By CANDICE CHRISTIE
Being physically active is essential for health and wellbeing and should be encouraged during this period of lockdown. It has a positive physical and psychological benefit and boosts the immune system if you adhere to the physical activity guideline which are globally recognised. Boosting your immune system is one way of protecting against Covid-19.
For the sake of both our physical and mental health over the coming weeks, we need to find ways to integrate good chunks of physical activity into our daily schedule, and stick to it. We need to get or keep moving. The challenge in South Africa, however, is that outdoor physical activity is likely not permitted in the shut down. This means that you need to be creative in being physically active indoors or within your garden.
The guidelines are that we need at least 30 minutes of ‘moderate to vigorous physical activity’ almost every day as adults while children need the same intensity but 60 minutes every day. ‘Moderate to vigorous activity’ is anything that makes your heart and lungs work harder than normal and are equivalent to things like a good fast walk or jogging, running and cycling. So this is the level you are aiming for to maintain health and well-being.
This could be difficult to achieve for those who are currently inactive so start by doing five minutes a day and slowly add a minute each day until you get to the target. So set yourself and your children some targets and build slowly.
Here are some ideas to off slowly, if you’re not used to these exercises:
Sit in a chair then stand and sit down repeatedly.
Stand close to a wall and put your hands against it at shoulder height. Shuffle your feet backwards and slide your hands down until you’re leaning against the wall with your body at an angle of around 30 degrees. Alternately flex and straighten your arms to perform this form of starter pushup.
Run or walk up and down the stairs.
Skip (with or without a skipping rope) or play hopscotch with the kids outside. Let the children jump on the trampoline, play soccer, cricket or netball with them in the garden. Let children climb trees and play outside – all of this is considered as part of physical activity so it does not have to be formal or organised it can just be play – kids will do it if its fun!
If you prefer formal and organised exercise for yourself, google ‘at home exercises’ so you can watch videos of exactly how to do them. A good app to use is peebee which is free and can be downloaded at https://www.peebee.app. Members of local clubs such as CrossFit or Natural Affinity have created online workouts. CrossFit Grahamstown has Zoom classes so you are in a virtual group setting with a coach watching and encouraging you in the comfort of your own home with others exercising in the comfort of their homes whom you can see.
In addition to increasing levels of physical activity, limit sitting time by getting up every 30 minutes and walking around and, if you can, limit children’s screen time (if possible!). The guidelines are 2 hours per day for screen time but with home schooling for some kids this will be difficult.
The point is to try and do your best to keep active, sit less and reduce screen time. You can do this!