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COVID-19: Keep exercising, fitness experts tell Nigerians

By Ijeoma Ukazu

Since COVID-19 was first reported in Nigeria, and throughout the lockdown period, Nigerians who previously paid little or no attention to their well-being became more fitness minded.

But with gyms and other fitness centres shut the entire time, people looked to online sessions and explored makeshift options to keep to a routine. Experts say that with the right tips, guidelines and a little bit of planning, staying fit is achievable and can be affordable.

Now that life is gradually returning to normal, fitness trainers say that there is a need for Nigerians to sustain their fitness regimes. And according to physical fitness coach, Jennifer Amuzie, keeping to a healthy lifestyle does not have to cost a lot.

Blessing in disguise

According to her, Cardio training, which is basically regular jogging and running, can help burn some fat stored in the body.

“I can categorically state that the COVID-19 is a blessing in disguise because it has shown people the danger they could face if their body is not healthy and it made people who struggle to cultivate the habit of exercising to engage in one,” Amuzie told The Daily Report.

“There was an increase in people’s awareness and participation in fitness and exercise. People became more aware of their health and well-being during the COVID-19 lockdown; people were at home and bored, so there was an increase in body weight as a result. Then, the need to do something to keep their mind and body active was channelled into exercising and taking care of themselves.”

Physical Fitness Coach, Jennifer Amuzie

Amuzie further explained that, there are basically three forms of exercises: cardio, strength training and High-Intensity Interval Training, (HIIT).

“Of these, the most effective is strength training. With strength training you are able to lose weight, build lean or bulk muscles and also increase your strength fitness level which is why I recommend this for my clients who are serious about losing weight.”

Emeka Obinnwanne, who works with a private food company in Lagos, told The Daily Report that he made it mandatory for him to jog or run down his street every morning and evening in a bid to stay fit, a habit he is sustaining even after the lockdown.

Studies have shown that exercising can eliminate depression. Most importantly, it helps the brain, including neural growth, reduced inflammation, and aids feelings of calm and well-being

The Director General, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu and the Federal Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Enahire, have repeatedly called on Nigerians to ensure they keep a clean environment and observe the Covid-19 protocols — regular hand wash; the use of facemask and hand sanitizers; social distancing amongst others — to prevent contracting the disease

Keeping fit, eating cheap

Obinwanne believes that it is much better to observe the widely promoted precautionary measures than standing the risk and complications of going through the process of testing and self-isolating.

“The aspect I fear most is the insertion of the swab through the throat or nostrils required for the test to be done,” he told The Daily Report. I fear it might be painful and discomforting, according to stories available online. For me, there is a need for nutrition sustenance as well as keeping a healthy body weight even after this COVID-19 pandemic.”

Obinnwanne said that for his family to sustain a healthy lifestyle and prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, he buys foodstuff from local market women who get their supplies directly from farmers.

“Times are really hard. It is difficult to maintain a healthy food intake with my earnings. I recently discovered that some Lagosians patronize these market women who buy food items like garri, palm oil, vegetables, pumpkin ‘ugu’, plantain, yams, crayfish directly from farmers, and sell at affordable price. We make sure that we consume the right combination of food to boost our immune system during this lockdown.

“To think that these women do not have shops or kiosks, that they leave their homes as early as 4am to buy these foodstuffs and display them for sale is quite encouraging and shows the hustling spirit of Nigerians in the face of difficulty.”

This story has been made possible with the support of Google’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund (JERF)

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