Being housebound for so long writhes the body, weakens the heart and lungs, and even impairs brain function. The effects of life in isolation can stay with us beyond the end of the pandemic (whenever it can).
This is what six months of isolation, staying at home, and being sedentary can do to your body.
A week at home, whether you are working, eating or sleeping, you may feel comforting and needed. But all inactivity can undo the hard-won progress.
This is because it can take months to build muscle and only a week to lose it. Humans, despite all our stamina, lose muscle more rapidly as we age, said Keith Baar, professor of molecular exercise physiology at the University of California ̵
When you lose muscle mass, you are not necessarily losing mass, but you are losing strength, which according to Baar is one of the “strongest indicators” of how long you will live.
“The stronger we are, the easier it is for us to maintain our longevity.”
Your heart and lungs weaken
If you don’t exercise, you don’t increase your heart rate. And when your heart doesn’t beat that fast, it gets weaker, Baar said.
The same thing happens to your lungs when you’re inactive, said Dr Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. He said many of his patients have felt their respiratory function deteriorate because they are no longer conditioned to exercise.
People with poor lung health are already considered more susceptible to coronavirus because it is a respiratory disease, so they are likely to stay at home to reduce the risk of infection. But if they don’t move and increase blood flow to the lungs, their pre-existing conditions could still damage them.
Exercise is the only key to improving heart and lung function – “Not a single drug can do that,” Galiatsatos said. If it’s not safe to get out of the house, Baar recommends dancing or finding household strength training items at home – think deadlifts.
If you are at home all day, every day, you are probably within walking distance of your pantry. Depending on your perspective, it’s convenient or dangerous.
With such easy access, your “feeding” window, or the length of time you eat most of your meals, could increase from 10 or 12 hours each day to 15 hours a day, more than half the day. , which could cause insulin levels to rise. Insulin encourages the accumulation of fat and the conversion of other fat molecules into fat, said Giles Duffield, an associate professor of anatomy and physiology at the University of Notre Dame who studies circadian rhythms and metabolism, among others. subjects.
Overconsumption is also a problem because, at the start of the pandemic, many people stocked up on non-perishable foods in case of shortages, Duffield said. Many non-perishable foods are highly processed and high in sugar and starch.
Weight gain during times of intense stress is normal and 2020 has been relentlessly stressful. However, weight gain becomes dangerous when it turns into obesity. So, your body could start resisting insulin and chronic health problems like metabolic diseases or diabetes could develop, Duffield said.
Your posture suffers
We all have a sitting position in which we sink unconsciously: slumped forward, shoulders hunched; curled spine, bent neck; on the chest, elbows up.
But sitting and lying down all day can seriously affect posture and strain your back, neck, shoulders, hips, and eyes, said Brandon Brown, epidemiologist and associate professor at the University of California Center for Healthy Communities. – Riverside.
Brown suggests getting up from your seat once an hour, walking and stretching for a moment. You could also lie down on the floor and “let your back adjust,” he said.
Your sleep suffers
At least half of all Americans are saving on vitamin D, which supports bone density and keeps fatigue at bay. You’re definitely one of them if you spend most of the day at home, with the curtains drawn, Duffield said.
Getting enough sunlight in the morning helps synchronize your body’s circadian rhythm, Duffield said. So, if you stay closed all week or work in the dark, your sleep may also be affected.
Brown said if you take walks or exercise, yard work, or other activities that drag you out for a while, you won’t have to worry about getting enough sunlight. If you’re unable to leave the house or the weather doesn’t allow it, bright artificial light can help your body retune in the morning, Duffield said, as well as avoiding blue lights at night.
Your brain slows down
A sedentary lifestyle can also slow down your brain.
Exercise produces certain chemicals in the brain that break down toxins in the blood and even prevent them from going to the brain, where they can kill brain cells, Baar said.
Not exercising means not efficiently breaking down amino acid byproducts that end up as neurotoxins in the brain.
The effects of isolation are insidious: Like the pandemic, physical symptoms after months of isolation are often not evident until they become harmful or extreme.
It’s also possible to avoid those symptoms before they show up forever.
Prioritizing your mental and physical health while you stay at home takes some work, but it’s a healthier coping mechanism for uncertainty than standing still until Covid-19 is no longer a threat, they say. health experts. And when it is safe to live fully again, you will be prepared.