Over the last few months, millions of people all over the world have been advised to stay at home. With social distancing measures likely to be in place for some time, and many of us expecting to work from home for the foreseeable future, staying healthy at home has never been more important. Here are some tips and tricks to try today.
Exercise and fitness
Many people have jumped at the chance of having more time away from their desks and used it to increase their activity levels, but if you haven’t jumped on the home workout bandwagon yet, don’t worry. While working out in your garage might be an option, you don’t have to invest in treadmills or weights if you don’t live for going to the gym in ‘normal’ life. There are multiple ways you can get in shape and increase your activity levels without doing 100 press-ups a day or running laps around the garden. As gyms and fitness centres are closed, many have moved sessions online, and you can now tune into virtual classes and workouts. This is an excellent option for those who like to train solo and those who are relatively new to exercise. You can work out whenever you want to, and you don’t have to worry about what others will think. You can also find all kinds of workouts online, from yoga and outdoor circuits to HIIT (high-intensity interval training). If you’re struggling for time, HIIT is great because it burns a lot of calories in a short period.
Away from home gym sessions and virtual classes, there are myriad activities you can try if you’re keen to get out of the house and enjoy the open air. From family bike rides and nature walks to hiking and playing tennis and golf, it’s possible to work up a sweat in a safe environment without being confined to your home or garden.
Staying healthy at your desk
Working from home has become more popular in recent years, but nobody could have predicted that millions of people would be forced to relocate to their spare room, study or dining table for a period of months in 2020. If you are working at home, it’s important to prioritise your health. One of the most important things is your posture. Poor posture is a risk factor for back pain, the most common work-related illness in the UK. When you’re sitting at a desk or at your kitchen table, your spine should be straight, your shoulders should be relaxed, and you should be able to reach the keyboard without stretching. The monitor should be level with your eye line and ideally, you should be using a comfortable chair, which offers support for your back.
During your working day, take regular breaks to rest your eyes. Staring at a screen can contribute to eye strain, especially if you are struggling to read. Many laptops now come with blue light filters, which reduce the risk of eye strain, and you can also adjust the light settings to suit your needs. If you have noticed that you’re finding it difficult to read at close range or from a long distance, it’s important to arrange an eye test. If you’ve already been advised to wear glasses or contact lenses, make sure you wear them when needed. If you’re still struggling with your glasses, your prescription may have changed. If you need new eyewear, you can browse styles online and order new glasses or prescription sunglasses to be delivered to your door. It’s also beneficial to take breaks throughout the day to stretch your legs. Sitting down for prolonged periods of time can cause stiffness, and getting some fresh air can also lift your mood and boost energy levels.
Did you know that over 70% of UK households with children are eating more than usual during lockdown? Snacking has become the norm for many, which poses problems for dental and general health. Grazing throughout the day is likely to increase your calorie intake, which puts you at risk of weight gain, and it’s also harmful for your teeth and gums. When you eat, the bacteria in your mouth feed, and this causes them to release acids. These acids attack the tooth enamel, leaving it weak. It takes time for the enamel to recover, and the teeth can only withstand a limited number of acid attacks. Snacking means that your teeth cannot remineralise, and this exposes you to acid erosion, sensitivity and an increased risk of decay and gum disease.
Instead of snacking, stick to three main meals a day and drink plenty of water. If you get hungry between meals, avoid foods and drinks that are high in sugar or acidic. Healthy options include raw vegetable sticks, for example, carrots, celery and cucumber, whole grain crackers, sugar-free yoghurt and nuts. To avoid hunger pangs, include complex carbohydrates in your meals. This will help you feel fuller for longer. There are some fantastic recipe ideas available online, but a good place to start is a nutritious, hearty breakfast. Healthy options include porridge with honey or berries, low-sugar granola with natural yoghurt and fruit, wholemeal toast with scrambled, poached or boiled eggs, avocado on toast, wholegrain cereal and omelettes.
There is no doubt that the last few months have been trying for most people. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or anxious, it’s vital to take good care of your mental health. Talk about how you feel and try and avoid doing anything that is causing you to feel stressed. Many of us find ourselves glued to the headlines or constantly scrolling through social media, despite that fact that it is getting us down or making us feel nervous or uneasy. If you do want to keep up to date with what is going on, check the news using reputable sources once or twice a day and take time away from your phone or tablet. Get some fresh air, spend time with family and friends virtually and use any spare time you have to indulge hobbies and interests. Creative activities, for example, writing, drawing and painting, can be particularly beneficial for mental wellbeing, especially if you’ve got a lot on your mind, or you’re struggling to switch off.
Being at home has its perks, but there are also challenges. If you’re looking to stay healthy at home, it’s important to be active, to eat well, to make sure your workspace setup is suitable and to take good care of your mental health.