Simplify and slow down — think of this period of confinement as an opportunity rather than a punishing ordeal is the message from some of Dubai’s health and fitness professionals.
“Right now, more than ever we need to simplify,” says Fran Ellis, nutrition coach and owner of the Frantasticlife.com community website that helps women and their families manage their health, fitness and nutrition through sustainable, habitual changes.
“Good nutrition and fitness shouldn’t be complicated, pandemic or not.
“One very powerful tool to tune into what your body needs in terms of food and nutrition is to slow down.”
Good nutrition and fitness shouldn’t be complicated, pandemic or not.
“In today’s fast-paced world, we tend to throw food at our face out of necessity and fear of hunger,” says Ellis, who’s also a personal trainer. “Now we have the chance to sit and get intimate with food again, experience it, taste it, notice the texture and understand when we start to feel satisfied.”
Slowing down allows for better digestion and an opportunity to de-stress. While some people may have embraced this slowdown, she says, many have launched into unsustainable activities.
“I know we are all seeking control where we can find it at the moment,” says Ellis, “ But what is the purpose of launching yourself into a gruelling exercise and diet plan only to go back to old habits when this thing blows over, which it will.”
Dr Chyrell-Lyn Mananguite, general practitioner at Mediclinic Deira, agrees that stress eating or eating due to boredom is common, and that the key is to have well-balanced meals and make time for other activities.
A well-balanced meal consists of a variety of foods in the right proportions including fruits and vegetables, which should make up over a third of the daily intake, some dairy, starch with fibre, lean meat or pulses and every week at least two meals of fish (oily fish such as salmon or mackerel are ideal), according to the UK’s National Health Service website.
Helping others to cope with stress, caring for family and friends and self-care can make a community stronger, says Dr Mananguite.
Sleep is vital
Self-care is essential to ensure your immunity is at its best to fight off infection, she adds. “Having plenty of sleep or adequate sleep of eight hours [a day] is a must.”
The US-based National Sleep Foundation states that without regular good sleep your body tends to create fewer cytokines, a group of proteins that help the body regulate immunity and inflammation, leaving you vulnerable to infections.
Stay optimistic. If everyone takes heed of their responsibility and partakes in the prevention of Covid-19, this pandemic will surely have its end.
Stress contributes to a sleepless night, so ways to counteract this would be to relax both body and mind by practising meditation or yoga, by taking up vigorous exercise in the day or even by simply ensuring you have a comfortable and supportive mattress that suits your own body.
Dr Mananguite suggests creating an indoor activity schedule for all at home. This could include unlocking dormant or new hobbies, connecting with distant friends and family on the telephone or via social media and helping children with their distance learning.
She believes it is essential to keep abreast of reliable updates from government agencies related to the pandemic, such as the WHO Health Alert on WhatsApp.
Stay fit at home
On the exercise front, the hardest thing for people staying at home is to start building a new routine, says Keith O’Malley-Farrell, Managing Partner of A Life of Education, an online health and fitness education website.
“When building any new habit, it’s like breaking an old one. You need to motivate yourself with the new normal,” he says, and recommends people start the first workout as early in the day as possible with a simple 20-30 minutes body weight workout.
“Create a small 3mx3m space, move the furniture, shift the sofa, drag the kitchen table out of the way and that’s your gym.” An exercise routine that moves the body up and down, side to side with some rotation is ideal.
Create a small 3mx3m space, move the furniture, shift the sofa, drag the kitchen table out of the way and that’s your gym.
“From a neurological perspective, rotation will give you that extra added bump to get your body feeling great after a workout purely because it is often overlooked in our daily life,” explains O’Malley-Farrell.
Stretching sessions that incorporate breathing and relaxing the mind will freshen you up.
Stair climbing is a big winner in Dubai, he says. At a beginner fitness level, climb between four to eight floors as quickly as you can, rest on the downward return with no stopping, then repeat about five to eight times.
You can check YouTube, which has many exercise channels for children and adults aimed at different fitness levels.
Above all, says Dr Mananguite, “Stay optimistic. If everyone takes heed of their responsibility and partakes in the prevention of Covid-19, this pandemic will surely have its end.”
Maintaining mental health
Dr Saliha Afridi, Clinical Psychologist, The LightHouse Arabia, gives some pointers on how to keep family life in balance during this period
● Have a routine. Being planned, organised and disciplined will help you to adjust faster.
● Have a morning and evening family huddle in which you talk to the family about the day’s schedule — what to expect, what is expected.
● Have stations in the home for the different activities. Now that the home is a school, a workplace and a playground, it is important to have assigned locations for each so that all can be most productive.
Work in 45-minute blocks. Make sure you check in with the kids before you start an important meeting so that they do not interrupt you.
● Make do not disturb signs and discuss what they mean. If you do not have a personal space, use a noise cancellation headset.
● Work in 45-minute blocks. Make sure you check in with the kids before you start an important meeting so that they do not interrupt you.
● Have a tidy space. If there is chaos on the outside, you are likely to feel anxious and claustrophobic on the inside.
● Communicate often with a partner and the family to ensure everyone’s boundaries are being respected.
● Let go of the perfectionism. Make a list of things that are uncompromisable including routine, daily exercise, sleep or waking up time, rules on junk food. Then loosen up on everything else.
● Relax the technology rules but still limit entertainment technology and allow children to only use educational technology.
● Stay positive. Rather than be negative about isolation embrace your choice to stay indoors.