Whether you’re bored or overworked, the COVID-19 lockdown has taken a toll on our daily life and stripped us of any sense of “normalcy” as we knew it. Along with the mental health challenges social distancing has brought, it can also have an impact on our physical health.
“If we don’t keep an intentional check, social distancing could cause physical problems such as postural disorders with chronic backache, obesity, and cardiovascular disorders associated with obesity,” Dr. Sanchit Bhalgat, a senior medical officer at V.N Gandhi Hospital in Mumbai, told Re:Set. Other health challenges that can occur include dry eye disorder, nutritional deficiencies, and a range of psychological and psychiatric disorders including clinical depression.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, those between the ages of 30 to 50 are most susceptible to lower back pain while an inactive job and working behind a desk all day can exacerbate the issue. That matched with poor posture and inadequate back support can lead to drastic long term effects on your back. “Being holed up with a supply of food, which may be processed considering the longevity and ease of availability of those goods, might cause a tendency of stress eating, weight gain, and a variety of eating disorders,” Dr. Bhalgat told Re:Set. Stress eating along with inactivity can lead to an increase in weight and in drastic cases has been linked to cardiovascular diseases. “All the free time is urging us to gravitate towards…modes of instant gratification such as television and social media which can cause physical problems that affect your posture and eyes,” Dr. Bhalgat added.
A study conducted by Julianne Holt-Lunstad, Timothy Smith and J. Bradley Layton in 2015 showed that a lack of social interaction increases the risk of mortality by 29%. This remained consistent with different health conditions, sex, age, and cause of death.
To combat the physical side-effects of social distancing, we asked Dr. Bhalgat to put together a list of things we can adapt to our daily routines.
- Taking a walk around the house — preferably brisk and at a fixed time
- Having an exercise or yoga routine
- Keep a check on your diet and try to add nutrition-rich food items to your meals
- If you are in front of the screen a lot, take a break every 20 minutes for at least 20 seconds
- Have water at least five times a day, preferably warm. Ensure that you consume a total of at least four litres of water during the day
“Trying to adopt positive habits while we have long hours to ourselves will benefit our physical and mental health greatly,” Bhalgat added. “These are unprecedented times in most of our lives and there is no doubt that how we choose to act during these times will affect us as individuals.”