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How can you stay fit and healthy during quarantine? 

Summer is almost over and many of us traveled overseas to see our loved ones or have a vacation. Now, it’s time to go through quarantine, alone or with your family. In this new episode of Abroad With Care, Andrea interviews Cardeux Nel, Senior physiotherapist at Hong Kong Sports Clinic. Cardeux shares with us her advice for surviving and thriving in your hotel room. 

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What are the consequences of staying locked in quarantine on our physical health? 

Quarantine is often an unpleasant experience. Loss of freedom, uncertainty over disease status and boredom can create dramatic effects. With regards to physical health, one of the main factors that influence your health is lack of movement. Also, your immune system can weaken quite a bit. Vitamin D is key in building a robust immune system. Neglecting this and being Vitamin D deficient can make it more challenging to fight illnesses. As most hotels in Singapore and Hong Kong don’t allow open windows, you suffer from a reduced exposure to fresh air. Finally, staying indoors puts a lot of pressure on your spine and may lead to back pain and posture issues. Sitting puts huge stress on your back muscles, neck, and spine; slouching makes it worse. 

How is our mental health affected?

Not being able to walk outside and have open windows for fresh air can affect people's well-being. Some individuals need to do quarantine with children which adds to the challenge. Many individuals have also traveled because they needed to because family members were ill etc. This can be a lot to have to mull over during this quarantine period. 
 
It is important to have activities that can keep your mind stimulated: puzzles, games, quizzes. Make sure you take the time to contact family and friends using video call.    

> Read: How to Stay Healthy in Hong Kong with a Busy Schedule.

Eating well may be the hardest part of the quarantine. Food provided by hotels may not be healthy and it is easy to get tempted by comfort food. What can we do to eat in a healthy way?

Having inadequate basic supplies like food and drinks is a source of frustration and is continually associated with anxiety. Because people are anxious about food shortages, they tend to buy more packaged and long-life food over fresh food. This can lead to weight gain and to a reduced intake of antioxidants. People often suffer from stress-related eating in quarantine. 

The best thing to do is plan and schedule. Check the menu in advance when it is possible, so you are aware of what nutrition you will be getting for that period. Also ask the hotel what the size of your fridge is and if you will have access to a microwave. Someone can bring one to you. 
 
Buy nonperishables in advance and you can ask someone to help you buy the fresher foods closer to the time and drop off. Using grocery delivery can also be quite helpful: Food panda mart. You can buy your fruit and vegetables. You can also have your blender delivered with the food. 
 
Once in quarantine, schedule your meals. Having a schedule makes it a lot easier to remain focused on other things you are doing and prevents unnecessary snacking and flicking through food delivery apps. 
 
There are options available to have a 3-course meal delivered to you every day, with Nosh and Nutrition Kitch. I understand that not everyone has the financial capacity to do so. So, the best thing to do is have a few healthy snacks, such as nuts and seeds, oats, healthy crisps. 
 
What is your advice to remain active and exercise?
 
The World Health Organisation recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, or a combination of both. These recommendations can still be achieved even at home or in a hotel room, with no special equipment and with limited space.  
 
Again, scheduling is crucial. Some of my patients have had their bikes and home trainers delivered to their room and they have spent hours on Swift app. You might be able to prepare a small bag of goodies (mat, bands, small weights) to be dropped off with your food.  
 
Find your workouts in advance on YouTube or Apps such as: DownDog, Nike training app, Home Workout. If you want something designed for you, you can talk to your PT or physiotherapist to assist with a program delivered to you via an app like True coach or PhysiApp. Many of my patients have continued with their rehab through their quarantine and travels. Telehealth has made it easy to continue with Physiotherapy or training online. 
 
Sleeping may be challenging during quarantine. How can we overcome this challenge? 

It is key to set a routine. Try to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. I recommend switching off all electronic devices 4minutes before you want to sleep. Bring your own pillow if you know you are a fussy sleeper. At the hotel, Eye masks and ear plugs can be a game changer. If you have insomnia, try some meditation before going to bed. Headspace, Calm, Ten percent happier are helpful meditation apps.

Remember that exercising and staying busy during the day is important. If you are busy, then your body will crave sleep more. If you watch Netflix all day and you are constantly napping it will be extremely hard for your body to understand your circadian rhythm.

Many parents fear their children might suffer from the quarantine. What can they do to make this experience easier to go through? 

As hotels are very sterile environments and your child is not able to do much exploratory play, finding ways to incorporate sensory play into your child’s routine can be a wonderful way to kill a few hours while giving them important input. 
 
For younger children between 2 and 4 years old, some great ideas are shaving cream, rice, pasta, water beads, paints, pompoms, playdoh. A fun idea is to freeze toys in water and make ice cubes for water play. 
 
For older children, you can incorporate early math or literacy skills by shaping letters or numbers out of playdoh or drawing them in rice or shaving cream. 
 
Kids need exercise. If your kids are too young, they can be substituted for weights If they are a little older they can join you with your workouts. Keep it fun. Make it a game so they stay motivated. 


Abroad With Care is available on most podcast platforms, such as Apple Podcast, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Podcast Addict. Subscribe today and make sure not to miss out on any of our short episodes! 
 

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