Expert urges elderly to exercise amid COVID-19 pandemic

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As Turkey has restricted the elderly from leaving their homes as part of measures to stem the spread of coronavirus, a medical expert on Monday urged all aged 65 and older to remain active and exercise regularly at home.

"As a result of the inability to move around and spend energy indoors, there may be some weakness in muscle groups and weight gain. We suggest being active as much as possible at home and exercise regularly," said Prof. Dr. Muhammed Nadir Yalçın from Karabük University Medical School.

Underscoring the need of being active, especially for those aging, Dr. Yalçın told Anadolu Agency that "one must open up windows first thing in the morning, ventilate the house and begin the day with basic exercises."

Exercise and rehabilitation, he added, must be perceived as two separate things.

"One is breathing and the other is musculoskeletal exercise. Breathing exercises are especially important for this illness because older people may have weak respiratory muscles and their lung capacities could be insufficient," the doctor said. "Thus, breathing exercises are very important during the time at home."

Illustrating his point, the medical expert said that that one should take a deep breath in front of an open window for fresh air, hold it for a few seconds, and then breathe out completely. This should be repeated without straining oneself.

Inflating balloons is another basic breathing exercise, Dr. Yalçın added.

"Musculoskeletal system must also work. Unfortunately, our muscle groups are ungrateful to us as we age. There may be some problems in our bone metabolism and our muscles can quickly weaken when we are inactive... There are many simple exercises that one could even do while watching TV," he said.

The professor urged all elderly staying indoors to walk around the house.

He, however, suggested to first remove carpets, doormats, toys or slippers from the floor -- things that could cause them to stumble and fall.

Meanwhile, like other health experts. Dr. Yalçın also stressed on the need for a healthy and balanced diet and refraining from consuming food high in calories, sugar, and carbohydrates.

The virus, officially known as COVID-19, has infected more than 74,000 people in 177 countries and regions since last December. Over 34,000 deaths also have been registered, according to U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

To date, Turkey has recorded 9,217 positive cases and 131 deaths.

Besides restricting the elderly, Ankara has shut malls, cafes restaurants to contain the spread of the virus. Congregational prayers, sports events, and most gatherings also remain suspended.

The most common symptoms of the infection include fever, dry cough, and difficulty in breathing.

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