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Kids And Adults Must Exercise During This COVID-19 Era, WHO Campaign

As people continue to practice social distancing and are advised to stay indoors, unless extremely necessary, there has been a definite reduction in physical activity, around the globe.

Along with the new normal, came the new sedentary lifestyle where there is little or no physical activity. Staying indoors 24/7 can affect one's mental and physical health, especially when the cause for it is something as uncertain as to the Covid-19 pandemic.

People, irrespective of age need to compensate for the growing sedentary behaviour with physical activity to ward off diseases and improve their overall health [1]. The World Health Organization (WHO), on Thursday, issued its first guidance in a decade, where the importance of physical activity in the Covid-19 era was the central point [2].


WHO Launches Campaign “Every Move Counts”

The campaign by WHO cites the importance of physical activity and the ways it can help improve one's life, especially amidst this pandemic. The Ever Move Counts campaign focuses on highlighting the ways regular physical activity can help improve one's physical, emotional, and mental well-being [3].

"Increasing physical activity not only helps prevent and manage heart disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer, it also reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduces cognitive decline including Alzheimer's and improves memory," said Ruediger Krech, WHO director for health promotion [4].

The WHO campaign asserts that adult and children should exercise regularly to avoid any health problems, as well as to improve their immunity and prevent the risk of lifestyle-related diseases [5].

"That is limit sedentary time, and do more activity to offset sedentary time, particularly for those who do long hours of sedentary, which includes a lot of people who have got office-based work environments. For children we also recommend they limit sedentary time, particularly screen time" [6].


WHO Guidance For Adults And Kids

On analysing the guidance set forth by WHO, the following are the important points to be considered:

• All adults should do a minimum of 150 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week [7].
• Children and adolescents have an average of one hour of daily physical exercise.
• Limit your time in front of electronic screens.
• Include walking, cycling, gardening and cleaning to your daily activities.

In addition to the general guidelines, WHO has added the following for specific cases as well:

Pregnant women: Postpartum mothers and pregnant women require 50 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week [8]. This is also beneficial because studies have pointed out that there is a 30 per cent reduction in gestational diabetes amongst women who are physically active during pregnancy [9].

Adults over 65 years: WHO advises people of this age group to add muscle strengthening and activities focusing on balance and coordination. Practising these, apart from improving the overall health, also help reduce the risk of falls later (as you get older) [10].


Simple Exercises To Get Out Of The Sedentary Lifestyle

Sitting all day takes its toll on your body and your health and has been associated with higher mortality and disease rates [11]. A certain amount of daily exercise can counter the health issues stemming from a sedentary lifestyle. Here is a list of simple exercises you can do to slowly get out of your sedentary lifestyle:

  • Planks: Lie on the floor by facing down. Place your elbows under your shoulders and stretch out your legs. Tuck in your abs and raise yourself off the ground. Maintain a straight line from head to your heel, look down at the floor and do normal breathing. Stay in the position for 30 seconds and do 2 to 3 sets initially, later increase the hold time up to 60secs.
  • Tilting your head back and forth, side to side: Tilt your head back until you are looking upwards and hold this position. Slowly return to your starting position and lean your head forward, with your chin resting on your chest. Hold the pose. Slowly return to your starting position. Do 5-10 repetitions of this exercise, up to three times a day.
  • The desk chair swivel: Sit upright, with your feet slightly hovering over the floor. Then, hold the edge of your desk with your fingers and thumb. Using your core muscles, swivel the chair from side to side. Go back and forth 15 times.
  • Lunges: Keep your spine neutral and head up, then place your hands on the hips and step forward with one foot until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Drop your back knee down and balance on your back toes. While doing this, keep your back straight in line with our back knee and thigh. Go back to your position by pushing off your front foot and stepping the legs together.
  • Side stretches for shoulders: For this, all you have to do is stretch your shoulders to the side to ease the muscles.
  • Stand in front of a chair or table and repeat sitting down and standing up 10 times. You can do this at least three times a day.
  • Rest your back against a wall and move your feet away from the wall. Hold the position as long as possible and repeat it.
  • Do chair squats by lifting your rear end off your seat and hold for a few seconds.

Easy And Simple Exercises For Kids

Exercise for kids should be fun because if they don't enjoy doing it, you might as well just not ask them to do it. Instead of ‘working out,' make it ‘exercise play.' Here is a list of easy exercises for kids that require no equipment or large outdoor spaces to do. These exercises can be done for 5-10 minutes or make a schedule by adding different types of exercises to keep the kids engaged and entertained.

• Running
• Jumping (jumping jacks, one-foot hops, criss-cross feet etc.)
• Squats
• Lungers
• Sit-ups and push-ups

Once done, finish with stretching to keep muscles strong and healthy, and to cool-down the body after the workout/exercise session.


On A Final Note…

The best way to analyse your exercise hours is to use wrist or hip devices that can track your physical activities. Monitoring your activities can help you better understand the time you put in for exercising and avoid being over-active (and tire yourself).