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Watching the world we live in evolve and adapt with the ever-changing COVID-19 situation has been both scary and intriguing. As we continue to gain more insight, guidelines and recommendations will also continue to change. With so many moving parts, it may be hard to keep up with these changes, but there are a few things that have remained rather constant from the start of the coronavirus pandemic; maintaining a high level of self-awareness, good hygiene, and practicing social distancing.
Although these constants make sense, it is worth delving into the wisdom behind them so that we can collectively ensure we are doing our part to remain healthy, and to mitigate spread and infection.
Self-Awareness is Key
Let’s start with the prerequisite for all things related to this issue: self-awareness. The more we are in tune with our actions, symptoms, surroundings, and the people in our immediate space, the more we become empowered to act in accordance with the best practices and guidelines. We have all heard of not touching our face, and for some, that can be difficult. The act of being self-aware makes one inclined to make adjustments that would otherwise remain unchanged. But there is a hidden benefit to becoming more self-aware. Self-awareness is the prerequisite for improving many aspects of your health, including focus, stress mediation, and sleep hygiene. Simply put, just being more in tune with the various aspects of your daily practices will inherently improve your life. I will discuss how to increase your self-awareness skills shortly.
Good hygiene is a given right now. Although this primarily means handwashing, decontaminating surfaces, frequent changing of clothing after being in public, etc., I would like to add that good hygiene does include other important aspects that extend beyond the physical. Let me gently suggest that with more social distancing, closed schools, and working from home, our mental hygiene is bound to shift for better or for worse. These new changes may impart, whether we feel it or not, a new life stress. Stressors require both awareness and, in most instances, modifications in our actions to help offset them.
To help tie all this together, it is important that our collective health and immunity improve, and that starts with each individual doing his or her part.
Exercise Improves Physical and Mental Health
With gyms closed and many Americans being overweight and sedentary, being diligent about activity and exercise is paramount. Exercise is a great way to improve overall health and wellbeing. After all, have you ever heard of health advice that doesn’t include some form of physical exercise?
During this pandemic, those with “strong” immune systems have shown the best virus-related outcomes. With many municipalities restricting gatherings, some people have basically committed to isolation in the literal sense. It is important to note that there are reasonable allowances which include exercise and there is wisdom in this logic. Exercise improves cardiovascular health, moderates our balance with respect to weight and calories, and adds the benefit of pulmonary effort. The benefits may not seem so obvious to many, but even a 10-minute brisk walk daily can improve both physical and mental health. Just give it a try and you will feel the positive effects.
As a podiatric surgeon, I am frequently asked about what types of exercises and sports are best for different age groups, as well as for those with certain health problems such as patients with diabetes, neuropathy, and those with peripheral arterial disease. COVID-19 poses an interesting perspective on overall wellbeing, health maintenance strategies, and how to optimize our physical condition while being socially responsible. To be compliant with current guidelines, wearing a mask and being outdoors does not pose any problems. If anything, for those with seasonal allergies, a face mask will greatly decrease dust and pollen related exposure. That being said, it is important to stay active within the confines of your personal limitations.
At this time, it is more important to promote self-awareness, hygiene, and continue to respect social distancing. Exercise, in addition to its obvious benefits, can also be a good time to self-reflect, be self-aware, and if you are so inclined, engage in something new. Whether it's a walk, jog, hike, bike ride, game of outdoor tennis, or just shooting hoops alone, being active is more important now than ever before. My advice is to simply get up and pick an activity that you can easily partake in. It is more important to commit to being active than to sit and contemplate on what to do.
We’re All In This Together
Share your thoughts on how you are being active and encourage those around you. For those who are limited because of mobility issues, it is still a good practice to get some fresh air, even if that means simply opening a window and doing some good breathing exercises. Overall, the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, and will continue to teach us, many lessons. Perhaps, we can embrace our condition, and make the best of it in a simple and beneficial way.