Enjoying life whilst self-isolating

Self-isolating during the Coronavirus outbreak might provide just the incentive to make us exercise.  And so improve our health.

Going to the Gym is no longer possible; it might even have been a no-no for many, but we don’t have to spend all day in splendid isolation.  With TV and media showing pictures of deserted streets, getting out and avoiding others whilst walking or cycling looks to be excellent ways of exercising.

And the National Trust, whilst closing its stately homes and parks, says ” Our countryside and coastal locations remain open with parking charges waived, but we encourage people to stay local and observe social distancing

Now is the time when a walk in a bluebell wood such as above should surely make anyone feel happy. These are to be found all over the UK, and will mostly be open for local walkers.

That’s providing we live where people are still allowed outside, and not Spain, Italy or other countries in lock-down. Keep    6 ft away from others, and carry a packet of wipes to cough in to or as a barier if you need to touch anything.

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Doctors advise 30 mins of brisk walking a day – or similar exercise. And although the wishy-washy advice from Downing Street to Britain implied that self-isolation meant staying indoors 24/7, according to Tweets from around the world it seems that unless you live in Europe, where people walking in the streets are told to go home by Police, in UK, Australia, USA, etc.  people are going outside with caution – but still going.

Something I didn’t expect

After cancer treatment, it was a shock to be told that I now faced a seven-hour heart operation to repair damage done as a result of treatment.

At this year’s Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference Dr. Jean-Bernard Durand showed how exercise programmes can improve outcomes for patients with cancer who already face a high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease should be a priority for long-term care of cancer survivors. According to Durand “mortality for breast cancer continues to go down, but what women are going to be faced with if they do not have a recurrence (is that) their number one cause of death is cardiovascular disease,” and this applies to all cancer survivors.

Physical activity and avoidance of weight gain are two important factors in reducing recurrence and mortality. Durand, who is director of cardiovascular genetics research and the Cardiology Fellowship Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center, explained how by looking at a patient’s cardiorespiratory fitness physicians could craft a personalized fitness program for patients to curb side effects from their disease and treatment.

Benefits of exercise

For most of us, simple exercise that gets us moving can be of immense benefit.  I’ve written elsewhere about how exercise definitely helps with weight loss, but another benefit came from riding my bike to hospital appointments.  It was surprising how many doctors saw me doing this, and commented favourably to me.  They were pleased I wore a helmet (many had worked in A & E where cyclists presented with massive injuries if heads weren’t protected), and there is no doubt that doctors warm to patients who try to look after themselves.  My bike earned me quite a few Brownie points!

Side effects

We all know we get long-term side effects from treatment, but exercise can be beneficial in dealing with many of these, such as osteoporosis, fatigue, etc..

Walking, as it is classed as ‘weight-bearing’, is advised for those with osteoporosis, or to help prevent it. And if you are hit by fatigue, surprisingly exercise can help deal with this as well. Don’t ask me to explain, go Google it!

And weight-loss advice is bound to carry information about combining diet with exercise;  it has been proven so often.

Mental exercise

If you write poetry, or mean to start writing a novel, now is the time to get on with it. Shakespeare often found his theatres closed due to plague; in 1592, an outbreak led him writing Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. This continued throughout his life;  whenever plague caused  ‘lockdown’,  he would produce another masterpiece. 


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