Expert Advice from Dr. Virloy Lewin, Health Promotion Coordinator at the Department of Health
COVID-19 has changed many of our daily routines in a way no one expected. While some have returned to work, many are still working from home. With this unprecedented lifestyle shift, there is a potential for the normalization of a more sedentary lifestyle packed with activities like watching television, sitting while reading for long periods, or sitting at your computer for longer-than-usual periods of time. We must stay proactive, to maintain an active lifestyle in the era of physical distancing. Even if you are not directly affected by COVID-19, or tested positive, it has no doubt had an impact on your day-to-day routine, which could negatively affect your overall health.
What are some things we can do to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle and routine? The trick to healthy living is making small changes such as taking more steps, adding fruit to your cereal, or having an extra glass of water. This is a challenge for many but making a plan and being prepared can help.
Here are five ways you can start living healthy without major changes:
One of the biggest problems in Bermuda today is lack of activity. We know of its benefits; however, avoid it because we’re used to being sedentary or being afraid because of the notion that exercise has to be vigorous to be worth our time. Remember, moderate activities such as, chores, gardening and walking can make a difference. Some of the benefits to adding a little movement to your life are: reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes; maintain bone mass; improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression; enhance self esteem and reduce stress.
The human body is made up of mostly water; therefore, staying hydrated is important. Studies show that drinking adequate amount of water not only helps to maintain a healthy weight, but a healthy body, also. The mind is able to think more clearly. It also aids in digestion and maintaining energy levels. It is recommended to drink six to eight glasses of fluids daily. If you’re not a fan of water on its own, try adding some fresh lemon, ginger, cucumber or mint to add flavour. This is also great for digestion.
Practicing self-discipline and avoiding “emotional eating” due to stress that may be related to the changes surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it affects our lives is imperative. A healthy diet can help with weight management and it can also improve your health and quality of life as you get older. See the EatWell Bermuda dietary guidelines (https://www.gov.bm/eat-well-bermuda-dietary-guidelines-bermudians) to assist you in following a personal eating plan to establish and keep good habits.
Good sleep is essential to our overall health. According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH), “Immune system activation alters sleep, and sleep in turn affects the innate and adaptive arm of our body’s defense system.” While the amount of sleep needed for good health and optimum performance mostly depends on the individual, the CDC recommends adults age 18-60 years get seven or more hours of sleep per night.
Finding a comfortable balance between the demands of work and the responsibilities of home will help you to be healthier and more productive. Effective stress control results in the enhancement of both mental and physical well-being. Exercise and practice of relaxation methods are the best ways to keep chronic stress in check, but it is not realistic to take a jog or a meditation break every time you’re faced with a stressful situation. Techniques like controlled breathing exercises when you feel your stress levels soaring have been proven to be beneficial.
Please be aware that although eating nutritious foods, physical activity, adequate rest and taking care of our mental health make us more resilient, it’s not a cure nor does it guarantee immunity from contracting COVID-19. In addition to these suggestions, first and foremost be sure to practice the Department of Health’s guidance on physical distancing, washing your hands, and wearing of masks in public spaces when physical distancing is not possible, and talking with your health care provider about any concerns you may have regarding your health.
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