MA Jalil Khan is an advocate. On regular days, his schedule is packed from running from the court to the chamber to his home. He did not realise the severity of the situation when suddenly a nationwide shutdown to contain the spread of the virus was imposed. He thought it could be a good time to stay home and relax for some days.
However, being an arthritis patient, his bliss soon turned into misery as the shutdown was extended and he found himself in a couple predicaments.
Devoid of regular movement, his arthritic pain flared more than usual. To make things worse, the 65-year-old man found out that his medicines have become scarce and more expensive.
A large number of people like Jalil Khan are stuck home and either sitting idle or working doing home office. Their activity levels have suddenly decreased and some are leading a completely sedentary lifestyle for weeks which, in many cases, are intensifying their health issues.
Health experts suggest that a sedentary lifestyle can trigger other diseases in patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol or fatty liver. It can worsen the situation for cardiac and diabetic patients and weight gain can become another health issue.
Sedentary life affecting people with health issues
Mahmudur Rahman (70) and his wife Tajrin (60) have faced similar issues. The elderly couple is diabetic and has retired from work. As they already have less work, they used to go for a walk in the evenings for an hour.
This would freshen up their minds and help them keep their sugar levels in check. But the shutdown hampered their routines. In addition, their anxiety level has amplified and as a result, their diabetes started spiraling out of control.
The doctors suggested they stay indoors unless a case of emergency arose. They were also suggested to tread inside the house, balcony or on the rooftop as much as possible. But they are failing to follow the advice.
"Walking on the road is spiritual. I felt suffocated when I walked inside my house," Mahmudur said.
Younger people are not exempt
The stay-at-home lifestyle is not affecting the elderly only. Many young citizens are also falling victim to this new lifestyle.
Marjan (alias) is a young private service holder. She was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome, popularly known as PCOS, last year. Moreover, her younger brother - a university student - was diagnosed with fatty liver just six months ago.
Both of them were prescribed to lose some weight, so they started going to the gym. But the gyms have remained closed due to Covid-19 and they have been spending idle time at home, which they think can be injurious to their health.
Primary solutions to the problems
This correspondent spoke to a few health experts about the health hazards inflicted by such lifestyle. The experts have come up with a few solutions that can help people deal with this situation.
SM Ahmed Abed, a Phase B Resident of department of Rheumatology of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital (BSMMU), said, "Though this sudden change may not cause any major ailment for those with good health, but it can be a matter of concern for those who were already suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or spondylitis." He added that a sedentary lifestyle in general is perilous for the bones.
"Those who are working from home can face non-specific or mechanical back and neck pain due to incorrect posture," the doctor said.
However, It can be dealt by staying active. Moving around for half an hour to an hour everyday can reduce the chances of contracting bone pain. Practicing yoga can help as well.
Preferring anonymity, a cardiologist said that sedentary lifestyle can be precarious for cardiac patients. "Limited to no movement increases the risk of cholesterol level to increase and disrupt blood circulation of the heart. It can cause a heart attack," the doctor said, adding that living in uncertain times has fuelled tension among people which can contribute to increasing the chances of heart attacks in the future.
Md Shafiul Alam, senior medical officer of BIRDEM General Hospital suggested people to prepare themselves mentally to accept the present situation as no one knows for how long it may last.
"We can consult doctors over the phone. Contact dieticians for a healthy diet chart and, of course, start doing free hand exercise to feel better. Exercise helps everyone, especially those suffering from diabetes, fatty liver or high cholesterol," he suggested.
Lazina Akhter Liza, the owner and yoga trainer at Lifestyle Yoga, thinks that although exercising is highly recommended for everyone, it also requires some cautionary measures.
"It is important to know one's limits. People should follow doctors' and therapists' instructions if there are any before doing physically intensive workouts," she said.
Explaining further, she said, "Warming up before exercise is crucial. They do not overexert themselves in the process."