Staying healthy during lockdown
By Physiotherapist: Michael Ryan @canberraconcussionphysio
The Corona Virus isolation has impacted all of us heavily. As well as the obvious financial, emotional and spiritual impacts, this period of isolation has also impacted a lot of us physically. With working from home, interrupted fitness regimes and limited social activities, it can be easy to get into bad habits when cooped up inside all day. I thought I’d share a few simple tips and tricks from a physiotherapist perspective to help keep you as healthy and happy as possible for the remainder of this lockdown.
Tip 1: Daily exercise. As simple as it sounds, getting outside and going for a 30 minute walk is not only beneficial for our physical state, but has also been shown to improve mood. And if we have discovered one thing about lockdown, it is that looking after our mood is key for not only our own happiness, but the happiness of everyone else we live with!
Other simple ideas include: yoga/pilates apps to use at home, Entire Physio recommends the DownDog App. Body weight routines for time … set yourself up with a rest and work timer and cycle through exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, planks, mountain climbers, running/walking on the spot, up/down a single step etc. Make sure to work in a way that suits your body, is safe and makes you feel good. Finding your local hill/mountain and going for a hike – Autumn/Winter is the perfect time of year for this! Local ones include: Mt Jerrabomberra, Mt Ainslie, Mt Tennent, Mt Majura, Black Mountain, Red Hill Lookout and if you’re feeling more adventurous, there are other trails for every fitness level at Tidbinbilla.
Tip 2: Sleeping patterns. Our circadian rhythms are sensitive. They compromise of a complex relationship between light and how it interacts with our endocrine (hormonal) system. While tempting to stay up late and binge watch TV shows, the blue light we absorb through screens, and change to our regular sleep cycle, can throw our circadian rhythm off and be really challenging for our body to handle. What’s best for our body, work productivity levels and immune system is to try to keep the same rhythm of sleep we were used to pre-lockdown.
Other tips for good sleep include:
- Ensuring you exercise to help wear your body out and encourage sleep later.
- Finding a great mindfulness apps/bed stories – Entire Physio recommends: Insight Timer.
- Relaxing stretching/yoga before bed can also help to wind mind and body down in preparation for sleep; build this habit into your isolation life and continue once our lives return to normal … isolation is the time to try new self care routines and see what works for you!
- Avoiding blue light exposure; an imperative step to good sleep hygiene! Switch your devices to “night shift” or the equivalent to change the light they omit from blue to a more natural yellow light. As hard as it is, avoiding using devices in general half an hour before bed can also be useful.
As well as light, our circadian rhythms are receptive to changes in temperature. When the sun drops, the day time warmth also drops, and we are further signalled to rest. Things like warm baths can replicate this; upon leaving the bath we experience a body temperature drop which can again be useful to stimulate a sleep cycle.
Lastly, as well as helping to signal our body to sleep, it can be useful to help signal daytime … during the day! Exposing ourselves to the suns rays, no matter how cold it is outside, is important. A bit of controlled UV is important for our circadian rhythm, Vitamin D absorption and general mood – a step in helping to fight off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Ensuring you break (if you are an office worker) and get outside to eat your lunch is an important habit to get into during isolation, and continuing into your post-isolation life.
Tip 3: Mental Activity. Stimulating our minds in some form is what our bodies are used to, and should do, every day.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to work from home, this is somewhat taken care of. However, if not, we are still able to maintain a good brain workout by setting ourselves tasks through the day. These include puzzles, reading, and gardening. This is also the perfect time to study the course you have always been dreaming of doing, but never had enough time to do before. The Australian government provides free TAFE courses found here and there is a myriad of other hobbies/interests to look further into now.
Tip 4: Diet. As many of us have quickly realised, boredom eating is not only very real, but also a big problem. It is easy to crack open your first beer half an hour earlier each day, but its important to remember moderation. Creating a diet plan can help you stay fit and healthy, and if you are having difficulty with this, we have our fantastic dieticians who are here to help as well!
Stay well, looking forward to seeing you back in the clinic soon!