Exercise in Lockdown
Anna Langridge interviews Manoj Patel, Chartered Physiotherapist, MSc BSc (Hons) DiP MCSP RP and Founder of Urban Health & Fitness Clubs on the changing perceptions of exercise as preventive healthcare during Covid-19.
What evidence is there that exercise can reduce the risk of contracting Covid-19 and the severity of how badly you contract it?
It is likely that the evidence at this stage is limited due to the length of time the virus has been around and therefore harder to see what impact it will have in the future. Particular risk factors such as ethnicity, weight and particular health conditions, such as diabetes have shown to be strong indicators of contracting the disease. Exercise protects us from many known health diseases, so it would seem logical that staying active and to keep exercising may create some preventive function and it may also give you the resilience if infected to recover more effectively.
How many times per week should you exercise to make a significant difference to your health?
Government guidelines recommend 150 minutes of physical activity per week. This is largely based on a lot of research in the field of preventative medicine.
By moving more, you still activate the same physiological, physical and psychological benefits on your body that exercise brings. You can do this by gardening, walking, cycling, running, housework, painting and decorating or whatever makes you move more. Moving more can also create a greater sense of enjoyment and self fulfillment; the act of gardening can give you health benefits from doing it but also pleasure in what you have created. Measure how much you move, aim for 10,000 steps per day or simply record how long you have been doing an activity.
How do you think peoples’ exercise habits have changed since lockdown?
Prior to lock down, many people were busy juggling work, home and their social life and simply allocating set time to exercise because they felt they had to. During lockdown many people have had to adapt to exercising at home via virtual training or exercising more outside. Hopefully many people have felt the benefit and can transition some elements into their lives for the longer term.
I hope that many people have taken the time to self reflect during this lock down period and appreciated how important their health is. Many people forget to take the five minutes to stop and get the sense of how they feel after they have exercised. Most exercise should make you feel more alert, happy and give you more energy.
What exercise can ‘high risk’ people do if they are not allowed outside their homes?
Depending on your underlying health condition it will determine how much and what you can do. If unsure, many health professionals in the NHS and private sector have the necessary skills to work with a wide variety of conditions. Many of these providers now provide telephone and virtual appointments and have access to a range of tools that can help you exercise safely and effectively within your homes.
Gyms are due to open early July. Will it be safe to return?
All gyms will want to ensure that they create safe environments for people to return back to safeguard their members, staff and local community. In our own facilities for example, we have liaised with the fitness governing body and government guidelines to create our own 26 point risk assessment for when people start coming back. This includes managing our group exercise sessions, the flow of people into the clubs, hygiene and cleaning procedures plus a whole raft of safety measures that go above and beyond what is recommended by government guidance.
Is fitness now being perceived as the most important element of wellbeing?
Fitness is now becoming a bigger part of a more holistic sense of wellbeing where people have found a greater appreciation for simpler activities in life such as walking or cycling.
The Fitness Industry have long known the extent health and fitness has on wider society such as the money saved to the NHS by keeping people away from the doctors or the money saved by our impact on mental health services to local authorities.