Not Going Anywhere Any Time Soon
Coping with Isolation at Home - Keeping Fit and Healthy
In the past I have actually chosen to self-isolate in order to deal with rehabilitation after major surgery, including total replacement of both knees in one operation. For six weeks I concentrated on getting fit for work and nothing else. I developed a strategy to cope with this situation which I referred to as hibernating as self-isolation or total lockdown sounds stark and lonely. It need not be. These are the main points of my strategy:
- Set up a home gym
- Research recommended exercises on the internet
- Daily outdoor exercise – walking, jogging or a bike ride
- Establish a daily routine
- Plan a project, learn a new skill, join an online class
- Plan a healthy diet and avoid too many ‘treats’
1 Set up a home gym
It is important to have a dedicated space for your home gym so that it is always available. I think the most important piece of equipment is an exercise bike. It does not need to be a fancy one with a computer, television screen etc. But it does need to be stable with a resistance setting. Be wary of the folding models as some of them can be unstable. Read the reviews before deciding especially in relation to putting the bike together. Don’t go for the cheapest bikes you should be able to find a bike that is perfectly adequate for around £100. You will find a good selection on websites like Argos who will deliver. Whatever else I do I always spend 20 minutes on my exercise bike with a 30-second burst at the end to get the heart pumping.
Any other equipment you buy will depend on the exercise regime you decide to follow as some don’t require any equipment at all eg isometrics and calisthenics. I bought a wobble board and weights to strap on my ankles for my rehabilitation exercises otherwise I worked with stairs, chairs, my breakfast bar and I filled a drawer with books to create a step.
2 Research on the Internet for Recommended Exercises
There is so much information on the internet these days it takes time to work through it all. Personally, I favour isometrics, basically stretches, which are effective, easy to do and generally don’t require any equipment. Isometrics will maintain fitness but are not designed to build up strength. You will find a good introduction to these exercises on this uTube video
Calisthenics is an exercise regime that does not require weights or other equipment that is designed to use your own body weight to increase body strength and flexibility. You will find a good introduction for beginners on this UTube video.
If your rehabilitation programme has been interrupted by the coronavirus epidemic keep doing the exercises recommended by your physiotherapist. Most important is making sure you do them every day and ideally three times each day – but be guided by the information you have been given by the hospital. The website Therapia offers rehabilitation videos following different types of surgery but do make sure the exercises suggested do not conflict with the advice given by your own surgeon or physiotherapist. I found this exercise sheet particularly helpful post total knee replacement surgery
Special note for those who have had joint replacement surgery postponed. It is still important to keep fit as this will help you to recover more quickly when you do have the replacement. Having practiced pre-habilitation before having both knees replaced I am personally aware of the benefits of doing this. I found both my exercise bike and my road bike were invaluable in the weeks prior to surgery when my knees were really painful. Isometric exercises are also good as they involve stretching different groups of muscles so painful areas can be avoided.
3 Outdoor Exercise
During this period of self-isolation and lockdown are allowed to go out once a day for exercise. Make it count by including some cardio-vascular exercises for example, jogging, brisk walking, cycling up a hill. I always go out on my own which makes social distancing easier. I have devised my own circuit. I start by jogging a short distance (cardio-vascular) then walking briskly to a designated point. I then turn back towards home but take my time, just enjoying being outside for a while.
4 Establish a Daily Routine
During each period of ‘hibernation’ I was quick to establish a daily routine and I did so soon after starting a period of self-isolation following a trip to Northern Italy. As I still wake up early I go for my walk early. I then spend at least an hour checking posts on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) inter-acting with the more interesting posts and messaging friends. You may like to set up your own Facebook Group or WhatsApp group to encourage and support each other during this period.
Next task checking and sending emails before my mid-morning coffee. I then get on with my project which I will probably work on for the rest of the day. The current project is to go through all the thousands of photographs I have taken over the past ten years and store them in some sort of logical order so they can be easily found.
5 Start a Project/Learn a New Skill/Join an Online Class
Having to stay at home for a few weeks is the ideal time to start working on a project – that book you have been meaning to write, the language you always said you wanted to speak. There are many online courses in a variety of subjects.
For those who just want to keep fit and need encouragement to do so why not join an online class such as yoga, pilates or buy some instruction DVDs
6 Eat a Healthy Diet and Avoid too Many ‘Treats’
Take advantage of your daily shop for necessities to plan a healthy diet. This is also another opportunity for a walk if there are food shops nearby. I know all of us with a sweet tooth will find it hard to resist those sweet treats calling to you from the cupboard so ration yourself – eat a piece of fruit instead. Shop early when morning deliveries have just arrived.
Most important of all - look for the positives and opportunities in this difficult time for everyone. And remember, social distancing is vital.