Fitness

Pandemic May Linger But Fitness Enthusiasts are Going Extra Mile to Stay Healthy

When the world faced the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic early last year, we didn’t know what to expect. As governments rushed headfirst into shutting down countries and states, some cooked, some cleaned, some baked bread or made coffee while many adjusted to working from homes. But along with the good and bad and all things aforementioned, also came to a predicament for everyone-our health was severely compromised. With gyms, outdoor activities, and literally any form of interactive sports shut down to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, people had no choice but to stay cooped up except for the occasional stretching of arms and legs or bare minimum walks that was possible in case one had a terrace. For the unlucky ones with no access to any such open spaces, they had to stay holed up inside apartments.

THE STRESS FACTOR

It affected our mental health in ways more than we could fathom. Mrs. Rita Roy, a Hyderabad-based clinical psychologist associated with the Chetana Hospital explains how. “The mind and the body work in tandem, we call it the mind-body dualism. If our mind is stressed, it is definitely going to impact the body and in the long run, be fatal too. In many cases we have seen psychosomatic illnesses such as arthritis, heart conditions arise in patients due to manhandling of stress and the pandemic was coupled with other issues too.”

Mrs. Roy’s words are accentuated by the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) said in its findings how the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted and in many places braked critical mental health services in over 90 percent of countries across the world, while the demand for mental health is increasing.

FITNESS REVOLUTION

As 2020 gave way to 2021,a deadly second wave followed and it caused thousands of deaths daily but amid the inevitable, a silver lining that was also seen was the way in which people, most of them decided to take the situation in their stride. With frequent restrictions being placed on physical health centres, fitness consciousness saw a revolutionary level of commitment from many. And a lot of it was sustainable and what was easily accessible. One of the most popular forms of working out that was adopted by many was Zumba, involving dance and aerobic exercise elements with music, primarily Latin, although it is now known to combine any kind of upbeat music to accompany the fitness regimes.

Zumba Instructor Network (ZIN) instructors became a huge hit among fitness enthusiasts and during the pandemic, it helped that for working out, a lot of their videos are even available online although training with a ZIN trainer is ideally encouraged.

THRIVING ONLINE WORKOUT

Sonali Dutta, who holds classes online and offline in Kolkata says, “Fitness is not just restricted to get a fitter body to wear that desirable dress or get in shape before your big day anymore- Covid-19 has pushed people more towards health holistically. In addition to physical well-being, after this world-altering pandemic, people are more focused on their emotional and mental happiness. Due to the lockdown people ended up staying put inside homes which in turn resulted in a sedentary lifestyle.”

Sonali says she has seen a positive attitude in most people as the pandemic lingered. “People are now more focused on strengthening their overall health and here we can see a steep rise in virtual workout trends. This pandemic has also heightened the importance of cardiovascular health where Zumba plays an important role in improving not only physical but also mental well-being of people, as everyone aims more of blending of these two aspects of one’s overall health condition.”

Sonali’s words are backed by Reshmi Dhole, who has experienced a sea change in her health, both physical and mental in the past one year and more as she embraced Zumba as an exercise form. “Being obese and a Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) patient, losing weight had been a challenge for me since a long time and when Covid-19 struck, lockdown and the Work-from-home scenario ended up affecting my health even more than ever.”

“Along with a demanding career, my worsening physical health was almost on the verge of breaking me down emotionally and otherwise. In a literal life-saving moment, I chanced upon a particularly fun workout session of Zumba and after a year of working out thrice a week now, it has undoubtedly helped me more than anything ever did. It definitely has made my life better than before”.

A COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUS EFFORT

Sonali believes the conscious efforts to stay fit are here to stay. “One inference that most people have taken from the past two years is that leading a healthy lifestyle is the only way we can possibly have a fighting chance with such life-threatening viruses, of course along with medical treatment as and when required and other age-related aspects aside. So from what I believe, the idea of a fitter, healthier body and mind won’t fade away so easily when the pandemic eventually goes away.”

Reshmi echoes Sonali’s sentiments. “Almost everybody has begun to prioritize healthy eating and a sustainable lifestyle and the reason is obvious, they want immunity from this deadly virus. People are now willingly taking up the responsibility to stay healthy in true sense of its meaning.”

PEDALLING AWAY FOR FITNESS

For Rituparna Saha, the choice was cycling. The Kolkata-based IT professional had never ridden a bicycle before and she decided to change that amid the pandemic. “During the lockdown as the restrictions started to ease up a bit, I took this as a challenge. I didn’t have anywhere to go and was just working from home and as such, partly out of boredom and also in a bid to stay fit, I took this up.”

Rituparna also believes staunchly that the fitness whirlwind is not going to die out soon. “The fact that there is a virus going around and it can alter into deadly or more communicable forms is probably one of the biggest fears that drive people to aim for a fitter all round health so that even if we do contract the virus, it is not able to affect us badly.”

Rituparna also narrated a heartwarming story when she acquired a young friend who also rides the bicycle with her. “A couple months ago, I had already learnt riding back then when this woman, who collects the garbage from our neighbourhood approached me to request that I also teach her 11-year-old daughter to ride. Pinky also rides with me nowadays.”

Keeping up physical health is of paramount importance, but Mrs. Roy also outlines the need to destress in order for the body and mind to be in a semblance to be able to do so. “Deep breathing, relaxation exercise helps bring a rhythm to our breathing. Also one must tell their mind to not ‘catastrophize’ a situation and assume the worst-case scenario. Also, get your daily dose of beauty sleep,” Dr Roy signs off.

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