Being less active during pandemic may have health consequences

The pandemic’s impact on health goes beyond those who contracted the coronavirus. Even those who managed to avoid the infection may have suffered consequences to their health, and in an area that many take for granted.

In December, I fell while walking my dog. I slipped going down a moderate slope in the park and landed straight on my rump. The fall knocked the wind out of me for a minute, but I was fortunate not to break or sprain anything. My back was very sore and remained so for about a week. I treated it using over-the-counter pain medication and homeopathic balms. My mobility was limited and I was forced to slow down and take it easy, but fortunately I fully recovered and don’t have any lingering issues.

I’m in my late 40s and in decent health. This was a minor fall, but it reminds me that as I get older, recovery from such incidents takes longer. We often take our mobility for granted, but the pandemic may have a lingering impact on our physical conditioning, making us more prone to falls. Studies suggest that some older adults have experienced a decrease in mobility during the pandemic, The New York Times reported.

Those who now work from home full-time may be moving less than when they went into the office, even if they drove to work. Pandemic restrictions may have shut parks, gyms, malls, and other outlets that older people used to exercise. Depression and anxiety can dampen the desire to exercise. Those who did contract COVID-19 may have battled lingering symptoms that made exercise difficult. And those who received benefits from physical and occupational therapy may have not been able to receive those services during the pandemic.

What geriatric health experts are concerned about is that decreased activity levels may result in worse physical functioning, which is key to older adults’ ability to live independently. A fall can lead to a lengthy recovery and trigger a fear of falling again, creating a vicious cycle with significant health consequences. The good news is that we can engage in simple activities that will help us reverse the impacts of our sedentary lifestyle and regain our mobility. Walking, yoga, and tai chi are all great ways to get moving and improve physical functioning.

Take inventory of your mobility and your elder loved ones and make an action plan if you desire to increase your mobility. Taking small steps now can make all the difference in keeping ourselves and our elder loved ones living independently.

2 Comments

Filed under Awareness & Activism

2 responses to “Being less active during pandemic may have health consequences

  1. Yikes. Scary fall. I’ve had that happen to me before. It does take longer to recover from such things. I’m ten years older than you.

    You’re so right about becoming idle. My husband works from home all the time now (I was already at home). We’ve both realized our non-movement and have recently been getting on the treadmill more often. My mom, who is in assisted living, has had her health issues get worse because of non-movement. She needs pulmonary rehab to get her lungs working better.

    Thanks for this informative reminder.

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