It’s “National Walk to Work Day” today. But in these strange times, very few of us are likely to be walking into work. However, we can still embrace this day and use the time to take good care of ourselves, continue exercising or even start a new fitness regime.
It’s very possible to stay healthy and fit even during ‘lockdown’.
Clinical nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her top five tips to help boost your wellness during these difficult times.
Walk if you can
Walking is still one of the best, but often most under-rated forms of exercise. It’s also great for improving immune system function. Try to walk briskly and get the heart rate elevated. If you’re able to get outside now, and it’s safe to do so, make your daily exercise really count. And if you’re not used to walking very far, try to go a little further each day, but always walk for at least 30 minutes if possible.
Whilst walking is great exercise for the whole body, including the legs, leg muscles still need further challenging. Why not stop every ten minutes or so and do 10-20 squats? This is one of the best exercises you can do for the legs. Keep squats as low as possible for best effects.
Create an ‘at-home’ circuit
Short, sharp circuits, often referred to as HIIT (high intensity interval training), are incredibly effective for weight loss and fitness. Even better, you can set up a simple circuit in your living room. Jumping jacks, burpees, side, forward and back lungs, jumping squats, high knees carried out in a continuous loop will certainly get the heart racing.
The beauty of this type of training is that it raises your metabolic rate, so you’ll get the ‘after-burn’ if you do this first thing in the morning. There are plenty of circuits you can find on-line. Whilst it may be hard to keep your motivation up right now, if you do find yourself with more time on your hands, then try to use the time purposefully. You may find your fitness levels improving, especially if you’re someone who generally struggles to find time to exercise.
Look after your good bacteria
Whilst it’s important to keep the outer body working well, you need to look after the internal too. Clearly, we don’t know everything that’s going on within and often the body doesn’t tell us until we get sick. But prevention is always better than cure and what you eat can have a significant impact on wellbeing.
It’s super-important right now to look after your immune system to protect yourself as best you can. The beneficial bacteria in your gut (also known as friendly flora) are the gatekeepers to the immune system. It needs nourishing and feeding with the right foods. Try including natural yoghurt, fermented foods such as tofu, tempeh, kefir and kombucha, plenty of green leafy vegetables and asparagus. Drinking green tea is also good for feeding the gut bacteria.
Having enough sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. It’s also essential for a healthy mind and body. Stress and anxiety can really impact our ability to get a good night’s sleep. If you are badly affected, then try to take steps to minimise them.
Sometimes reverting to a simple routine can be helpful. Start with a warm bath, using some essential lavender oil, light some candles, read a book and download a calming app. Limit the time you read or listen to the News right now as this can exacerbate stress. Sometimes, you must cocoon yourself in order to get your sleep patterns on track.
Plan and enjoy your meals
It’s often difficult now to get the food you want when you want it. However, try to ensure you’re eating nutrient-dense foods as much as possible. Choose unrefined, whole grains rather than white, refined foods and keep sugar intake as low as possible; sugar is very detrimental to immune system function. Choose well balanced meals with protein and plenty of vegetables.
Clearly, if you’re stuck indoors for long periods, it’s very tempting to snack but do try and put the fridge in isolation as well as yourself; your health will be much better for it.
So, whilst we all come to terms with the new way of the world, try to move more and keep well through a good diet and exercise regime.
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