Exercise improves your health. The corona crisis, however, is making it harder for all of us to get moving. But now, it’s especially important to put in the extra effort to stay fit and active because doing so actually boosts your immunity. Getting out might be challenging at the moment, and maybe you are self-isolating, but there are things you can do while you’re social distancing.
Physical activity helps reduce the risk of getting sick by strengthening your immune system. Not only does it help prevent things like heart disease or another stroke, it also helps us fight off viruses like corona too. Experts recommend taking at least 7000 steps a day to help prevent diseases such as stroke. Better yet, if you’re able to surpass this and take 10,000 steps a day, you can help lower your blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, and boost your immunity. We know that these numbers aren’t realistic for everyone, but taking as many steps a day that you can is a good place to start and also has health benefits.
Step-tracking helps you stay active
Just increasing your physical activity from wherever you are now can lower your risk for hospital admission, improve your life expectancy, can lead to more independence, and protect you from getting sick. This all sounds good, but how can you make sure that you are moving as much as you should be?
It turns out that holding yourself accountable by self-monitoring can encourage you to be more active. Japanese researchers reviewed half a dozen studies conducted all over the world. They found that self-monitoring significantly helped patients improve physical activity. On average, daily steps increased by over 2500 once people started to count. Many patients reached the recommended goal once they realized how inactive they really were.
Almost 700 participants overall were asked to measure their daily step count. They received support varying in forms such as internet-based resources, free pedometers, in-person workouts, text messages, and live counseling sessions with a physical therapist. These interventions kept the patients accountable and kept them tracking.
The researchers found that self-monitoring techniques were effective and that virtual support was enough for most patients to stay motivated and meet their targets, reducing the need for in-person contact. What this means is that when patients were aware and keeping track on their own, they held themselves accountable.
Self-monitoring can help you achieve better health, and it’s easy to do. All you need is a smartphone with an appropriate app. Most of the activity-tracking apps are automatically built-in or free. If you prefer a more simple option, a pedometer also does the trick and only costs a few dollars at your local pharmacy.
Tracking your steps is something that you can start doing right now during the coronavirus crisis. Start by counting the number of steps you take in a day. Then, set your goal a little higher the next day. It doesn’t matter if you walk outside, on a treadmill, or around the house. The important thing is that you are moving and strengthening your immune system. No need to wait, get tracking!
The lead author of this study is Yuki Kanejima, Department of Health Science, Kobe University in Kobe, Japan