Physical activity during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has called for lockdowns in most countries. As such, physical activity has been significantly impacted during this time. The closure of gyms and prohibition of recreational activities have led to changes in overall physical activity for better or worse.
Walking to improve health
Walking is a moderate physical activity that effectively lowers blood pressure, with greater effects in individuals with high blood pressure. Other health benefits of walking include improved fitness, body composition and lipid profiles. Daily walking also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular events in the long run. Muscle and bone strength can be improved through walking, which reduces the risk of falls and fractures. In addition, walking helps to reduce stress, enhances positive emotions and improves performance.
The benefits of walking more steps
Recent data has shown that walking an additional 1000 steps each day helps to reduce the risk of death and cardiovascular diseases. An increase in daily step counts has been associated with a reduced risk of all-cause death. Individuals with greater step counts demonstrated a significantly lower risk of all-cause death compared to those with fewer step counts. Studies have also shown that walking more steps daily significantly improves sleep quality, helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, and improves mental health.
What is the recommended amount of physical activity?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, and at least 2 days a week of muscle-strengthening activity. Moderate-intensity aerobic activity includes cycling, swimming, walking a pet, and anything that gets the heart beating faster. Muscle-strengthening activity includes lifting weights or doing push ups.
Evidence has found that a continuous walking session of 30 minutes resulted in better health benefits and adherence than accumulated short walks. A greater number of individuals who walked continuously (67%) achieved the recommended heart rate range (60 – 70% heart rate reserve) compared with those who took short walks (38%). This suggests that walking continuously for 30 minutes provides greater health benefits and improves adherence in physical activity compared with accumulated short walks.
Staying active while staying at home
Finding time to exercise may be difficult for individuals with busy schedules. In this case, small amounts of walking every day is better than none at all. Walking is an easy way to improve physical activity in previously inactive individuals with little risk of injury, regardless of age.
There are many ways to stay physically active at home during COVID-19.
Some ideas to incorporate walking as a daily exercise while staying at home during this COVID-19 pandemic:
Walking is an easy, simple and cost-effective form of exercise that poses little risk and does not require special skills or training. Taking more steps in our daily routine can go a long way in maintaining and improving our health.
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