The Jakarta Post
The World Health Organization has suggested that people spending most of their time at home exercise regularly to improve their physical and mental health. (Shutterstock/Skumer)
The World Health Organization has suggested that people spending most of their time at home exercise regularly to improve their physical and mental health.
As many people remain housebound because of the pandemic, new WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior, released on Wednesday, emphasize that everyone, of all ages and abilities, can be physically active and that every type of movement counts, the organization said in a statement.
The new guidelines recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity per week for all adults, including people living with chronic conditions or disabilities, and an average of 60 minutes per day for children and adolescents.
“Being physically active is critical for health and well-being. It can help to add years to life and life to years,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Every move counts, especially now as we manage the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic. We must all move every day – safely and creatively.”
All physical activity is beneficial and can be done as part of work, sport, leisure or transportation (walking, wheeling or cycling). It can also be done through dance, play and everyday household tasks, such as gardening and cleaning.
WHO physical activity unit head Fiona Bull said, “These new guidelines highlight how important being active is for our hearts, bodies and minds – and how the favorable outcomes benefit everyone, of all ages and abilities.”
In its Be Active campaign, the WHO points out that regular physical activity benefits the body and mind as it can reduce high blood pressure, help manage weight and can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and various cancers – all conditions that can increase susceptibility to COVID-19.
“The COVID-19 pandemic means that many of us are staying at home and sitting down more than we usually do [...]. But at a time like this, it’s very important for people of all ages and abilities to be as active as possible.
“Just taking a short break from sitting, by doing 3 to 4 minutes of light-intensity physical movement, such as walking or stretching, will help ease your muscles and improve blood circulation and muscle activity,” the organization said in a statement.
It added that physical activity improved bone and muscle strength and increased balance, flexibility and fitness. For older people, activities that improve balance help to prevent falls and injuries.
Regular physical activity can help set a daily routine and can provide a way to stay in contact with family and friends. It is also good for mental health – reducing the risk of depression and cognitive decline and delaying the onset of dementia – and improving one’s overall mood.
These routines can begin before the age of 1.
“All infants should be physically active several times a day. For those not yet mobile, this includes at least 30 minutes in a prone position, or tummy time, as floor-based play, spread throughout the day while awake,” said the WHO.
The organization encourages people over the age of 18 to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week.
Adults with poor mobility should be physically active three or more days a week to enhance balance and prevent falls. (nkn)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.
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