On Episode 118 of the School of Calisthenics podcast, we once again chat with DR Sally Bell, a trained GP and Practitioner about different steps we can take to make sure our bodies feel prepared and protected to deal with the current Coronavirus outbreak, as well as illnesses in general.
We are currently living through an incredibly uncertain and unsettling time in our recent world history. The global outbreak of Coronavirus has dictated different sets of circumstances on our daily lives that only a few weeks ago, we may have considered impossible to imagine. As schools and businesses close, and supermarket shelves are left largely empty, it’s easy to find yourself falling down a rabbit hole of anxiety and despair about the state of the world, both at a collective and individual level.
At the School of Calisthenics, we don’t claim to be experts on understanding the global societal or economic impacts that the current situation could have, but what we do believe we are experts in, is understanding both the human body and mind, and how best we can manage and look after these on an individual basis.
With no cure or treatment currently available to battle against the Coronavirus, all we have to rely on is our own body’s immunity defence system, so what steps can we take to make sure it is ready and up to the task?
Before we start, note that while a lot of these steps are extremely beneficial in improving immunity in the body, they are not a straight substitute for protocols and advice set out by governments and health organisations around the world regarding the Coronavirus. Regularly washing your hands and maintaining self-distancing or isolation procedures should still be followed and if done so in accordance with the following, will greatly reduce your chances of becoming ill.
The best way to build immunity defence is with a healthy and nutritious diet. 50% of the food we consume in the Western World is processed, meaning somewhere down the line in its production, it has been chemically or mechanically altered. Consuming these foods regularly is a dietary regime that can lead to a whole host of health complications, not least making us more vulnerable to experiencing regular colds and flu. DR Bell recommends turning our focus towards more plant-based and whole-food diets that are far kinder to our bodies. If you are a Vegetarian or Vegan, note that many meat substitutes are in fact also processed food, so try and get your protein from more natural sources such as lentils, beans and oats. Try and also consume ingredients such as garlic, ginger and turmeric, all of which possess properties that can help the body’s immune system feel boosted and stronger, keeping you from getting ill.
We all know that regular exercise will provide you with a host of health benefits, but in the current confusion and anxiety surrounding the Coronavirus, how and where can you best fit your exercise regime in? DR Bell is keen to stress that the terms “Social Isolation” or “Social Distancing” don’t translate to “stay at home sat watching TV all day”, rather make sure you maintain responsible levels of space (a metre or two) away from any other individual to reduce the chances of viral transmission.
In fact, sitting inside for a week without access to fresh air and Vitamin D can significantly affect your mood and make you more likely to experience feelings of anxiety and depression, both of which can have a huge knock-on effect on your physical health and your immunity levels.
Going out for a run or practising some simple bodyweight exercises during this time is a great way to maintain your level of fitness if you don’t have access to a gym or specialist equipment, and will also help alleviate feelings of anxiety that can come from being inside too much.
This is also particularly relevant if you are working from home in an environment where you may be sat about all day. Don’t fall into the trap of making this a regular habit of yours and make sure that you get up and go for regular walks and have breaks for fresh air.
Finally, “listen to your body”. You know you better than anyone else, so if you feel unwell or that you’re working out too much and don’t have the energy to maintain it, take a rest. Your physical “gains” won’t suffer as a result of it and your body and your mind will appreciate it much more in the long term.
According to DR Bell any quantity of sleep under 6 hours is scientifically proven to significantly reduce “natural killer cells” in the body, putting you at a greater risk of falling foul to ill health. Try and maintain a regular and healthy sleeping pattern and not only will you feel and look better, your body internally will get to work much more effectively at battling infections and viruses.
This is, of course, a completely unprecedented period in time we are experiencing right now. No one knows what is around the corner so we would recommend that you continue to take each day as it comes and be thankful for what you have around you. Continue to listen and follow public health advice as well as maintaining healthy habits in your exercise regime, your dietary intake and your sleep cycle and hopefully you should have a strong enough immune system to battle the effects of the Coronavirus, as well as a number of other health complications. Keep these things consistent and be prepared that circumstances, as they are now, could become “the new normal”, so maintaining or learning these habits now will serve you much more effectively in the long run.
As mentioned in the podcast be aware that our Bodyweight Basic’s Bundle, which usually costs £40 is now available completely free on the website until 30 April 2020, so do check it out if you want some exercises you can do at home during this period to help you maintain a healthy body and mind!
If you want to listen again or haven’t got round to it yet, find a link to the podcast below for an expansion on all of these points and DR Sally Bell’s professional advice on them. But much more than anything right now, keep looking after yourselves!
Bodyweight Basics is a progressive bodyweight training programme designed to help you master the fundamental movements of calisthenics. It’s specifically created for beginners and more advanced trainers alike and can be enjoyed by the whole family with over 100 bodyweight video tutorials to choose from!
Available for free until 30 April 2020.