Dev Mishra, M.D.
President, Sideline Sports Doc
Medical Director, Apeiron Life
Fellow, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Institute For Joint Restoration, Menlo Park, CA
January 26, 2021
- There is increasing evidence that Covid induced restrictions on school and work are worsening Americans’ already poor levels of physical activity
- The good news is that even tiny amounts of movement- as small as 5 minutes every hour – can have positive health benefits, especially for people who were already inactive pre-Covid
I’ve written previously about inactivity and underuse in teenagers during Covid restrictions, and additional evidence is emerging that inactivity has increased amongst all age groups.
That’s not particularly surprising given the rise in virtual learning, work-from-home, and stay-at-home health mandates in some municipalities. But preliminary studies in adults shows the extent of the activity decline is worse than expected.
There’s now evidence across all age groups that people are becoming far less active, and with that inactivity comes a wide range of negative effects on health. Each of us needs to make efforts to get up and move to promote health during Covid restrictions. The good news: even tiny amounts of added movement can have positive effects on your health.
New Data Shows Activity Decline Is Worse Than Expected
Survey research shared on Cambridge Open Engage reported previously active Americans reduced their physical activity (PA) and increased their screen time (ST) by an average of 32% and 38%, respectively. People classified as physically inactive became even more sedentary, increasing their time sitting and ST an average of 16% and 25%, respectively.
I wasn’t surprised to see that previously active people are far less active, but the surprising data showed that previously inactive people became even more inactive. So you go from couch potato, to what?
Can You Get Up And Move For 5 Minutes Every Hour?
The problem is that persistent physical inactivity and sedentary behavior are associated with poor physical and mental health. During Covid, you want to make sure your physical health and immune system are as good as they can be, to help you avoid getting the virus. Perhaps more importantly, if you’re unlucky enough to get infected with coronavirus a healthy immune system and body will help your recovery.
Recognizing that many of the restrictions we’re dealing with now are here to stay for several more months, organizations such as The American College of Sports Medicine now recommend starting with tiny increments of movement. Even 5 minutes of movement every hour can have positive effects on your body.
Can you spare 5 small minutes every hour if it means your body will be better off for it?
My advice: set an alarm for 55 minutes and get up and move when the alarm goes off. Stand up, walk around, just move and do something. Try to start small and create a habit you can build on.