Friday, May 14, 2021 | Shawwal 1, 1442 H
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Exercise and Eating to Stay Healthy During Covid-19


So, you cannot go anywhere, see anyone, socialise with your friends, meet at the coffee shop, meet at the shopping mall, your social life has... to all intent and purpose, died, over the thirteen months of pandemic restrictions.

Maybe you have become a culinary adventurer? Or taken up painting, sketching, pottery, or photography? I guess you have watched every movie on Netflix, caught up with all the mini-series you ever thought about watching, and a few you never did. Or maybe you have just been overindulging in those snacks in front of the TV? In any case, hardly any of us have failed to stack on a few kgs, so maybe we should focus on our health?

How many of us have made the perennial promise to ourselves to start afresh every new year? Then a week later all those good intentions have gone completely out the window. More to the point, how many of us have thrown in the towel, declaring with exasperating deliberation that, “I’ll start again next week, or next month, or next year.” Well?

Here is an opportunity to look at positive lifestyle, health and wellness changes while we feel intimidated by what is going on around us. We know we should exercise, and set out with enthusiasm, only to find out later that we have “no time,” or “no energy,” to keep at it. Guilt then nails us, and we seek comfort in chocolate.

Walking is still the best, cheapest, and least stressful alternative, just mask and social distance. Even, as I have at times, walk around the house fifty or a hundred times. Put on some earphones, music, an audiobook, or the Quran... it’s a breeze. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is done in short bursts and requires nothing more than your time. Both lead to increased fitness, decreased weight, and you feel better about yourself.

The media is saturated (pardon the pun) with celebrity-endorsed diets, but why not go DIY and check out the internet for a regime you can handle? Be pragmatic though, as we tend to make ‘foodie’ promises to ourselves that we cannot maintain. Aim for gradual lifestyle changes which are personalised, practical, and will comfortably define our healthy eating habits for, not days, weeks, or months, but years to come.

Subtle changes can be integrated into your everyday life in a seamless manner, or you can seek professional advice in case of more drastic options as there may be specific physiological requirements your body has, which you are not aware of. Issues such as unstable iron or sugar levels may have unwelcome consequences.

Sugar, salt, and ‘bad’ cholesterol levels deserve close attention, because we must be vigilant about the additives and unhealthy fats we consume, as these may affect our physical or mental wellbeing. Awareness of these issues may not lead to overnight changes, but we should all be fully aware of our body’s wellness and health parameters. We should understand our individual physiologies and physical capabilities.

Finally, look after your back! Do not underestimate how acute and chronic back pain can adversely affect your entire life. Simple, basic things like getting into and out of bed properly, bending your legs, and not your back when you pick things up, and lifting things (or trying to) that are too heavy for you. Most simply, do not bend down to put shoes on, but pick your feet up, and then put your shoes on.

Don’t for a minute think I’m a good role model, as I am more of a “do as I say,” kind of guy than a “do as I do” type, and I’m not demanding you give up chocolate, ice-cream, movies or mini-series, but as in all things... moderation rules!

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