A Letter from a Doctor On Exercising During the MCO

April 14, 2020
Staying active has perhaps become more important than ever.

Medical frontliners Image credit: DepositPhotos

Malaysia’s frontliners are national heroes today (and rightly so!) because of the deep sacrifices they have made for our nation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are working long hours, exposing themselves to the risk of infection, barely getting any sleep and even forced to stay away from loved ones so they don’t pass the virus on to their families.

One doctor from Johor, Dr Hazli Sufian Sulaiman, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Columbia Asia Hospital Tebrau, took time off during this Movement Control Order (MCO) period to stress on the importance of exercise while we stay home and help the country flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases.

Here’s what he said:

“All of us are adjusting to this “new normal” life where physical interaction becomes limited and emotional adjustments need to be made. Staying active has perhaps become more important than ever to keep your physical and mental well-being intact (click here for ways to stay mentally well during this time). One of the ways you can stay active during this MCO period is by exercising. Exercise helps your body and mind in many ways as it can help manage stress levels, improve energy levels, for weight management and reduces the risk of serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

But, more importantly now given the current situation, regular exercise helps boost your immune system.

Although your usual workout routine may no longer be possible, there are still lots of ways to get a good workout, even if you are in self-isolation. If you are new to exercise, even 10 minutes of movement a day can help your body and mind feel better. You can start small, with 10 minutes of yoga or low impact aerobics a day, and gradually build up. If a structured routine is not your style, you can get creative and build your own exercise routine like using household items such as water bottles and canned foods for weights, jumping jacks, jogging on the spot for 30 second intervals, sit-ups and push-ups. Anything to get your heart rate up a little will benefit you greatly.

Another popular option now is to take your workout online. There are many free online videos that are suitable for various fitness levels and are suitable for even a small-sized living space. From low-impact aerobics that are easier on your joints, to high-intensity interval training (HIIT), to strength workouts, Zumba, Pilates and Yoga (check out this easy yoga routine you can do in bed). With just the click of a button, you can choose to do these workouts at any time of the day. There are also many great workout apps available now, where you can mix and match your routines, if you prefer to do exercises at your own pace.

Other enjoyable ways to increase your physical activity, and perhaps include your kids and family members in as well, are virtual reality and physical movement games from Nintendo Switch, Xbox Kinect and Playstation 4 Move. Some of the games available include Ring Fit, Fitness Boxing (Switch), Kinect Sports Rivals, Zumba Fitness World Party (XBox Kinect) and Just Dance 2019 (PS4). All of these games cater for various levels of fitness and are fun ways to spend quality time with your family members during this MCO.

But don’t worry if you don’t have any of those things. You can opt to just walk around inside the house. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise because of its low impact to your joints, ability to keep your heart rate up, the fact that you can still do it within a confined space, and because it doesn’t cost you anything!

When all else fails, a simple increase in physical activity doing domestic chores such as mopping the floor, vacuuming or even gardening can build up a sweat, and be beneficial for your heart health.”

Thank you, Doctor! And thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to all the frontliners in the medical field, and others who provide food, and various essential services. Stay safe, stay healthy.

*This letter was provided to SHAPE by Columbia Asia Hospital.

Dr. Hazli Sufian Bin Sulaiman
Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon
Columbia Asia Hospital - Tebrau

MBBCh BAO (Ireland), Doctor of Orthopedic & Traumatology (UKM), CMIA (NIOSH), Special Interest Arthroplasty (Germany)

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  This article first appeared in HerInspirasi.com, 9 April 2020
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