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Guest Column | Stay at home but don’t become a couch potato

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With stay at home, work from home and quarantine becoming an integral part of our lives, many of us are using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to binge on unhealthy food and skip workout.

This is dangerous as eating healthy and staying fit are all the more important during a pandemic. A well-balanced nutritious diet helps keep the immune system up and running and ward off disease. Diet, physical activity and health are all interlinked and influence our physical, mental, and social well-being.

Cut out junk

Our lifestyle will determine whether we will remain healthy or fall sick and how effectively we will be able to fight an infection. During a pandemic, it is especially important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which are rich in vitamins and minerals and fibre. Junk food does not provide us with the right amount of calories, and nutrients. Besides, processed food increases our proclivity to develop disease and may also lead to weight gain.

Simple change in our daily diet can go a long way in our quest for longevity and improving quality of life. It will also help manage symptoms of diseases one has already developed. Healthy eating involves replacing foods that contain trans fats, excess salt, and sugar with more nutritious options.

Stocking up on healthy snacks to keep the hunger pangs at bay is always a good idea. Instead of having sweets or salty snacks, one should opt for healthier options such as nuts, cheese, yoghurt (preferably unsweetened), chopped or dried fruit, boiled eggs, or other locally sourced healthy options.

We must ensure that our diet has adequate:

Carbohydrates : They help maximise the body’s ability to use glycogen to fuel short and high-intensity exercises. They are an ideal source of energy as they are readily converted into glucose.

Fat: Provides us with extra energy to fuel our body for longer exercise sessions. It insulates our bodies and also protects our vital organs.

Protein: It helps improve muscle-protein synthesis, prevent muscle damage, promote recovery and boost the immune system.

Vitamins and minerals: Vitamins and minerals are only needed in small quantities, but their role is essential for overall health and proper functioning of all body systems.

Stay active

Maintaining an active and disciplined lifestyle will help reduce our medical expenditures.A sedentary lifestyle is usually associated with an increased risk for chronic disease, loss of movement, and decreased immune health.

Even while confined to our homes, a person should devote 150 minutes to moderate-intensity exercise and 75 minutes to high-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both.

One should focus on:

1.Strength and core strength: This is the amount of force a muscle can produce against some form of resistance. Improving core strength can help improve balance and motion.

2. Aerobic capacity and endurance: This is the ability of our heart and lungs to get oxygen to our muscles. During aerobic activity, we repeatedly move large muscles in our arms, legs and hips. It leads to deep breathing and helps maximise the amount of oxygen in our blood. Our heart beats faster, which increases blood flow to our muscles.

3.Flexibility, mobility, and stability: Flexibility is the capacity to move through the our active and passive range of motion.

4. Balance and coordination: Balance is the ability to stay in control of your body’s movement and coordination is being able to move two or more body parts with measure

Stay hydrated

Good hydration means getting the right amount of water before, during, and after exercise. Water regulates our body temperature and lubricates our joints. It helps transport nutrients to give us the energy to keep healthy. If we are not hydrated, our body cannot perform at an optimal level. Plain water is any day better than sugar-sweetened beverages, which provide empty calories.

(The writer is a freelance contributor)

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