The pandemic has affected every aspect of our life, most of all our health. We are unable to go to the gym, or meet up with friends and family. Many of us are working from home and spend hours in front of a computer with very little physical activity. And in my case, the proximity of my desk to the kitchen has prompted way too many snack breaks! For many of us this has resulted in weight gain, reduced physical activity levels, increased stress levels and even isolation and depression.
With February being heart month, I would like to share some healthy living tips that promote not only heart health, but also overall well being and good health. Pandemic related restrictions have made it difficult for us to engage in traditional ways of healthy living, so let's get creative and find alternative ways to stay healthy.
1. Stay connected
Our mental health is as important as our physical health if not more. Not being able to interact with friends, family and coworkers has led to social isolation and depression in many people. Schedule time to make phone calls or organize virtual meetings with friends and family. Play online games with loved ones. Have dinner during virtual meetings with loved ones. If your loved ones live within drivable distance, drive over to them and see each other through a window while talking over the phone. Always take social distancing measures, but make an effort to stay connected!
2. Eat healthy
A balanced diet lowers heart disease and stroke risk by improving cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, helping manage body weight and controlling blood sugar. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein-rich foods. Limit foods and beverages high in calories, sugar, salt and other additives. Schedule regular meal times and stick to them. Try to avoid snack breaks in between meals. It helps to have a bowl of nuts or some fruit instead of junk food to satiate those cravings between meals.
Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. Many studies support the theory that drinking water is beneficial for weight loss. Also, hydration is key for many factors that play a role in weight loss, including digestion and muscle function.
3. Manage your stress
Reduce and manage your stress with relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga, and limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Schedule time for exercise and hobbies, and spend time with loved ones. Try to get enough sleep. If you think things are getting out of hand, seek professional help and talk to your doctor about it.
Adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. The activity doesn't have to be non-stop. You can do 10 minutes or more at a time throughout the day to reach your daily total.
The pandemic restrictions have made it difficult for many of us to go to the gym, go swimming or attend fitness classes. But you don't have to go to a gym to exercise, you can do it at home too. There are a number of tv shows, free online videos and apps that can help you meet your exercise goals at home, without any exercise equipment. If you want to make it more fun, ask a friend to join you virtually and exercise together.
5. Seek help
If you experience any abnormal symptoms or changes in your health, talk to your doctor and seek medical attention. If you have trouble managing stress or are feeling lonely, tell your doctor and take advantage of mental health care resources. Reach out to family and friends if you need help with things around the house or just need to talk to someone.
Here are some helpful resources if you want to:
- eat healthy https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/
- get help with problematic substance use https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/substance-use/get-help/get-help-problematic-substance-use.html
- find mental health support https://www.ontario.ca/page/find-mental-health-support
These are just some of the things we can do to adapt to living in these unprecedented times. I can imagine how challenging it can be to maintain a healthy lifestyle while following pandemic restrictions. At in4MED, we can make this stressful time easier by providing you with information and resources, connecting you to local support systems and being there for you as your trusted health advocates. As always, feel free to connect with me or leave a comment.
Healthcare Consultant, in4MED
Heart and Stroke Foundation - Coronavirus, heart disease and stroke https://www.heartandstroke.ca/articles/coronavirus-heart-disease-and-stroke
Heart and Stroke Foundation - Healthy eating basics https://www.heartandstroke.ca/healthy-living/healthy-eating/healthy-eating-basics
Heart and Stroke Foundation - Reduce stress https://www.heartandstroke.ca/healthy-living/reduce-stress
MedicalNewsToday - Can water help you lose weight? https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322296
CDC - How much physical activity do adults need?
The author of this blog post is a Physician with over 10 years of experience working in the healthcare system as a clinician, researcher and educator. She is passionate about healthcare for older adults and strives to be a resourceful inspiration to caregivers.
*No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professional.