Falkirk residents need 20 minutes of exercise a day to stay mentally and physically healthy

A world-renowned exercise expert has warned those who think spending the next few weeks and months with their feet up watching daytime telly while obeying Coronavirus restrictions is a good idea to think again.

According to Professor Sebastien Chastin, who teaches Health Behaviour Dynamics at Glasgow Caledonian University, a lack of exercise can be just as harmfully to our mental state as it can be to our physical wellbeing.

Professor Chastin, who has a background in physics, data science and physiotherapy, insists binge watching box sets and nodding off to Netflix all day, every day is the worst thing people can do during these days of social distancing and self isolation, because its addictive, changes your physiology and lowers your mental strength.

He states at least 20 minutes of exercise per day – preferably in the morning – is required to combat this lockdown lethargy.

World health expert Dr Sebastian Chastin PICTURE:PETER DEVLIN

“I know this is a difficult time for us all,” said Professor Chastin. “But there are many ways exercise can help us better cope with the situation. The trick is to exercise 150 minutes per week and it is best done by doing a bit every day.

“Sedentary behaviour, like binge watching television, changes your physiology very quickly and has a negative impact on your health. It is associated with higher mortality rates, and greater risk of cardiovascular and non-communicable diseases.

“So exercising for a minimum of 20 minutes a day will lift your mood massively. It’s probably better in the mornings so your mood is lifted right away. There are plenty of exercises you can do without going to a gym.

“You can do all sorts of exercise while staying at home. That’s the big message. Go out and get fresh air but stay away from other people if you can and exercise on your own.

“There are also millions of videos on YouTube and the internet around about doing exercise at home. Dig out your static bike and use that. Encourage others in your house to exercise with you.

“Make up active games you can play indoors and outside in the garden with the kids or your partner. Even if it is just walking briskly for 20 minutes a day that will do you a hell of a lot of good, strengthen your immune system and just help you cope mentally.”

Late nights can be just as damaging for people in these times.

Professor Chastin said: “A steady sleep pattern is also very important and enables us to keep our natural circadian pattern. Studies from night shift workers and jet lag show keeping a steady circadian pattern is beneficial to health and mental health.”

For those working from home, Professor Chastin advises they should get up every 20 minutes, change position and stand up as much as they can – and do not sit on the couch while working on your laptop.

“Try to move every 20 minutes - stand up, walk around, make yourself a cup of tea, shake yourself up. That simple gesture will help your physiology, your mood without having to do

exercise to start with – that is the bare minimum you should do.

“Don’t sit in front of your computer all day – especially on a couch for extended periods of time – that is probably the worst thing you can do. If you have to work from home ergonomically it would be better for your back and posture if you had a desk and chair.

If you can prop your laptop up on the kitchen counter so you’re not sitting down all day and stand up to keep on working that is even better. Changing position as often as possible is probably the best thing you can do when working from home.”