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CovidFit Exercise Campaign

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By GHA Physiotherapy department and Health Promotion

During this Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have been restricted in our movements, which makes it difficult to maintain the same level of activity. The GHA physiotherapy and occupational therapy teams have lent their expertise to the latest CovidFit campaign:

Be CovidFit - Be a CHAMP Family

The campaign aims to address the various concerns across the age spectrum; drawing on principles of the CHAMP initiative which focus primarily on children, using a multi-agency platform. This aspect of the CovidFit series will take into account all family members, encouraging activity and fitness that can be completed individually or as a family unit.

Whilst experiencing prolonged periods of lockdown or home isolation, we are likely to see:

Low motivation and energy, often on par with low mood, correlating directly with reduced exercise/ activity levels

Reduced muscle strength in both upper limb and lower limbs; this is evident when experiencing weakness of the legs and/or reduced hand grip strength

More trips, falls, or near misses, which indicate balance impairment

A reduced ability to carry out independent activities in daily life, for example shopping, dressing/ bathing as part of a routine, transferring from place to place (from bed to chair, room to room etc.).

Reduced Vitamin D levels that result from staying indoors, which has implications for bone health (contributing to osteomalacia and osteoporosis)

In order to address these potential issues, we are highlighting two key areas for consideration:

1. Safety and

2. Physical Activity.

Safety

In order to exercise safely it is necessary to maintain a suitable environment. When exercising at home this will mean:

Warming up your body before any physical activity (with stretching activities) and cooling it down after a workout or exercise, to prevent potential injuries.

C:\Users\emily.ward\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.MSO\DE9BFD1E.tmpEliminating any trip hazards such as unsuitable footwear, long/trailing clothes, and removing rugs, mats, or clutter. To prevent falls, it is also a good idea to avoid stepping up onto stools or pieces of furniture; you can read more on the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy website.

Opening the curtains fully and allowing the opportunity to access natural light; perhaps on the balcony or in your garden (if available). If you are concerned about your Vitamin D levels, contact your GP/ healthcare professional.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day to remain hydrated, and increasing your uptake during any vigorous activity. Remember, if you feel thirsty your body is already dehydrated!

Not exercising if you have a fever, cough, difficulty breathing or any other COVID-19 symptoms; rest, call 111, and follow the health care advice.

When exercising outside ensure you will also need to:

maintain physical distancing, at least 2 metres (3 steps) between yourself and others; this is particularly important if you should run into someone you know from another household.

wash your hands with soap and water before you leave your house, when you get to where you are going, and as soon as you return.  If water and soap are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub (70% minimum).

Consider the use of walking aids, if required, or other tools/ equipment. The GHA team provide assessments and equipment for various patient groups including those with MS, Parkinson’s, palliative care patients and those recently discharge from hospital (depending on the diagnosis). If you would like to know more about equipment email the contact below.

Physical Activity

Physical activity includes all forms of movement, it does not necessarily mean exercise or participating in a sport; play, dance, house cleaning and even carrying heavy shopping are all ways to keep physically active. In order to maintain a healthy body, we all require regular activity. Even a short break from sitting, by doing 5 minutes of physical movement (such as walking or stretching) will ease muscle strain, relieve mental tension and improve blood circulation.

You should:

aim for 30 minutes of vigorous activity a day, where you feel slightly out of breath but still able to hold a conversation. [Note, recommendation for children is 1 hour]. As your fitness increases, you will find that you have to work harder to become out of breath and this in turn will increase your fitness level.

C:\Users\emily.ward\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.MSO\149A46DC.tmpWarm up before starting any set activities or exercise programs, then gradually ease your body in through the first few minutes. 

Try to find activities that you enjoy, and take part with other people to keep up motivation. Grandparents can exercise with grandchildren over Whatsapp/ Facetime to make activities more interactive and fun.

Build regular physical activity into your daily routine.

Make use of online exercise videos. The community physiotherapy team have a series that are around 20 minutes’ duration and are suitable for all skill levels.

For more information, see: www.CovidFit.gi
To find out more regarding equipment and assessments email the Physiotherapy department: pccphysio@gha.gi

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