Another COVID-19 impact: de-conditioning
Every one of us has been impacted by COVID-19 in one way or another, but one of the effects of the pandemic that is not often talked about is deconditioning or a loss of physical fitness or strength.
Deconditioning can lead to chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease and obesity; poorer mental health and reduced diabetic control or prevention. It can also lead to worsened musculoskeletal, low back and chronic pain.
Deconditioning of your major muscle groups, especially your legs, is also cited as a major factor in falls in adults who live in nursing homes. It also leads to an increased risk of falls overall.
That’s the bad news – something we’ve unfortunately been getting a lot of since March.
But the good news is there are some things we can do about it. All of us, young and old, must be intentional about moving around more naturally again before deconditioning leads to poorer health, even if we considered ourselves active before the pandemic.
Whether you are working at home or back at the office, we need to recognize that our daily lives have changed drastically due to COVID-19. We need to recognize the amount of time we are sitting now has increased or even doubled compared to what we were doing before.
So much of our normal activities have moved online or been altered in intensity. In many cases, this leads to us sitting more often and spending less time walking or standing. We can see this in little ways, such as how our grocery shopping and restaurant visits have moved to storefront pickups – reducing the amount of physical activity we would normally be getting through our daily activities.
This reduction in activity has been called “sitting disease” in health circles, because of the harm it can do to people’s health.
Thankfully though, there are a few easy ways people can increase their physical activity each day:
- Make changes to your workspace to allow you to incorporate some standing work. Try to stand for 15 minutes or more every hour, which will reduce your sitting time by up to 25%.
- Make a point to move every half hour. Some smartphone and watch apps can prompt you to get moving.
- Do some steps. Count your steps/distance walking daily and set a goal to increase your steps or do several repetitions of stair-climbing at home or at work.
- Try loaded movement training. This is an emerging concept in fitness and rehabilitation that allows people to develop total-body strength by moving around and carrying normal household objects in natural, functional ways (laundry baskets, milk or water jugs, pet food containers, grass clippings or leaf bags with yardwork, etc.) People need to do this often enough to raise their heartrate and do enough repetitions to challenge their body’s strength and endurance.
- Incorporate more exercise into your day. Ride your bike rather than taking your car or return to your local gym for personal training or group classes.
If you are having trouble getting active again, see your local physical therapist who can help get you on a path to moving more with less pain.
October is National Physical Therapy Month. For more information on this observance or how physical therapy can help you move more, go to www.ChoosePT.com
This message has been brought to you by the Platte County Lifestyle Coalition, a local group dedicated to promoting healthier lifestyles by focusing on the benefits of physical activity and healthy nutrition.