Sedentary lifestyles contribute to health issues amid pandemic

Staying Healthy: Gym employee and yoga professional Rohan Malhotra talks about the consequences of COVID-19 on physical health over a remote call and provides tips on how to stay healthy. (Photo by Raghvi Sharma/The Press)

Since the start of the pandemic, some have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle while being locked down at home, something which experts say has contributed to health problems.

The situation of the ongoing pandemic has, in some cases, made people lazier than ever before. With many restrictions in place, some of this is likely not by choice. The pandemic has contributed to an overall decline in physical and mental health overall.

A study by the Royal College of Physicians states that only 21 per cent of the total number of adults are seen meeting the required standard physical activity guidelines while only less than 5 per cent are involved in the daily exercise of 30 minutes under the harsh circumstances.

An article published by the International Journal of Mental Health Nursing states that “people with weight changes, poor sleep and, reduced physical activity compromised effective management of health and need assistance in addressing their physical health needs as they are more likely to become a victim of early death.”

The World Health Organizations reports that during the COVID-19 pandemic it has become even more important for people of all age groups and abilities to stay as active as possible. Playing, dancing, doing daily housework, like gardening or cleaning as it constitutes a part of being physically active and, even minimal sort of body movements can do good.

“A lot of people do not have the opportunity to continue workout at home since the gyms are closed for this long. A lot of my clients are really sad and having a hard time as their daily gym progresses has stopped – leading to a loss in body positivity, making them less confident, less strong mentally, resulting in lack of self-esteem,” said Mitchel Golbeck, a personal fitness trainer.

“With the gym [not] being opened people do not get motivation, instead [they] seek an excuse to remain restricted at their respective houses. People sit in front of computer screens for longer durations, eat in excess and are immobile,” he said.

According to a newsletter by Aaron Kandola for Medical News Today, “sedentary ways of living can lead to a wide range of chronic health disorders and other related conditions like obesity, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression, certain different types of cancer, cardiovascular disease causes eventually leading to early retardation of the body.”

Statistics Canada also reports that only one in five Canadian adults are meeting the required present level of physical activity that is, 150 minutes per week, and activity levels further tend to decline with increasing age. The lack of physical activity is evident during the lockdown.

“People, especially youth, have become less aware of their health and fitness and are not physically active, they even consider exercising, going to gym and yoga centres [as] unproductive and a waste of time,” said Rohan Malhotra, a gym employee.

“In this time of pandemic where everybody has to stay indoors as per safety reasons, various exercises can be done inside the house which includes: lunges, squats, planks and, burpees allowing an individual to remain fit overall. It is also advisable not to remain static instead be in a state of some sort of minimal motion to stay active and alert,” he said.

Golbeck suggests that in order to stay active indoor, people can do basic things at home like setting up small breaks and walking around the house, or around the block.

Harminder Gil, an IT professional, says that he gained a substantial amount of weight as a result of working from home during the pandemic. 

A lot of people do not have the opportunity to continue workout at home since the gyms are closed for this long. A lot of my clients are really sad and having a hard time as their daily gym progresses has stopped – leading to a loss in body positivity, making them less confident, less strong mentally, resulting in lack of self-esteem. – Mitchel Golbeck

“I decided to focus on my health, body weight and eating habits. I got a diet and exercise plan from a fitness expert and shifted to a keto diet involving just fruits, salad smoothies, hardcore work outs and power yoga. Without any doubt the journey was difficult but here I stand today lean and slim, therefore for me this lockdown was fruitful and gave me an inspiration to reshape my body structure,” said Gil.

To help eradicate this problem and for the betterment of one’s health, experts recommend remaining active. Even partaking in basic activities at home, like vacuuming or gardening, can help.

Alberta Health Services also recommends that parents encourage young children to play, dance and meditate daily as it plays a pivotal role in the maintenance of an overall balanced life.

About Raghvi Sharma 1 Article
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Raghvi Sharma is working as a writer for The Press during the 2021 academic year.