Physiotherapists are celebrating Movement for Good Health NOW instead of on 10 May 2020, saying South Africans in lockdown must keep moving for healthy immune systems
One of our best defences against pandemics like COVID-19 is to keep our bodies as healthy as possible.
Critical to a good immune system that can fight off disease is exercise – not just gym or soccer or running, but regular movement, throughout the day. “Our bodies evolved to move all the time, not just in short bursts of strenuous activity,” says Rogier van Bever Donker. “Our ancestors used different muscle groups in constant activity, whether milking cows or ploughing fields or scrubbing clothes on a washboard.”
We need regular movement to keep our lymphatic system working. A bit like our blood circulation system, the lymphatic system is a network that moves a clear fluid called lymph around our bodies, which is especially important to our immune system. But unlike our veins and arteries, the lymphatic system does not have a pump – it’s dependent on us moving to keep the lymph going. Our muscles are the pump for this crucial defence against infection!
In addition, remember that many diseases, including COVID-19, attack the lungs – and people who move a lot every day, who use their muscles, have better lung function.
So, any way of boosting your level of movement is helpful and improves your resilience. Those who exercise, who move more, have a reduced risk of illness.
Even small increases in light-intensity physical activity can reduce your risk of poor health, scientists have found – if you add as little as 30 minutes a day, broken up into chunks of ten minutes or even less at a time, if you like.
But how do you get more movement in your own home, in a confined space? You can move – even while lying in bed! Some of our suggestions:
- Do not sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. Plan to get up – set your phone to remind you. Walk around the outside of your house briskly.
- Loosen up your neck – turn your head from one side to the other, look down so your chin is pressed into your chest, look as far up as you can; and then do it all over again, a few times.
- Lie down on your bed and lift your knees, pulling your feet towards your body so your legs form an upside-down V. Press the small of your back into the bed; then tighten your tummy muscles and count to five. Relax and then repeat five times.
- Still on your bed in the same position, keep your knees together and swing them from side to side, counting a total of five swings each way, then relax and once more, repeat.
- Use your children as exercise equipment. Swing them over your head to give your arms some exercise; lie down and do push-ups with a small child on your back – a great game which will have them giggling.
- Put on some music and dance. Aim to use your arms, legs and pelvis in the dance, no matter how funny this looks (a good laugh is great therapy, anyway)!
Celebrate Movement for Good Health Day NOW by getting your blood pumping and boosting your immunity!
Article courtesy of the South African Society of Physiotherapy. ( www.saphysio.co.za.)