WHO encourages public to stay active even while cooped up at home during lockdown


Posted at Apr 01 2020 07:53 PM

MANILA -- Staying active even while on home quarantine is important in improving the physical and mental health of a person, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, when so many of us are very restricted in our movements, it is even more important for people of all ages and abilities to be as active as possible. Even a short break from sitting, by doing 3-5 minutes of physical movement, such as walking or stretching, will help ease muscle strain, relieve mental tension and improve blood circulation and muscle activity. Regular physical activity can also help to give the day a routine and be a way of staying in contact with family and friends,” the WHO said in its Q&A Be Active During COVID-19 post on its website. 

WHO explained that physical activity doesn’t have to be exercise or sports. It can also be in the form of house cleaning, gardening and other activities that lets you move around.

Regular physical activities have a lot of health benefits as it reduces blood pressure, manages weight, and lessens risks of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, the WHO said. It also improves mental health and can reduce the risk of depression, cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

“For older people, activities that improve balance help to prevent falls and injuries. For children, regular physical activity helps support healthy growth and development and reduce the risk of disease in later life, and through regular activity, children can develop fundamental movement skills and build social relationships,” it added.

But how much physical activity is recommended? 

WHO recommends that infants under the age of 1 need to be physically active several times a day. Children under the age of 5 should spend 180 minutes a day in physical activities. Children aged 5 to 17 need to do moderate to vigorously intense physical activity for 60 minutes, at least 3 times a week.

WHO recommends adults aged over 18 years a total of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity throughout the week, including muscle-strengthening activities 2 or more days per week.

It added that older adults with poor mobility should do physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.

“But any physical activity is better than none. Start with small amounts and gradually increase duration, frequency and intensity over time,” the WHO said.

This is exactly what Grace, 50, is doing. With her family based in Cavite and the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon prevents her from visiting other siblings in Quezon City and Marikina City, they decided to start “piso kada jumping jack” game on their family Facebook group to basically entice everyone to keep moving.

Employees working-from-home are also advised to take a 3 to 5 minute breaks every 20 to 30 minutes just to reduce the long periods of sitting down. It is also advisable to set up a regular routine every day.

For parents with children, being unable to literally go out and play can be a bit difficult for the young ones.

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Patricia Olabre also makes sure that her 9-year old daughter joins online classes while on home quarantine. Photo courtesy of Patricia Olabre

Yoga teacher Patricia Olabre said there are a lot of free online classes that parents can use to make the home quarantine period productive for the kids.

Her 9-year old daughter has regular physical education and dance classes online. As for her, she makes it a point to squeeze in a little “me-time” by practicing yoga.

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Patricia Olabre practices yoga with her flatmate during the enhance community quarantine in Luzon. Photo courtesy of Patricia Olabre

The Philippine Education Theater Association (PETA) has started offering free online classes until April 3 at 3 to 4 to p.m. on their Facebook page. Classes include DIY crafting and storytelling techniques among others.

In the end, the WHO stressed that it is important to stay safe while exercising or doing physical activities at home. 

“Do not exercise if you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing,” it stated. It is also advisable to do slow and low-intensity activities first for people who are not regularly active.

“Choose the right activity so that you reduce the risk of injury and that you enjoy the activity,” it said.