COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the entire world, from living conditions to the working culture. Social distancing and self-quarantine brought in a drastic change in the lifestyle of people, globally. A new form of working emerged due to the lockdown restrictions changing people’s outlook and disposition. The work-from-home culture (WFH) brought about a sea change to physical and mental well-being of the working class.
According to several reports, people are dealing with a significant amount of screen time, sitting in front of their computers and laptops with very less physical activities. This has increased the level of stress and anxiety of the people.
Studies suggest that the more than ‘one and a half year’ of WHF and social isolation is definitely a toxic combination linked to diminished mental health of the people.
According to a research conducted by Iowa University, during the early period of the pandemic, people who were subjected to a higher amount of screen time, with very less physical activity were at a greater risk of stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness.
However, when many of them who improvised on their daily routine, devoted some time towards daily physical activity and concentrated on healthy diet were able to alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. People who remained sedentary faced deteriorating mental health condition.
However, the good news is, simple physical activities and few changes in the lifestyle can improve mental health problems induced by the pandemic.
Jacob Meyer, director of the Wellbeing and Exercise lab at Iowa State University, and other exercise experts shared some tips to get started:
Take smaller steps towards physical activity
Psychologist Jennifer Carter at the Ohio State University suggests that people often get confused whether to start exercise or not. According to Jacob Meyer, emphasis on starting some physical activity such as walking around the house in intervals or doing household chores is a great idea. To start with, going from zero activity to even a little bit of activity can have amazing health benefits. Meyer also added people who do regular exercise have better minds compared to people who refrain from it.
Make exercise easier for yourself
An exercise plan that is easier can be continued for a longer time. For example some people might consider walking over jogging or vice versa. You should always opt for activities or exercises that give you pleasure. Getting started is the hardest part of the process. Therefore, never blame yourself if you are struggling to start. Building in some external accountability and making appropriate plan to stick to your workout regime is quite important. If taking up a workout plan all alone seems boring to you find out a partner who can be a part of your plan, it can be a family member or a friend.
Make walking a habit
Molly McDonald, a certified personal trainer with Corporate Fitness Works says to begin by just walking more. “You can walk within the rooms, from one room to another, use stairs, use your garden to walk, if you don’t have stairs or garden just walk within your house” advises Molly.
Meyer also agrees that walking more and sitting less will make a radical change to your body and mind. “If you have virtual meetings, you can simply go to another block or anywhere in your neighborhood to conduct your meeting and again come back this will give you an opportunity to put forth some physical activity”, added Meyer.
Five minutes of workout can make a radical change
If it’s arduous for you to find out a particular time in your day to walk or perform any other exercise, simply you can add a few minutes of quick exercises every hour. Even if you take out just five minutes for workout every hour, it will help in reducing stress.
McDonald says, “Just set a timer for five minutes and add it to your calendar.”
According to health experts, just 150 hours of moderate exercise in a week will help in improving mental health and 40 minutes of daily exercise can help achieve that weekly goal.
Increase the intensity of exercise in short doses
Meyer says, “Finding out five minutes time for work out every hour is a great start but increasing the intensity of workout in those five minutes help boost your mental health”
“If you want to do more intense short workouts, a lot of bodyweight exercises works well throughout the day. You can also startdoing lunges, squats, planks and pushups. These exercises help in bringing up good circulation. The easiest exercise to do is to start with squats, if you have never done exercise,” says McDonald.
Invest your time in doing household chores
Many experts suggest, by doing household chores such as cleaning the house, moping the floor or simply washing dishes can help improve one’s blood circulation and mental health. Any type of physical engagement will help cut down your sitting time. Your mind gets engaged in doing something else while the physical activity will boost your metabolism and mental health.
McDonald says, “Work from home policy has compelled us to spend long hours in virtual meetings, but not every time we have to be on camera. Whenever you feel like you need to do exercise while be on meetings, do it.” One can simply go mute and turn off the camera and try five minutes of intense workout, he suggests.
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