COVID-19Medical Articles

Exercise in the time of Covid-19

Dr. Reham Elgafy Head of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department, Physical and Rehabilitative Medicine at Al Ahli Hospital

Reminding everyone that exercise remains as important as ever to help keep our population healthy especially during this extra-ordinary time.

Most people are currently nervous about the potential impact of COVID-19, and we in the Physical & Rehabilitation Medicine dept. AAH, wanted to take the opportunity to remind everyone that we should still consider physical activity a top priority -besides diet & maintaining proper hygiene – for two main reasons. 

Firstly, research does show that exercise can support our immune system and secondly, exercise is proven to support our mental health. We all understand that exercise supports our physical health, however, during times of crisis such as this, it is the first activity we tend to ignore. Being active can not only keep us healthy, it can also help us fight off infection.

As a result of the inability to move around and spending more time indoors, there may be some weakness in muscle groups and weight gain. Thus being active as much as possible at home and exercising regularly is crucial for all age groups.

Exercise is also unique as it can boost our mental health, and during this anxious time it’s more important than ever to keep our minds clear and focused. It can also be a means of gathering family members in the same house to do something useful and fun if done together.

Instead of reaching for a snack or the remote control during the long hours of home stay, how about lacing up your trainers and heading for exercise whether outside around your home in the form of walking, jogging or biking if applicable or inside your house, with your spouse/father/mother or children. All you need is trainers, loose cotton outfit, colorful yoga mats and most important setting a routine (a fixed time for daily exercise). Many fitness companies are offering free virtual classes and resources to access from anywhere, at any time. There are also loads of exercises for different abilities all what you need is a strong will to start.

For individuals working at a home desk for long hours, try some simple stretches to open up your chest cage and back: Stand straight and lean down to touch your toes, or link your hands above your head and pull up to elongate your spine.

Another stretch for improving posture is the shoulder roll: Sit or stand comfortably. As you inhale, raise your shoulders to your ears. As you exhale, pull your shoulder blades down and together. Do this five times in a row, a few times a day. One should take a deep breath in front of an open window for fresh air, hold it for a few seconds, and then breathe out completely. This should be repeated without straining oneself. Wishing everyone to stay healthy and active until this hard time passes safely.

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