Physical and mental health in lockdown – Help to get on track
Ok, so here we are, a year on and still facing uncertainty about so many things. We hear that we need to ‘hang in there’ and better times will come. But if you’re finding it hard to keep a stable weight and keep exercise going, maybe you need some help with keeping your physical and mental health in lockdown…
Your physical and mental health can be fragile in lockdown, so they need minding. Like an athlete who needs to keep training, you too might need a bit of remote coaching to get you going again on the right track.
Over the past year lots more of us have taken to the roads; walking, cycling and running to punctuate the long days working from home or home-schooling. So, is this helping weight management? Not always… some clients complain that it doesn’t seem to make any difference and others wonder if they are eating enough to fuel their exercise and maintain muscle mass.
We should all be exercising for at least 30 minutes per day – that means fast walking or something more intense, not a dawdle with the dog!
It is also well recognised that we need at least one strength-building session a week – this helps avoid injury, improves balance and protects our bones and joints. You don’t need the gym – squats, lunges and press-ups are all body weight exercises that you can do with no equipment. Please do get someone to show you or follow instruction online to avoid injury if you’re a beginner. The point is, after our mid-thirties, we will naturally start to lose muscle so it’s vital to use it not to lose it.
Operation Transformation this year introduced a ‘Minimum Fitness Test’ for Ireland, devised by the DCU School of Health and Human Performance. For example, if you are a woman aged 50-59 you should be able to do at least 6 press-ups although you are allowed do them from kneeling!
Have you heard that you can’t outrun (or walk) a bad diet? This is true! Energy in does not exactly equal energy out!!
Human beings are not ‘closed systems’ we are not machines – our bodies adapt to change, crave certain foods, get stressed, maybe sleep badly… all of which affect how we use the food we eat and how we choose what to eat.
So, how do we adapt our diet for increased exercise? Have you increased your walking hoping it will help your weight loss and felt deflated when it doesn’t seem to be making a difference? Try to think of exercise as something that is simply beneficial for your health, in fact it’s essential for good physical and mental health. Don’t think of exercise as a weight loss aid!
Sounds simple right? The problem is if you don’t time your eating correctly for exercise or if you have the wrong mix of food groups, your appetite might tell you that you really need the extra food and it will be very hard to resist. Here are 5 top tips on timing your food and exercise:
- Have a simple carb snack an hour before exercise, maybe a banana, a slice of toast & honey (no butter), a simple smoothie (1-2tbsp oats, half a glass of milk, half a banana, water and some cinnamon) OR a full meal 2-3 hours before
- Eat a good, balanced meal within 2 hours of finishing your exercise
- Eat a snack straight after a hard training session
- Keep well hydrated as a routine – don’t drink a lot during exercise
- If you’re training for a race or endurance event get professional nutrition advice
With Eatwise, you can be set up with The Libro app is used by nutritionists and dieticians in conjunction with professional software to calculate specific plans for clients – elite athletes would often have a plan like this. Clients can then keep track of their food and exercise and get detailed feedback on nutrition analysis as well as health & lifestyle goals
The type of food we eat matters, the simplest foods (carbohydrates) are easier to digest and provide more of the available energy to the body than fats and proteins, which are more complex to digest.
And we are all different, sometimes you need more specific nutrition advice if you’re finding it hard to lose or manage your weight.
Just to clarify – during lockdown I’m only seeing clients with a referral from a GP or psychologist face-to-face, other clients are online by phone or Zoom call. Looking forward to getting back fully but lots of clients are finding the remote sessions a help and with less distractions, concentrating on a plan can be easier in these restrictive times – so use the time wisely and start minding your physical and mental health in Lockdown!