Keeping healthy during level 5

Last year was trying to say the least; we had to learn new ways to stay healthy, to socialise and be responsible, and from the looks of it, this will have to go on for quite a while still. 

However, don’t throw your towel in the ring and retreat to the sofa and Netflix just yet. While Covid-19 probably kept some from making New Year’s health resolutions, it is now more important than ever to stay healthy. So, if the worst comes to worst, your body is healthy and fit to fight the virus and hopefully keep you unscathed. 

As gyms and dance and fitness classes are cancelled, I know it can feel like a big challenge to keep active, without anyone to ‘be held accountable to’. It’s always easier to get things done if other people count on you – whether it’s your trainer or coach, or teammates and dance partners. 

The DIY Fitness and health column this month will therefore solely consist of tried and tested advice for you – to stay healthy (and in the same breath keep your wits) during level 5. If you are a regular reader, you’ll find repeat advice, which I hope won’t bore you, but hopefully you’ll also find new inspiration to live a better life.

Five best practices during lockdown

1. Commit to spend one hour outside every day despite rain, sunshine, wind and snow. If you have kids or pets at home with you, dress up appropriately and take them with you. Fresh air is your best ally to a strong immune system, as well as good sleep and, not least, a positive mindset. 

For toddlers, my experience is to bring a scooter or bike with you, unless they like walking around. Also have lots of patience to stop and look at snails, flowers, rocks, beetles and whatever else catches the attention of young eyes. If you’re alone or with older kids (or your partner) a jog or run would be a great option. You can plan a route from home within your 5k radius that’s approx. one hour (or longer).  

Being outdoors will boost your immune system, as you will obtain Vitamin D through your skin (when the sun is out). Exercising also mobilises pathogen and inflammation-fighting immune cells. In other words exercise helps the body fight inflammation and boost production of white blood cells to help fight infections. 

Exercise further brightens your mood, due to the release of endorphins, helping you sleep better at night. I notice a big difference in my toddler as well: On the days we spend more time outside, he seems to sleep earlier and better.

2. Eat well. Your body needs vitamins and minerals to be healthy and while supplements are a great way to get this, the best source is non-processed food, for example clean meat, veg, fruit and grains. It should be noted that frozen and canned vegetables are often just as good as fresh when it comes to minerals and vitamins. Food like chicken nuggets, sausages (not butcher), white bread, fries and sweetened drinks are all examples of processed foods, full of additives, sugar and processed fat. This is not to preach or say you should never consume these products. Every now and then I enjoy a fizzy drink and white bread is a staple in my house but we do make sure to eat a lot of clean produce-based meals as well.

3. Boost your immune system. Besides eating nutritious foods, you can also make smoothies and hot drinks to help boost your health. You’ll find great advice in West Cork People from my knowledgeable colleagues on health-boosting food and drinks. Further inspiration can be found online of course. Just type in healthy smoothies and you’ll get recipes to last you until mid-summer. My favourite winter drink is raw ginger tea with honey and lime. Peel a small thumb-sized piece of ginger and julienne it. Squeeze lemon juice or add a slice of lemon and a teaspoon of honey into the cup. Pour over boiling water and ‘voila’ you have one of the best winter immune-boosting drinks. Bonus tip: If you suffer from pollen allergy: Use local honey and it can help you to be less affected in the pollen season.

4. Strength training at home. As you might know if you read my column, I’ve got a pair of dumbbells, which I love. They are great for anything from short five-minute 3×10 sets of various arms and back exercises to being included in a longer session. But you don’t need equipment to keep your strength or even build muscles. Make a plan to do 20 push-ups a day (or the equivalent to your training prior to level 5) or every other day as a starting point and see where it takes you. Keep it up and before the lockdown is finish, I promise you will see results and feel different. Remember consistency is the key.

5. Drink water. Should you fall down onto the couch, turn on Netflix by mistake, and have a hard time getting back up, don’t fret. Even once the world returns normal, we all need some time off. Just don’t forget to drink water. It’s cheap, it’s clean and it’s zero calories. It’s all too easy to gain weight by drinking calories. We often don’t think of drinks – alcoholic or not – as a source of calories, whereas everyone knows the dangers of chocolate and crisps. However, drinks, whether it’s beer, wine or spirits, smoothies or fresh squeezed juices, are full of calories. So, if you do find yourself on a Netflix binge, don’t put on the Netflix weight. Drink water.

Last thing for me is to say: YOU GOT THIS! I know we are all tired of Covid-19, but we need to get through this together and we will. And I hope – if you only take one thing away from this – please do get some outdoor time. It’ll do wonders for your mood and can help you to get to the end of level 5 in better shape than you went in.

Questions and comments are welcome as usual at or via @trainwithadane on Instagram

Tania Presutti

Tania Presutti is a Danish freelance journalist and fitness professional who now resides in Clonakilty.

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