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How to stay active

It has been a crazy unprecedented few months for everybody. Most countries in the world have had cases of infection, we really are all in this together!

As we work our way through it, I thought I would touch base with patients about the human body. We, as humans, are extraordinary in our abilities, and this is something we must look after. Staying healthy during times like this become all the more important with links to mental and physical health changes. Exercise is proven to release a key chemical, endorphin, into the system which help us feel good about ourselves. Exercise also helps us destress by reducing stress chemicals in the body known as adrenaline and cortisol. Exercise also helps us keep healthy by stimulating the heart, muscles and bones to keep getting stringer as well as lowering your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol, and reduce your blood sugar (helpful for when everyone has taken up baking during lockdown!).

We should exercise nearly every day. That doesn't necessarily mean hitting the gym or training for a marathon. But it does mean 30 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise such as walking or 15 to 20 minutes of vigorous exercise. More is even better, but the first steps provide the most benefit. Aim to walk at least two miles a day, or do the equivalent amount of another activity. You can do it all at once or in 10- to 15-minute chunks if that fits your schedule better. Add a little strength training and stretching two to three times a week, and you'll have an excellent, balanced program for health and stress reduction.

There are some super easy ways to increase your daily step count….

  • take a slightly longer route home when going to your daily shop.

  • get off at the bus stop before your usual stop and walk the last bit.

  • if you work in an office building take the stairs rather than the lift. If you work on the 30th floor get off at floor 25 and walk 5 flights!

It is ok to feel anxious and worried during these times. What is important is looking after the body physically as best as we can. And remember, it is a known fact that physical fitness has a positive impact on mental health too… ‘when the body is busy, the mind often rests’… It is also important to control what we can control, this will help feel self-worth and self-image. There is a great sense of positivity when you have completed your daily exercise goals… use this personal sense of achievement as often as possible!

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