This article was published by The Telegraph on 14 May 2020.
Covid has exposed us to a “new normal”. But, there are some fundamentals that will remain unchanged and will continue to affect our quality of life, such as Activities of Daily Living (ADL). These activities are a reciprocal function of age. For the elderly, ADL are generally affairs such as bathing, personal hygiene and mobility. For the young, they are obviously far more dynamic and challenging. Now, the younger we are, the more intense are our activities, but, the older we get, the more difficult it becomes to perform even the simplest ones. Back pain, knee issues, morning stiffness, stress induced headaches are all signs of a gradual systemic deterioration. Then there are other physiological issues such as cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, hypertension, muscular atrophy and cardio respiratory weakness. All these ailments don’t happen overnight. They creep up upon us and make small but significant changes to the way we live and perform. Accepting them and moving on is not the correct option. Scientific advancements in the field of fitness have given us tools to strongly moderate this gradual systemic deterioration. We can sustain great muscle tone, strong immunity, effective cardio respiratory efficiency and good health, well into our old age. For maximum effect, lifestyle disorders such as obesity, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption must also be eliminated alongside a good fitness regime. To keep good health and sustain and perhaps exceed the requirements imposed by ADL we need an exercise schedule that broadly encompasses the following: 1. Cardio respiratory fitness: The heart, blood vessels and lungs are responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles for production of energy. The more effective this system, the greater is the body’s ability to perform work without being fatigued. Efficient functioning of the cardio respiratory system also aids in boosting immunity. Walking, running, etc., are all exercises that contribute to an improved cardio respiratory system. During lockdown restrictions you may try the following: • Regular walks within the house, compound, balcony or terrace for at least 30 minutes a day. • For the fitter people, stair climbing, skipping or HIIT programs are an option. • We recommend 150 minutes of cardio respiratory exercise per week. 2. Muscular strength and endurance: Muscular strength is the force exerted by muscles and endurance is the duration of time the force can be maintained without fatigue. Muscular atrophy is when muscles waste away due to inadequate physical exercise. Losses of muscle mass and muscular atrophy are both conditions that can be easily reversed with systematic resistance training. With no access to gyms, we recommend body weight training for maintaining muscle tone and strength. Some examples of such training that can be carried out during lockdown: • 20 repetitions x 3 sets of half-squats, push-ups and abdominal crunches performed in series. • Isometric resistance training such as planks, wall squats and superman posture. 3. Flexibility: It is the ability of our joints to perform activities through their full range of motion. Yoga is a great format to increase flexibility and can be easily practiced at home. At this time, one can take help of an online fitness professional to work out a specific flexibility routine. 4. Mind and body connect: Last, but not the least, emotional wellness is very important to ADL. Mind and body connect must be included in every exercise regime. It is normally achieved through breathing and meditation techniques. Now more than ever, I recommend that a mindful mediation routine be followed. It can be done at the end of an exercise session to encourage the body to regain a sense of calmness after exertion.