Engaging in a consistent movement regimen means that you are consistently requiring your body to utilize all of its systems: cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, neurovascular, visual, and vestibular to name a few. When we are asking our bodies to do this on a consistent basis, we are making our body more efficient with balance, coordination, control, and strength.
Can increase social engagement– Movement/exercise can increase social engagement. Right now, it’s difficult to get together with friends to exercise together but zoom workouts, walking outside while social distancing, or having your spouse or significant other exercise with you, increases social engagement and holds you more accountable!
Improved cognitive function– More great research shows that those that continued with a regular exercise/movement program throughout their life tended to have less loss of memory, general cognition, and even were able to drive longer into their aging process than those that did not.
Next, it’s SO important to BREATHE and do things that bring you joy! I suggest the first step to this is turning off your televisions! There really is not a lot of positive TV to watch currently. Unless you are into the Hallmark Channel Holiday movies or funny TV shows, turn that TV off and go do something fun! Take the time to take a deep, relaxing breath a few different times a day. This will provide happy input to your central nervous system and potentially decrease the amount of stress hormone you are secreting due to the stress of this pandemic.
Go outside! But maintain your distance from others. Do some yard work, sit on your porch, go for a walk, or if it’s cold, get bundled up and use a blanket and enjoy a fire in a fire pit. There’s no air like fresh air! It might be chilly, but even a few minutes out in the fresh, crisp air can have wonderful health benefits. Sunshine provides Vitamin D which is so important for our body! If you cannot go outside, sit close to a window in order to get closer to natural light.
Socialize as much as you can while you distance yourself from others! Call or Facetime your friends and family! Try calling instead of texting for more human interaction. Personally, I suggest calling your friends that can make you laugh. After all, Laughter IS the BEST medicine!
Drink plenty of water and eat your fruits and vegetables! If you are stuck at home, try out some new recipes you haven’t had time to try before! Think of food as your body’s medicine. It’s so important to pay attention to what you put in your body!
Maintain a routine if possible. Get up at the same time, eat at the same time, and go to bed at the same time. Set small, achievable goals for the day. Get dressed for the day (don’t stay in your pajamas all day). Put make-up on. Feel good about yourself!
Develop a mantra you can repeat to yourself a few times when you are feeling stressed or worried. Maybe something like, “this will pass and we will be okay.” If you say it enough, your brain will start registering that thought, potentially decreasing your stress levels.
Get plenty of sleep: Sleep dictates our feeling of health and well-being. How can you enjoy life if you are not sleeping well? Keep a good routine and make it a priority of going to bed at the same time and waking up around the same time every day.
The main take home point is DO NOT abandon your healthy habits because of not being able to leave your home as much. It is more important than ever to stay healthy, happy, and cautious!
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