Exercise Right for Better Immunity

Lockdown 5.0 – a partial lockdown? Workspaces are open while the metro rail is not. The shops are open but gyms are not. Wait…no gyms…that means I still can’t get into my fittest shape. AAH!

Let’s calm down, everyone. There are several messages being shared socially, about how fitness freaks miss going to their gym or studio or not being able to stick to their usual routines (I have a friend who still works out for an hour everyday, but has visibly lost muscle as he isn’t lifting very heavy right now). They claim they ‘made do’ with home workouts and other activities such as walking, running, etc…

…which is all you need for Lockdown 5.0. You can still maintain your fitness and immunity levels. With the added benefit of not getting exposed to, or passing on, risk for infection. And…hold your breath…you can STILL take bathroom/livingroom/wherever-you-flex-room selfies and post on Instagram (what are they called, ‘fitfies’?)

Myfitgene - Fitness Genetic Test

It’s long past the time when we focus on just aesthetics. Fitness needs to go hand in hand with a host of other parameters such as gut health, mental health, etc. You could be exercising every day, but if you struggle to perform regular daily activities, bounce around the day with constant energy and vitality….you’re not doing it right. Now, more than ever, when our immune system is our biggest champion, our best bet against the nasty virus, it is essential to get a holistic mindset about keeping your body healthy. Healthy doesn’t mean ripped. Healthy doesn’t necessarily mean lean. 

I am going to use the currently popular cliche – strong is the new skinny

You don’t have to believe me. But believe in science. For optimal immunity, we need medium-impact exercises performed consistently – which means regular physical activity every day.

Right now, daily routines are slowly getting back to normal, be it at home or in the office, for some. So here’s a list of things you can do every day, lockdown or no lockdown:

  1. Start moving early. As early as when you first get out of the bed in the morning. Doing simple exercises such as breathing exercises, neck rotations, shoulder and arm circles, stretches for your back and legs, etc., can ‘wake’ up your muscles, get rid of stiffness in the joints and prepare you for the day ahead. If you feel up to it, add mini routines like 5 squats today, 5 sun salutations the next day and so on.
  2. Take the stairs. Not only will you avoid getting into a closed space (it is difficult to physically distance yourself in the lift), your body will thank you for it, too. It’s important to keep your back straight when climbing stairs. You should also engage your butt muscles to avoid straining your knees or lower back.
    Stair-climbing is quite good for you. Again, believe in science.
  3. Work out smarter, not harder. While it’s great to push yourself and engage in difficult workouts, intense exercising or extreme routines can actually be counterproductive for building immunity. Fitness levels and response to exercise varies from person to person. Listen to your body to identify your personal limits. Stick to workouts which end in you being sweaty, yet energized, most days of the week. Save the i-cannot-move-anymore-i-am-dead workouts for just once or twice a week. Medium level exercise consistently done over a period of time can optimise your body for fighting off the virus.
    Time to listen to science, now. Aerobic exercise (activities such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc) produces an important antioxidant and is beneficial for improving heart and lung function. So get your heart rate pumping for a good immunity boost!
  4. Tag, You’re It! Get people involved. When you are not posting pictures of your latest home-cooked meal on social media, participate in or start a community/group challenge. It can be as simple as taking 1000 additional steps a day, or as advanced as breaking a personal record. But make sure that your workout buddies and you keep each other motivated. This brings in accountability and better results.
  5. Flexibility in routines – and not just your muscles. You could still be working from home, with limited house help, or back in the workplace, with a long commute. Be open to working out at different times of the day. You could also get in mini workouts scattered throughout the day, instead of one long hour exercising. So while you attend to your daily tasks as usual, keep looking for that window of opportunity when you can squeeze in some exercises.
    For example-
    15 minutes of yoga first thing in the morning
    25 minute walk in the evening or 15 minutes of weight training
    5 minutes of stretches before hitting the sack.

Also Read : N.E.A.T to learn how to keep active throughout the day.

Wait, we are not done yet. Beyond a point, you need to chuck the weighing scale obsession. If you know you have been exercising regularly and eating clean for weeks, all you have to do to stick to the same for a longer time. The excess fat will melt away, stronger muscles will develop and those fitfies will show your work. A weight check can be done as little as 2-3 times a month.

Stay safe, stay fit and stay healthy!
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About the Author

Rasika is the product specialist and scientific liaison for Mapmygenome’s personal genomics portfolio. With 9+ years of experience in sequencing, molecular biology, genetic data analysis and reporting, she currently works in the product team at Mapmygenome. Her key responsibilities include genomics product development, data curation, scientific content creation and management, data analysis and technical support for business development. Her key strength is a robust understanding of consumer genomics, including specialized areas such as pharmacogenomics, nutrigenomics and sports genomics. Rasika is also a certified group fitness trainer and Pilates (Balanced Body) Mat instructor. 

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