Coronavirus Lockdown: Expert-Recommended Tips To Take Care Of Your Heart Health
Heart health: The lockdown has been extended for the third time and it is important that people with heart disease take utmost care of their health. Dr. Sanjay Mittal lists some important guidelines.
Eat healthy and be physically active to take care of your heart health during lockdown
- Regular physical activity can reduce high blood pressure
- Heart patients need to keep check on their blood pressure
- Take care of your physical and mental health during lockdown
COVID-19 puts people with heart disease at double jeopardy. World over it is evident that people over the age of 60 years, especially those with diabetes, hypertension and pre-existing heart disease have higher risk of complications if they have COVID-19 infection. Staying at home and not adhering to the regular routine amidst the lockdown can have a negative impact on your health. Sedentary behaviours along with low levels of physical activity can be bad for your heart.
Heart health: Take good care of your heart during coronavirus lockdown with the following steps
1. Engage in regular physical activities
- Regular physical activity can reduce high blood pressure, help manage weight and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- The WHO (World Health Organization) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.
- While you may not be able to pursue outdoor physical activities like taking a walk or run in the nearby park or visiting the gym, you should engage in physical exercise, yoga and meditation indoors.
- You should take short breaks between work and utilise those to walk around the house or perform stretching exercises.
- In case you have a desk-job involving sitting in front of the computer for longer duration, get up from your chair or recline it every 30 minutes.
- There are several workout apps that provide personalised training for people across all ages and can be used for setting up a daily exercise regime. Exercises such as dance, cardio-based workouts, pilates and yoga are all available online. These exercises do not require special equipment and can be easily performed at home.
2. Maintain a consistent schedule
- While you may not be stepping out, it is important to create a schedule that every family member follows daily to have a healthy heart and body.
- For those who have a professional job, set designated work hours and try to keep within the boundaries of your work schedule to maintain regular work-life balance and avoid stress.
- People always crib about the lack of time. This period can be seen as an opportunity to think, discuss, plan and execute activities for the future.
3. Take adequate dietary precautions
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated (until and unless doctors have advised you to restrict fluids on account of heart weakness). Drink water instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Limit the intake of salt, sugar and fats; avoid adding sugar or honey to foods.
- Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Do not indulge or overeat.
- Use cooking methods such as steaming, grilling or sautéing instead of frying.
- Consume wholegrains such as oats, brown pasta and rice, quinoa and whole-wheat bread and wraps, rather than refined grain foods such as white pasta and rice, and white bread.
- Avoid drinking large amounts of strong coffee, tea, and caffeinated soft drinks or energy drinks that can lead to dehydration and negatively impact sleeping patterns.
- Do not use consume alcohol or tobacco as alcohol undermines your body's ability to cope with infectious diseases, including COVID-19.
- Reduce intake of foods such as red and fatty meats, butter and full-fat dairy products.
- Follow good hygiene practices while preparing and handling food even at home.
4. Engage in recreational activities
- While staying indoors, mental health becomes equally important as physical well-being. Engage in mentally-stimulating activities such as reading, playing board games and solving puzzles.
- Practice mediation and deep breathing to calm the nerves.
- Participate in household activities such as cleaning, cooking, washing to remain active and occupied.
- Indulge in arts and crafts and other creative activities.
5. Try to continue with the healthy practices you learned during lockdown
- There have been some favoruable impacts of lockdown on cardiac health. These include the sudden reduction in pollution leading to decrease in respiratory allergies and infections.
- Maintain the work-from-home culture for more family time which acts as a big stress buster.
- Continue the culture of tele-meetings instead of intercity/interstate travels.
- Good family time has no substitute - remember during the toughest lockdown only your family was with you.
- Continue to abstain from junk food.
- Don't start smoking/tobacco again as it can increase oxidative stress on heart and vessels.
(Dr. Sanjay Mittal, Director, Clinical and Preventive Cardiology, Heart Institute, Medanta)
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