The world is currently going through a crisis that isn’t found in any text book. People are changing the way they live as they prepare for the outbreak to pass through their neighborhood. People are asked to distance themselves from others, stay home, and wash their hands more often. Schools, beaches, restaurants, airlines have either closed or limited their accommodations. Amid all the sanitation and social distancing guidelines for the Covid-19 virus, aka Coronavirus, here are five other things that you and your family can do to improve your protection from the virus. Practicing these things will also prepare you to live healthier once this all passes.
1. Limit Your Sitting Time
Now that you and your family are home all day, the activity that may enter your mind is to finally start the Game of Thrones series and binge watch until the virus disappears (which could happen with that series). However, much research has looked at the correlation between sedentary behavior and increased risk to health.1,2 The goal is to increase your immune system during this time and prevent the onset of co-morbidities like, heart, respiratory, or metabolic disease. There is growing evidence that the Coronavirus has a greater effect on those with co-morbidities. 3 Therefore, limit your sitting time to about 30 minutes at a time and do something more active, like going for a walk.
2. Take In Some Fresh Air with a Walk
Take 30 minutes and enjoy a walk with your family, dog, friend, or by yourself. As long as you’re staying within the guidelines of 6 feet apart and limiting your groups to 10 or less, being outside can be beneficial to your health as well as your psyche. Research indicates that just 30 minutes of walking a day can increase your immunity, even those in their sixties and older! 4,5
Along with an improved immune system, walking and other cardiovascular exercises have been shown to improve other health markers including respiratory and cardiac strength. Being outside can also help keep your mind off of the fears of the world. The freedom of the outdoors can provide solace if you begin to feel like a prisoner within your own home.
3. Take a Siesta
Sleep is a powerful tool for recovery and taking a nap can recharge the body and provide the needed physical and mental repair. Many people do not get the recommended hours of sleep per night. Think about how much sleep you had last night. The CDC recommends at least seven hours or more of sleep for adults (ages 18-60) and anywhere from seven to eight hours for teens (ages 13 – 18). 6 If you haven’t received enough sleep, the body’s defense system, aka immune system, may be weaker and slower to react when called upon. However, add a nap in the day and your body begins to recover quickly. The research showed that a 30 min nap the day after a night of little sleep, the immune parameters improved back to baseline measures. 7
4. Dish Up a Home Cooked Meal
Having restaurants shutdown in your neighborhood may actually be a blessing in disguise. Many restaurants serve up unnecessary additives like sodium and sugar. These hidden amounts can over time cause serious health risks like diabetes and heart disease. In addition, when you eat out, you might not consume enough micronutrients to support a healthy immune system. Five micronutrients that are essential to your immune system include magnesium, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin E. 8 Cooking a meal at home not only allows you to know exactly what is in your food, but it ensures that you’re not missing out on a critical nutrient. This would be a great time to dig out those cookbooks and enjoy cooking up a healthy, immune-boosting meal. Don’t own any cookbooks? Try out these delicious recipes that I enjoy, which are packed with nutrients ready to fight off any infection.
Chicken Broccoli Salad
Adjustments: Leave out sugar, add a 1/4 cup dried cranberries, add a 1/3 cup of diced sweet peppers
Adjustments: Add 1 can water chestnuts (optional)
5. Strike a Pose and Breathe
During this chaotic time, it may seem difficult to lower your stress. Disinfectant wipes and toilet paper are nowhere to be found, and you still have to hit your deadlines working out of your makeshift office from home. Panicking will not help you fight off this virus. Instead, take a few minutes to stop what you’re doing and try a yoga pose or breathing exercise. Concentrate on your breathing as you enter and hold the pose. Allow your stomach to expand with every inhale and feel the body ease out of the position with the exhale. Yoga and breathing exercises, such as meditation, are great tools to help ease the mind and relax the body. As a result, stress is reduced and the mind can focus clearer, which you probably want as you’re coming down to the final hours of work. You can try these yoga, guided meditation, or breathing exercise videos for free on YouTube.
The Coronavirus Apocalypse may be coming, but you now have the resources to survive through it. The human body is a phenomenal machine, and with the right steps to keep the immune system well maintained, your body will be prepared for any future health pandemic.
1. Owen, N, Healy, G, et al. (2010). Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior, Retrieved on March 18, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3404815/
2. Thosar, S. S., Bielko, S. L., Mather, K. J., Johnston, J. D., & Wallace, J. P. (2015). Effect of prolonged sitting and breaks in sitting time on endothelial function. Retrieved on March 18, 2020 from https://scholarworks.iupui.edu/handle/1805/7875
3. Begley, S (2020). Who is getting sick, and how sick? A breakdown of coronavirus risk by demographic factors. Retrieved on March 218, 2020 from https://www.statnews.com/2020/03/03/who-is-getting-sick-and-how-sick-a-breakdown-of-coronavirus-risk-by-demographic-factors/
4. Nieman D, Henson DA, Austin MD, Brown VA. (2005). Immune response to a 30-minute walk. Retrieved on March 18, 2020 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15632669
5. Kimura, F, Shimizu, K, Akama, T, et al. (2006). The Effects of Walking Exercise Training on Immune Response in Elderly Subjects. Retrieved on March 18, 2020 from https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/ijshs/4/Special_Issue_2_2006/4_Special_Issue_2_2006_508/_article/-char/ja/
6. Center for Disease Control. Are You Getting Enough Sleep? Retrieved on March 18, 2020 from https://www.cdc.gov/features/sleep/index.html
7. Faraut, B, Zouaoui Boudjeltia, K, Dyzm, M, et al. (2011). Benefits of napping and an extended duration of recovery sleep on alertness and immune cells after acute sleep restriction. Retrieved on March 18, 2020 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159110004265
8. Merz, B. (2016). Micronutrients have major impact on health: Foods to boost your immune system and increase vitamin and mineral intake. Retrieved on March 18, 2020 from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/micronutrients-have-major-impact-on-health