How to Stay Healthy at Home: Experts Weigh In

Heart health
Health Articles
March 27, 2020

We’ve rounded up some great tips from a nutritionist, a sleep doctor, and a fitness guru for the best ways to stay active and healthy—even if you’re homebound.

Staying home is hard, we know. But in these unpredictable times, it’s necessary. If you’re under lockdown—or even if you’re just staying home to practice social distancing—here are some tips to keep you healthy and active.

Nourish yourself

Right now your main objective shouldn’t be preparing the perfect dish. Getting ingredients can be a challenge, and food is fuel. Then again, you might find you have more time, and with a few staples, condiments, and spices in the cupboard, you can change up even the most boring meal. And cooking at home rather than grabbing on the go can be a healthier and cheaper option for most.

Fiber for the win: when the going gets tough, the tough gets roughage

Nutritionist Katie Lemons says that high-fiber foods should be a staple in your pantry. “Fiber is essential for digestive health,” she says. “Considering a large majority of the immune system is in the gut—some experts report put it at 70%—it’s crucial to reach for gut-friendly foods for an immune system boost.” She recommends canned beans, including chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, as well as quinoa, brown rice, and chia seeds.
Go further: we noticed that Ayr Muir, an MIT-trained material scientist and the founder of Clover food lab, is posting a series of free cooking videos on YouTube including demos on how to cook dried beans, and also how to make Boston baked beans and brown bread.

Health hack: the freezer is your friend

We know, it’s tempting to stock up on snack cakes and candy. But Lemons says you shouldn’t forget to keep your antioxidant levels high and your artificial sugar levels low. “I like to keep spinach, kale, riced cauliflower, frozen berries, and frozen bananas in the freezer for quick smoothies or nourishing vegetable bowls,” she says.

Make it festive: black tie tuna casserole, anyone?

Even if you don’t have an impressive dish, even if you can’t go to the fanciest restaurants (or any restaurant for that matter), you can experience the joy of dining a la “fake it ‘til you make it.” One Withings employee, Flore Schwoerer, said her family was throwing a party on Saturday night. She said, “We’ll wear fancy clothes, enjoy our favorite drinks, and play cards.” I made invitation cards and tickets ‘to get in the living room’ and will give them out around the house.” So, with a little imagination, you can have a rocking party, like a Hawaiian luau with SPAM and canned pineapple, or an Italian festival with spaghetti and ketchup.

Have virtual dinner dates

Even if on your own, schedule a video or audio dinner date with friends and family. Skype and chops, Zoom and zoodles, Hangouts and hash. Maybe have the other person cook the same thing, so you are having the same meal, across the street or across time zones. Remember that you can connect over food, even if not together.

Destress & decompress

Many people feel especially stressed right now. In hospital studies, meditation methods have proven effective against stress, anxiety, and even insomnia and hypertension. We’ve written about the benefits of meditation, and we’ve heard from our friend Penn Jillette, on how taking up meditation helped him.
If you want to get your Zen on right now, Withings offers a meditation program from PetitBamBou (the #1 mindfulness app in Europe) directly in the free Health Mate app. It’s a 21-session program that introduces you to mindfulness techniques. Each bite-sized session or 10-15 minutes is accompanied by videos, guided meditations, and coaching.
The themes of each session include learning where and how to meditate, how to find calm and serenity, and how to learn to listen to your body. To further ease your mind, if you miss a day, you can navigate easily among all the sessions available and revisit the ones you want, whenever you want.

Build yourself up

A body at rest tends to remain at rest. And anyone who must stay in has an even bigger challenge. Maybe you are a gym member bummed you can’t go. Or you play on a team sport that’s been canceled. Or maybe you aren’t active at all. In any event, there’s no doubt that exercise can improve your mood, your strength, and your cardiovascular fitness. Good news is, we live in the golden age of home workouts.

Sarah White: photograph by @mollyjphotography
Sarah White: photograph by @mollyjphotography

We have a new blog post about home body weight workouts, which will introduce you to fitness that requires no equipment. You can explore hundreds of home workouts on YouTube, or you can benefit from a bajillion fitness apps. But even more unique: there are a lot of fitness instructors whose studios and gyms are closed, who’ve gone virtual. Some, like Boston-based fitness instructor Sarah White, pictured, have made all-new options available.
Until very recently, White was teaching in four different studio settings: Core Power Yoga, Equinox, B/spoke, Lululemon’s Newbury St. studio. She was also teaching in-home and corporate wellness, as well as hotel yoga. But when it seemed COVID-19 would be shutting all her venues, she went to stay with family in Florida. She says, “I noticed there’s not a lot of equipment here. So I had the idea: why don’t I just put out on my Instagram story I’m thinking of doing a live class, and what time would be best? Then I asked: would you prefer live classes or a recording? I got more than 300 emails…. That’s when I realized there was a real need and desire for a home workout.”
White says she got 30 recordings together in less than a week. It’s called The Coastal Method Home Workouts and it’s a course you can purchase for $39.95. She says her home workouts “provide you with the flexibility to do the workouts how you want and when you want. No equipment required. You also get PDFs with the exercises, and time intervals in case you don’t want to be watching the video.”
If you want to get a sense of what she does before you buy the course, you can check out her live yoga, cardio and strength training videos on Instagram stories @thecoastalyogi, M-W at 7am, and Friday at 7:30am ET.

Refuel with sleep

W. Chris Winter, MD
W. Chris Winter, MD

Sleep is essential to keep up a healthy immune system. And yet worry, and regular routines going out the window, can wreak havoc on your sleep.
We asked Dr. Chris Winter, MD, author of The Sleep Solution, for his best tips on the sleep challenges many are facing now. He knows this is a hard time because “anxiety and fear are soaring” and it’s “also hard to be so cut off from those that provide us support.” But he has advice on how to solve it. He says:
“In these times, I like for people to focus on controllable factors. Get up on time, even if you have no job to go to. You don’t have to get up at 4am (get your sleep), but have a wake-up time. See this as an opportunity to fill up your sleep tank. Remember, sleep = immunity. Time to exercise. Even after a full day of seeing telemedicine patients, I got in a walk with my wife/dog, 30 minutes of yoga with my daughter, a pull-up challenge with my son, and a run I did on my own. Remember, exercise builds immunity too, and really helps to promote sleep. I know you have all the time in the world to take naps…but don’t.
Use the time to connect with others, get caught up on your reading…make a schedule. Get up, exercise, work, read, chores, education/class, latte, yoga, more work, watch news, movie/Netflix, bed.”

Track your health

If you have access, don’t stop tracking your vitals. It’s important to keep tracking blood pressure, weight, activity, sleep monitoring your temperature, and more. For weight, blood pressure and activity, tracking as a habit brings a routine that can help you make better choices. And for all metrics, it can help health care professionals know where you stand, should you need to consult a doctor. If you have the Health Mate app, your health report is available 24/7 and ready to be shared with doctors, friends and family, or coaches with a few taps.

Take our #StayHomeStayHealthyChallenge

Ready, set…stay! It’s a real challenge to keep active while being stuck at home. But with some imagination and group inspiration, we can find our fitness buzz with our first-ever indoor activity challenge.
During the next 10 days, the goal will be to log at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity in Health Mate. There are tons of indoor activities available, and many more that we are sure you can find. Then share your activity with the community on our Withings Activity Mates Facebook group to inspire others.
Every day, we’ll share our best tips to get you moving at home, and how to manage nutrition, sleep, and even mental health. You’ll also have the opportunity to take part in daily drawing for the chance to win Withings products. Keep an eye on our Facebook group for more details!
Thanks for reading, and we hope these tips help you to stay healthy, even when you’re homebound.