I hope this post finds you fit & healthy?
I’ve had many queries over the last 12 months relating to what people should be doing during this tough lockdown and so here is a little bit of general advice.
Many people are feeling more of a strain during this second lockdown, ourselves included and this is largely in part to the lack of outdoor activity and the good old english weather. The strain that this has placed on people mentally has been huge and has led to lot of demotivated people making even worse choices in the kitchen.
Of course, this is the time of year that many of us fall foul to bugs and illness but this year particularly, the risks has been heightened. Every year we can make a correlation at this time of year between the illness and the weather (obviously there are more bugs around), dietary changes (New Year crash diets), dehydration (we drink more tea & coffee & less water) and we also eat heavier & less nutritious meals. I believe that this is occurring as much this year as in any other year. 20 years ago my ideals on fitness were all about vanity, I just wanted to look as fit and healthy as possible, I wasn’t worried about how long I’d live in the slightest. Now however, as a 50 year old father (April 2021) to a 6 year old son, my outlook has flip flopped completely. I have a responsibility to him to be around for at least another 25 years and now, that is my focus. I don’t want to merely survive and scrape by for 25 years though, my intention is to keep attacking life and to push my body to serve me so that I’m still playing golf and retaining my athleticism for as long as possible.
Exercise is now a vital component to getting the most out of my body, the human skeleton is designed to last for 100 years and if you treat it well, it will. Sadly we live in the age where bodies are being burned out in 40 years sometimes through unfortunate instances but largely due to maltreatment. Exercise raises the bar for your immune system and research,(as well as my own experience of dealing with people who have battled serious illness), shows that fitter individuals have a better outlook when it comes to winning the battle over serious illnesses, including Corona Virus. Herein lies a major concern for me as prior to and during this lockdown many have succumbed to Christmas indulging in excessive food and alcohol and now crash diets have taken over again coupled with exercise and sport being limited due to the lockdown and the weather. There will have been a reduction in the fitness levels of many individuals out there.
It is critical now for all of us to do whatever we can to maintain our fitness levels even though the gyms are closed and tennis & golf are off the agenda. In these times, something is better than nothing!
Why is exercise so important?
Well exercise is known to elevate Superoxide Dismutase within our bodies, this is an anti oxidant that is secreted from our muscles during exercise and it binds to vital organs to be used to fend off attacks from free radicals that try to bring us down with illness. Its production is elevated during cardio exercise. Strength training is also vital, more so when we hit forty, muscle mass is linked to longer life expectation, particularly with patients being treated for cancer and other serious chronic illnesses. Foods rich in S.O.D include Broccoli and Cabbage. In Corona Virus times, it is worth noting that low levels of SOD have been linked to lung diseases.
So in the bleak midwinter under a national lockdown here is some general advice to stay mentally and physically active while your immune system remains fighting fit:
Firstly, train smart, remember something is better than nothing and we can all get out to walk even if it is cold. 30 minutes of moderately intense cardio such as pace walking will do the trick. For the more accomplished, interval cardio will help to ramp up your immune system, examples of this The Titleist Performance 30 second sprint followed by a 4 minute recovery x5 preceded by a warm up and followed by cool down or the 20 second sprint, 10 second rest x8 Tabata protocol.
Secondly, make strength your focus, preservation of muscle mass is vital as we age and in these times, strength training seriously reduces the hormone cortisol that is responsible for stress. Sure we all prefer the gym. I, like many of my friends are fortunate enough to have their own training facility now and even if you don’t, find a room, use the garage or wrap up and get outside, remember something is better than nothing. You don’t need machines either, bodyweight, resistance bands and free weights are better for you anyway. You can mix your training up, start with mobility and higher reps if you don’t have weight available, when the gyms finally open, you will feel better for it and also be in better shape for golf and tennis!
And finally, do your own rehab, mobility, flexibility and stability are the biggest drain of strength in my clients and we place that on ourselves with poor posture and a lack of activity. Get your roller out, stretch and mobilise to reduce those self imposed restrictions that sitting, sleeping and poor posture have placed upon your muscles that then start impinging your skeleton. Yoga poses are also excellent for reducing stress, inflammation and immobility so get up and do what you can, today!
If anyone finds themselves struggling or needs further advice, feel free to get in touch for a chat. I’m also still available for outdoor or virtual PT.
Take care and keep going, hopefully this will all be over soon.