Exercise is medicine
For all of us our lives’ have been greatly affected in the past year by Covid-19. It has had a huge impact on our lifestyle and mental health particularly with the ‘stay at home’ restrictions.
Many of us have had to transition to working from home, which has resulted
in a substantial decrease in activity. A recent article published in the British Journal of sports medicine estimates this to be approximately a 30% increase in our sitting time and a 30% reduction in our physical activity (Ammar et al. 2020). (Infographic: Wedig IJ, et al. 2021).
With the risk factors for serious illness from Covid-19, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.These
conditions are all assisted with physical activity so this drop in activity isn't positive!
Physical inactivity itself has been linked to 3,000,000 deaths per year which is a staggering figure and evidence strongly links a physically sedentary lifestyle to a significantly increased risk for chronic disease (Hall et al. 2020).
During these last 6 months alone, in the clinic we have seen many patients presenting with problems related to a substantial reduction in physical activity, with soreness and stiffness due quite simply to a lack of movement. This is even seen in cases where people are still doing several sessions of exercise in the week, but where cumulative movement on a daily basis has plummeted.
Step counts have dramatically dropped with the loss of commutes and mid-day lunch run’s, the lack of team sports and local exercise groups only just returning, not to mention the closure of gyms. So many of us have lost their regular schedules that enable us to keep active. This is causing its own set of problems and in the long term is detrimental to all aspects of health.
The benefits of exercise are multi-factorial, with a positive effect on immune function, mental health, maintaining a healthy weight, increasing fitness and quality of life, and treating and preventing chronic illness.
Guidelines suggest that we should be doing 150 – 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity per week.
This equates to five 30 minute sessions 5 times a week as a baseline. This can include activities such as household tasks like cleaning or gardening, as well as general movement during the day with the goal of sitting less and moving more, but should also include exercise that raises your heart rate and include some strength basis.
Strength training is recommended for all age groups, and should be performed twice per week for 60mins. However, it's important to consider that this year of less activity has deconditioned (weakened) us, and with the gyms, pools, running clubs etc all re-opening in the coming weeks it is important to pace yourself and gradually restart yourself back into your routines.
Should you be concerned about your return to activity, a chat with the Sandycove Physiotherapy team can help guide you back to your best. We have a new gym addition to the clinic which will give us the ability to work with you 1-2-1 and gradually reload you with strengthening exercises so when the gyms are back so will you be. A supervised gradual strengthening program with one of the team will be just what you need.