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With Lockdown limitations placed on all movement of South African citizens, it’s important to remember why it’s important to still remain as active as possible within the space you have available. Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have access to a huge garden, a spinning bike or a treadmill. There are many…MANY exercise videos, ideas, blogs and posts swarming the internet at the moment, and it’s not difficult to get the guidance, inspiration and support you are looking for.

But what about those of us who didn’t really compete in multiple sporting events and go for regular early morning jogs?

It may not even feature on your radar but exercise is still very important. I know it sounds cliché, but being restricted by the lockdown means that our normal everyday movements have also been limited. You therefor have to put in a little more effort to reach the average 3000 – 5000 steps you would’ve taken on any other “normal” day.
The steps that took you to the car in the morning and the afternoon, the steps that took you to your office, the steps you took to the coffee machine every so often during the workday, steps outside or to the balcony to chat with colleagues, even the steps that took you to the office bathroom…the one that was definitely farther away than the one in your house!

The human body was designed to move but our lifestyles have become increasingly sedentary, with the aid of technology we tend to spend more and more time in a stationary, usually sitting, position for extended periods of the day. This leads to several physiological problems, to name a few:

• Decreased lung capacity and shallow breathing as a result of not using all our breathing muscles
• Swollen ankles as a result of decreased lymphatic flow and venous return
• Stiff joints and shortened muscles
• Decreased fitness levels and poor cardiovascular capacity
• Incorrect postures as a result of poor ergonomics, ultimately resulting in headaches and low back pain

As we anxiously await the end of the pandemic and the lockdown that goes along with it, we have been forced to adapt our lifestyles and several people have set up offices at home from where they can work remotely. We cannot predict for how long this will remain the norm, so it’s vital that we ensure we keep our bodies safe.

5 Things you can do to keep your body healthy during lockdown

1. Invest in Ergonomics
A proper ergonomic setup is crucial to achieve a harmony of comfort and productivity. Investing in an ergonomic office chair and/or standing desk is a great way to prevent injury and increase productivity.
Check out the awesome products available from Ergotherapy, designed by physios and medically endorsed, these solutions truly are an investment in your health. You don’t need a referral to get your hands on their awesome products, but be sure to mention our name on the purchase form so they can see we also endorse their products.

2. Step it up
Set yourself a step goal to achieve every day. Even if you don’t own a fancy pedometer or fitness watch, you can still monitor your steps with your mobile phone. Many of the new phones these days even have standard health apps pre-installed on them, that feature a pedometer or step counter. If not, there are several step counter apps available for free from the Google and Apple App stores for you to download. Aim for at least 5000 steps every day!

3. Stretch regularly
Spending time daily on proper stretching can prevent stiff muscles from going into a spasm and spiralling into a picture of pain and dysfunction. Doing activities like Yoga is great for this as it doesn’t require any specialised equipment and also serves as a means of relaxation. If, however you don’t picture yourself in a pretzel-like position, a simple stretching regime will benefit you just as much. Just remember to always warmup the muscles before you stretch them…take a shower, go for a walk through the house or cuddle with a hotpack. Focus on neck, shoulder and back stretches, as these are the areas that tend to stiffen up the most.

4. Suck it up!

Deep breathing is something that is very often forgotten, yet plays a huge role in our general wellbeing. Make sure you stop and take a few deep breaths every now and then, throughout the day. Use your diaphragm and breath with your belly…every time you breath in feel your stomach bulge out and as you exhale see your stomach flatten again. Check yourself by looking for this rise and fall of your stomach when you breath to ensure you breath with as much of your lungs as possible.

5. Train your brain
All things physical apart, we cannot function if our brains are not fit. With so much time being spent on social media platforms and in front of television screens, it has become very important to regulate what we watch and how much of it. Make a deliberate effort to put your phone down, switch your TV off and do something that gets you thinking. Play sudoku, do a crossword, play a memory game, bring out the boardgames! The psychological effects of prolonged screentime have been proven time and again, anxiety and depression being some of the big issues arising from it. With lockdown limitations wreaking its own psychological havoc we need to do our part to stay mentally healthy as well.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

So, chin up, this too shall pass. Let’s make the best of what we can and ensure that one day we will be able to look back at these times…and not suffer from such a sore back and stiff neck that we cannot turn around!

Keep safe!

Emrie van Tonder Physiotherapy