Authors: Prof Samira Bulcão Carvalho Domingues*, Prof Flávia Porto** and Prof Jonas Lírio Gurgel***
*Master's Degree student, Exercise and Sports Sciences/Institute of Physical Education & Sports/UERJ
When faced with the COVID-19 global pandemic, a reduction in the numbers of people circulating is essential. It’s important to know there are differences between social distancing, isolation, quarantine and total lockdown, however, all of these strategies have one goal in common, which is to contain the speed at which the virus spreads and limit the collapse of health systems. In extended social distancing, those establishments considered to be non-essential are closed to avoid the gathering together of people, while in selective social distancing, people belonging to at-risk groups, especially the elderly, are encouraged to stay at home. In isolation, sick people (with suspected or confirmed disease) are separated from the non-sick, whether in a domestic or hospital environment. Quarantine is carried out by those people who have come into contact with or are suspected of having come into contact with the virus and, even if not presenting symptoms, they are isolated from others. When none of these measures work, a total lockdown is declared, like a community quarantine.
Although essential, staying at home involves a radical change in the habits of a population, which may harm health in some way. Within the context of epidemiological normality, work, academic and leisure activities require a variety of effort that, taken together, maintain the minimum level of daily physical activity necessary for health, especially for sedentary individuals. An immediate interruption of these activities has a negative impact on the cardiorespiratory and muscle systems, responsible for maintaining functional capacity. This, in turn, is directly related to quality of life and the development of comorbidities.
Similarly, and at the same time, physically active individuals are compelled to abruptly interrupt their exercise routines during this period. The damage caused by this halt in training includes losses in muscle strength and mass, aerobic capacity, and joint flexibility and mobility, in addition to alterations in body composition. The change from a physically active to sedentary life can affect important variables for health maintenance, including blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
It is therefore advisable to use countermeasure strategies to combat the disuse. One of these is the practice of exercise - known to be the best non-drug health promotion strategy. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has already taken a position on the importance of staying physically active during isolation. The weekly recommendation for asymptomatic individuals is 150 to 300 minutes of aerobic exercise, plus two strength training sessions. One could, for example, do 5 workouts a week of 30 to 60 minutes, adding muscle strengthening exercises to two of them. The intensity should be moderate, as very light stimuli may not promote benefits, while very high intensities are associated with impaired immunity.
Although many people doubt the feasibility and efficiency of home training, the literature shows that results similar to those obtained in traditional gyms can be achieved by using one's own bodyweight as a load. Routines can include exercises based on calisthenics, both in aerobic (stationary running, climbing stairs, jumping jacks) and strength (squats, push-ups, planks) training. Accessible materials can help: elastic bands, skipping ropes, and even household items to increase the workload (water bottles, backpacks with books, bags with groceries).
Training at home, although proven to be easy, affordable and efficient, can be difficult to adhere to on a larger scale. The motivational aspect is certainly one that can suffer, as a large part of the population is sedentary and is not in the habit of exercising; therefore, the absence of commitment to a time and place for training increases the chances of giving up. Another difficulty is in adjusting the intensity and volume of training, especially for individuals with low levels of physical fitness, which can lead to the occurrence of musculoskeletal injuries. Knowing how to do each exercise and how much is essential for the desired positive result, which highlights the importance of professional guidance, because the assumption that "doing anything is better than doing nothing" does not apply to training.
Tele-assistance is a reality that is already being used in the health area; and it should also be explored for the prescription of exercise. The options for interaction are varied and can serve the needs of diverse populations. From individual video calls to virtual group meetings, and guidance by messaging apps, the virtual presence of a professional can contribute to both an increase in the motivation of practitioners, and to ensuring that each individual receives the appropriate dose-response exercise.
From Space to COVID-19: what can we learn? We can learn that exercise remains a valid countermeasure to the effects of disuse (as proven by research involving astronauts onboard the International Space Station), that Telehealth can be used in different ways to make practice safer through professional guidance, and that obstacles to training can be similar, especially when there is a drastic change in routine, which alters people's mood.
At the present moment, when the home has become a fortress against the virus and the importance of having good health is latent, we hope the practice of guided physical activity at home can be recognised as a way to alleviate the adversities of this very difficult scenario in which the world finds itself.
Authors: Prof Samira Bulcão Carvalho Domingues*, Prof Flávia Porto** and Prof Jonas Lírio Gurgel***
*Master's Degree student, Exercise and Sports Sciences/Institute of Physical Education & Sports/UERJ
Diante da pandemia mundial de COVID-19, diminuir a circulação das pessoas é algo essencial. É importante saber que existe diferença entre distanciamento, isolamento social, quarentena e bloqueio total, porém, todas essas estratégias têm o objetivo comum de conter a velocidade de propagação do vírus e evitar o colapso dos sistemas de saúde. No distanciamento social ampliado, estabelecimentos considerados não essenciais são fechados para evitar aglomerações, enquanto que, no distanciamento social seletivo, pessoas pertencentes a grupos de risco, em especial, idosos, são estimuladas a ficar em casa. Já no isolamento, pessoas doentes (com suspeita ou confirmação da doença) são separadas das não doentes, seja em ambiente doméstico ou hospitalar. A quarentena é realizada por pessoas que tiveram contato ou suspeito de contato com o vírus e, mesmo não apresentando sintomas, ficam isoladas das demais. Quando nenhuma dessas medidas funciona, finalmente, é decretado o bloqueio total, como uma quarentena comunitária.
Apesar de imprescindível, a permanência em casa implica em uma mudança radical nos hábitos da população, o que pode prejudicar, de alguma forma, a saúde. Em um contexto de normalidade epidemiológica, atividades laborais, acadêmicas e de lazer solicitam esforços variados que, somados, mantêm o nível mínimo de atividade física diária necessário para a saúde, especialmente de indivíduos sedentários. A interrupção imediata dessas atividades impacta negativamente os sistemas cardiorrespiratório e muscular, responsáveis pela manutenção da capacidade funcional. Esta, por sua vez, está diretamente relacionada à qualidade de vida e ao desenvolvimento de comorbidades.
Da mesma maneira, no momento, indivíduos fisicamente ativos precisaram interromper bruscamente suas rotinas de exercícios neste período. Os prejuízos do destreinamento incluem perdas sobre força e massa musculares, capacidade aeróbia, flexibilidade e mobilidade articular, além de alterações na composição corporal. A mudança de uma vida fisicamente ativa para o sedentarismo pode impactar variáveis importantes para a manutenção da saúde, entre elas, pressão arterial, glicose sanguínea e taxas de colesterol.
Assim, é oportuno lançar mão de estratégias de contramedida ao desuso. Uma delas é a prática de exercícios - sabidamente a melhor estratégia não-medicamentosa de promoção da saúde. O Colégio Americano de Medicina Esportiva (ACSM) já se posicionou quanto à importância de se manter fisicamente ativo durante o isolamento. A recomendação semanal, para indivíduos assintomáticos, é de 150 a 300 minutos de exercícios aeróbios, além de duas sessões de treinamento de força. Pode-se, por exemplo, realizar 5 treinos semanais de 30 a 60 minutos e, em dois deles, acrescentar exercícios de fortalecimento muscular. A intensidade deve ser moderada, pois estímulos muito leves podem não promover benefícios, e intensidades muito altas estão associadas a prejuízos à imunidade.
Apesar de muitos ainda desconfiarem da viabilidade e eficiência dos treinos em casa, a literatura demonstra que se pode conseguir resultados semelhantes àqueles obtidos em academias tradicionais usando-se como carga o próprio peso corporal. As rotinas podem conter exercícios baseados na calistenia, tanto no treinamento aeróbio (corrida estacionária, subir escadas, polichinelos) quanto de força (agachamento, flexão, prancha). Materiais acessíveis podem auxiliar: faixas elásticas, cordas de pular, e até itens domiciliares para sobrecarga (garrafas de água, mochilas com livros, sacolas com mantimentos).
Embora comprovadamente fácil, acessível e eficiente, o treino em casa pode ter dificuldade de adesão em larga escala. O aspecto motivacional é, certamente, um deles, já que grande parte da população é sedentária e não tem na prática de exercícios um hábito; logo, a ausência do compromisso de horário e local aumenta as chances de desistência. Outra dificuldade está no ajuste da intensidade e volume do treino, especialmente para indivíduos com baixo nível de aptidão física, podendo levar à ocorrência de lesões musculoesqueléticas. Saber quanto e como fazer cada exercício é essencial para o resultado almejado, o que ressalta a importância da orientação profissional, pois a premissa “fazer qualquer coisa é melhor que fazer nada” não se aplica ao treinamento.
O teleatendimento é uma realidade que já vem sendo utilizada na área da saúde; e deve ser explorada, também, para a prescrição de exercícios. As opções de interação são variadas e podem atender a diversas populações. Desde chamada de vídeo individuais, reuniões virtuais em grupo, até orientações por aplicativos de mensagens, a presença virtual do profissional pode contribuir tanto para aumentar a motivação dos praticantes, como para garantir que cada público receberá a dose-resposta adequada de exercício.
From the Space to the COVID 19: what can we learn? Podemos aprender que o exercício continua sendo um válido método de contramedida aos efeitos do desuso (como comprovado por pesquisas realizadas por astronautas a bordo da Estação Espacial Internacional), que a telessaúde pode ser usada de diferentes formas a fim de tornar a prática mais segura através de orientação profissional, que os obstáculos à realização dos treinamentos podem ser similares sobretudo pela mudança drástica da rotina, que altera o humor das pessoas.
Neste momento em que a casa se tornou uma fortaleza contra o vírus e que a importância de se ter uma boa saúde é latente, esperamos que a prática de atividade física domiciliar orientada possa ser reconhecida como forma de amenizar as adversidades deste cenário tão difícil.
We welcome guest blogger Christine this week, writing about the popular sport of skiing, which can take place in extreme environments, with below-zero freezing temperatures, avalanche risk, altitude and unpredictable conditions, in addition to the inherent dangers linked to hurtling down a snowy slope at speed.
Founder of TheSkiGirl.com, a blog created after her experiences learning how to ski. Her goal is to provide skiers with the resources they’ll need to improve their skiing abilities and enjoy all that this amazing winter sport has to offer.
Skiing is an exciting and thrilling pursuit that is loved by many adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies around the world. High speeds, steep slopes, and a genuine connection to the natural world are some of the many reasons why this winter sport is loved by so many people. But many of the same factors that make skiing so amazing, also create inherent risks. Let’s take a look at the dangers of professional skiing and how to avoid them here.
One of the most common risks associated with skiing is bodily injury. The high speeds involved with the sport alongside natural and manmade obstacles make injuries an everyday occurrence on the ski slopes. No matter how skilled you are or how cautious you ski, the risk of injury is present anytime you head downhill.
According to research by Kevin G Shea et al. (2014), knee injuries account for approximately one third of injuries in skiers. This makes sense as you have two long planks attached to your feet when you are skiing - a bad wipe-out, wrong turn, or hard impact can put a tremendous amount of strain on your knees. Knee sprains, ligament tears, and even dislocations can occur when skiing.
Upper body injuries can also occur when skiing such as dislocated shoulders, broken collarbones, and sprained wrists. One of the most dangerous and worrisome things that can happen on the slopes is a head injury. This can be very serious and even result in death so it’s important to always (and I mean always!) wear a helmet when you are out skiing.
Sadly, actress Natasha Richardson (wife of Liam Neeson) was not wearing a helmet in 2009, when she suffered a seemingly innocuous fall while skiing on a beginner's slope on Mont Tremblant, Quebec, subsequently collapsing and dying from a blunt force trauma injury to the brain.
HOW TO AVOID BODILY INJURY WHEN SKIING
● Always ski in control. Many injuries occur when you ski too fast or beyond your ability levels. When you get in over your head, accidents occur much more frequently. Play it safe and stay at a good speed at all times.
● Wear a helmet. This is a must. A helmet can very literally save your life and is easy protection against one of the biggest dangers when skiing.
● Stay alert. This means you should always keep an eye out for other skiers around you as well as any other obstacles. Make sure you scout any jumps or obstacles before you ski off of them. Watch for any other people below you as well.
● Get in Shape. Many skiing injuries occur due to being in poor physical condition. Approach skiing as you would any other physically demanding activity. Exercise and strength training before stepping foot on the snow to limit your chances for non-accidental injury.
Skiing is a wintertime activity. That means that cold temperatures and large amounts of snow can be your best friend in terms of great snow and a long season. But these same elements can be dangerous as well. If you are not properly protected from the cold and snow you can risk putting your body, and even your life, in harm’s way.
Any exposed skin you have while skiing can lead to frostbite. This is a serious and dangerous skin condition that can be really painful and even lead to potential amputation. Cold and wet weather can also cause hypothermia, which can be a life-threatening condition that causes your body to shut down when it gets too cold.
There are 3 stages of frostbite: Early stage (frostnip), superficial frostbite, and deep frostbite, most commonly affecting extremities, like fingers, toes, ears and the nose. Prolonged exposure to extreme cold can often lead to deep frostbite, involving all skin layers and requiring amputation of affected areas in severe cases.
HOW TO AVOID COLD EXPOSURE WHEN SKIING
● Wear proper warm weather clothing/gear. You need to insulate your body against the cold and wearing the proper clothing is key here. Always wear gloves to cover your fingers. Properly layer your clothing to provide additional warmth and protection.
● Stay Dry. Another critical aspect of keeping your body warm and limiting cold exposure is keeping your body dry. Always wear waterproof ski pants and jackets to repel snow and moisture and keep your internal layers dry.
● Go inside when needed. If you’re feeling really cold, the best thing you can do is find a warm place, such as a ski lodge or other indoor location, to warm up.
Skiing is full of natural dangers as well. Obstacles such as trees can cause severe injury and be really dangerous. But Avalanches are also a concern, especially if you are skiing in the backcountry. These giant snow slides account for 20-40 deaths a year in North America and can be truly terrifying for any skier who has seen one or knows the danger they pose. Avalanches are nothing to take lightly and proper education and knowledge is key to avoiding them.
HOW TO AVOID AVALANCHES WHEN SKIING
● Educate yourself. One of the best ways to avoid avalanches and limit your potential danger is to be aware of certain conditions that cause avalanches and learn how to identify and avoid them.
● Play it safe. It’s always better to play it safe than to risk getting caught in a slide. If conditions look sketchy, don’t ski. It’s as simple as that. One good run is not worth your life.
Skiing is a dangerous activity. There is no way around that. But you can limit the dangers and avoid potential risks by following the highly recommended tips found above. Have you ever been injured while skiing? Do you think it could have been prevented? Let us know - visit our site!
Authors: Prof Flávia Porto*, Prof Nádia Souza Lima da Silva* and Prof Jonas Lírio Gurgel**
*Institute of Physical Education and Sports, State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ)
There are few known coping strategies for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), but social isolation stands out. While this provides an effective way to reduce the spread of the virus, it also brings a range of problems for individuals and families, especially the elderly, such as limiting their in-person participation in health promotion programs. In a society highly connected through the Internet, a large number of seniors form part of the group that is digitally excluded, showing greater resistance to the use of digital technology tools.
The current situation has imposed changes in our behaviour, serving as a catalyst for alterations in everyone's habits and leading to increased use of digital tools in order to mitigate social distancing. In this context, it is essential for health maintenance that physical exercise programs are continued during social isolation, particularly so for the elderly population, and should be part of public policy.
Given this scenario, telehealth resurfaces as an instrument for health promotion and prevention, which are even more essential in the current situation. The strategy of using digital tools, like videos and web conferencing, enables continuity in physical exercise health promotion programs, which are essential to overcome the disuse imposed by confinement. In this sense, we would like to share our experience of using telehealth for the continuity of the program Elderly in Movement: Maintaining Autonomy (IMMA).
How did IMMA come about?
On October 17, 1989, Professor Dr. Alfredo Gomes Faria Júnior (22/08/1937 - 11/06/2019), Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Porto, created the IMMA Project, which offers regular and free physical activities and assessments to people over 60 years of age, at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Brazil. It was a little early at that time to be thinking about the ageing process experienced by retired people in our country. The Brazilian demographic pyramid and entire socioeconomic context back then showed that caring for older people "was not important”.
Times have changed and scientific evolution and world society has proven that longevity can (and should) be accompanied by more autonomy and quality of life for the individual. The creation of the IMMA was one of the historical milestones in Brazil, disrupting the thinking about health promotion for the elderly, predicting that, yes, these people would retire, but they would still be a part of society and, therefore, should be included.
With a great chronological leap, IMMA continues to innovate and try to include the elderly in a society that is once again discussing the importance of older people in the composition of our community. When Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro proposes vertical isolation, i.e., the elderly remain at home without contact with younger members, who can continue generating the necessary wealth for the country; and when recent speeches by the new Minister of Health suggest that if faced with a choice between saving an elderly person or an adolescent, priority should be given to the young for economic reasons, it is time to return to defending the portion of the population that is most vulnerable.
The IMMA in current times
This new coronavirus has left us living in a time of crisis and local authorities are asking us to remain isolated at home whenever possible, and for this reason, activities at the UERJ have been suspended. Nonetheless, given this scenario and considering the importance of its students remaining physically active, the IMMA decided to continue functioning. In an innovative way, physical activities always guided in person, in addition to "live" hugs and greetings, gave space for a greater exchange of messages via WhatsApp.
The IMMA team's major concern was to minimise the functional losses that physical inactivity could cause in the elderly, both from a cognitive and physical point of view. Therefore, daily cognitive games were initially proposed, giving the team the necessary time to set up the training routines to be performed at home by the elderly. Participation was immediate, interaction was great, and everyone’s mood lifted in these times of uncertainty. Good-humoured reports and thanks also came from family members of the participating elderly.
After the round of cognitive games came the first physical exercise classes, which were joined by parents of the Physical Education students, members of the IMMA team, who served as models in their videos and instructional photos (as a university project, it is worth mentioning that the IMMA serves as a field of pedagogical activity for Physical Education academics at UERJ). The adherence of participants was inspiring, especially as the elderly began to send videos and photos of their individual routines.
Finally, in these confusing and difficult times, the IMMA continues to maintain its social commitment, innovating, stimulating and contributing to the health and quality of life of its users, demonstrating that we can unite, even at a distance, to combat the adverse effects of confinement.
Authors: Prof Flávia Porto*, Prof Nádia Souza Lima da Silva* and Prof Jonas Lírio Gurgel**
*Instituto de Educação Física e Desportos, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ)
A pandemia do coronavírus (COVID-19) nos impõe poucas estratégias de enfrentamento, das quais se destaca o isolamento social. Se por um lado tal medida proporciona uma eficaz forma para reduzir a proliferação do vírus, por outro, traz uma gama de problemas para os indivíduos e para as famílias, em especial para os idosos, como limitá-los a participarem presencialmente de programas de promoção da saúde. Em uma sociedade altamente conectada, através da internet, boa parte dos idosos ainda compõe o grupo dos excluídos digitais, apresentando uma maior resistência ao uso de ferramentas de tecnologia digital.
A atual conjuntura vem impondo mudanças em nosso comportamento, servindo de catalisador para modificações dos hábitos de todos, levando-nos a aumentar o uso de ferramentas digitais de modo a mitigar o distanciamento social. Neste contexto, formas visando a continuidade de programas de exercícios físicos durante o isolamento social, principalmente para a população idosa, são essenciais para a manutenção da saúde, devendo fazer parte das políticas públicas.
Diante desse quadro, a telessaúde ressurge como mais uma ferramenta de promoção e prevenção da saúde, as quais são ainda mais essenciais na atual conjuntura. A estratégia de utilizar ferramentas digitais, como vídeos e webconferência, possibilita a continuidade dos programas de promoção da saúde através do exercício físico, que são essenciais para superar o desuso imposto pelo confinamento. Neste sentido, gostaríamos de dividir nossa experiência com o uso da telessaúde para a continuidade do programa Idosos em Movimento: Mantendo a Autonomia (IMMA).
InnovaSpace is pleased to welcome Dr Stijn Thoolen to tell us more about life at the Concordia Research Station in the Antarctic, an extreme environment where temperatures can fall below −80 °C (−112 °F) in the winter months. As an ESA-sponsored medical research doctor, Stijn will remain at the Franco-Italian research station for 13 months - definitely not an activity for the faint hearted!
Dr Stijn Thoolen
Medical Research Doctor, Concordia Research Station, Antarctica
75 ° 05’59 “S; 123 ° 19’56” E.
I will spend 13 months of my life at these coordinates from November onwards. Far away from my girlfriend, my family and friends, from everything that I know and have loved for the past 28 years. A small 1700 km away from the South Pole, situated on a 3270-high ice sheet, with 40% less oxygen than at sea level (the atmosphere is thinner at the poles), a humidity lower than in the Sahara, average temperatures of –30°C in summer and –65°C in winter, four months without any ray of sunshine (is this lunchtime, or should I go to bed already?) and without possibility of evacuation for nine months, the Franco-Italian research station Concordia on Dome C in Antarctica sounds more like a base on another planet. Every year the European Space Agency sends a ‘hivernaut’ (a winter version of an astronaut?) to this abandoned outpost at the bottom of our globe to perform biomedical experiments on the crew, in preparation for missions to the Moon, Mars and who knows what’s next. This year it’s my turn, and those 13 months are starting to get awfully close…
I hear you ask: why (…would you do that for God’s sake)?
“In our history it was some horde of furry little mammals who hid from the dinosaurs, colonized the treetops and later scampered down to domesticate fire, invent writing, construct observatories and launch space vehicles” – Carl Sagan
I sometimes ask myself that question as well, but you can imagine that the answer is as obvious as the undertaking itself.
Maybe we should start with a short self-evaluation:
Self-evaluation is not something we often do. At least, I was never good at it. When everything goes according to plan, and everyone around you screams how wonderful it is that “little Stijn wants to become a surgeon!”, you aren’t really encouraged to take a critical look at yourself, right? But sometimes a shock (or two) helps to adjust a bit. A lesson in humility perhaps.
For me, that first shock came about five years ago. I had said “yes” a little too much, a good friend died, my parents divorced, and with about ten suitcases of mental luggage I left for a research internship in Boston, USA, during my medical studies. In such a new environment, full with material to reflect on, things became a little more relative. I realised that nothing is as obvious as it seems, that some things might actually be bigger than us (the Universe, God, the flying spaghetti monster, you choose), and, even better, how beautiful and special it is that we are able to witness all that (I know this sounds dull, but I dare you to try with your eyes fixed on a bright, starry sky).
Mindfulness is a relatively recent subject area in the field of mental health and scientific study. So, what defines Mindfulness? It is the name given to the mind's ability to pay attention to its own functioning, also being the name given to techniques that enable improvement in this capacity, resulting in better management of cognitive and emotional content. In a way, it is possible to say that Mindfulness enables a better interface between the person and their present experience. In this context, Mindfulness may have much to contribute to the world in which we now find ourselves – in quarantine, social isolation, confinement and plunged into uncertainty.
In addition to contemporary techniques, or rather, prior to current techniques and paradigms, a great source of knowledge for Mindfulness can be found in the contemplative practices of the Buddhist tradition, among others. This intersection is still a sensitive topic today, partly due to the way science harnesses this knowledge from cultures that seem so distant from our modern world.
Nonetheless, studies "prove" that many of these traditional practices are associated with great benefits. More than an apology for traditional means, or a comparison between the traditional and scientific, we seek here to find inspiration in this broad and varied tradition – Buddhism - (which, incidentally, has countless developments and different techniques originating from the various countries to which it was taken). Therefore, it seems worthwhile to remember two important aspects emphasised in the Buddhist tradition: Renunciation - giving up the excess of stimuli that leads to confusion; and Retreat - which is the practice of renunciation taken to the next level. Withdrawing means choosing to live in a restricted social environment and to have fewer activities in order to cultivate greater attention and have a larger commitment to practices that, scientifically, can be classified as Mindfulness.
The reason for this is simple: if we have fewer factors disturbing our mind, we can observe the mind itself more efficiently. Similarly, to playing a sport or using a tool, the more time we dedicate to it with as little distraction as possible, the better the results are, thus, when focused on knowing our mind we tend to progress in learning about our cognitive and emotional processes.
One of the most important factors determining quality and progress in Mindfulness is the teacher and the instructions received. Therefore, it is essential to choose well. In my case, as the author of this text and an instructor in Mindfulness, I undertook my training with professors Tamara Russell and Tiago Tatton. As an admirer of Buddhism, I visit two centres near my hometown of Porto Alegre, one a traditional Tibetan Buddhist temple called Chagdud Gonpa, and the other a CEBB Bodhisattva Center for Buddhist Studies - which gave me my first contact with the subject. I leave these references here that I had and have, because it is thanks to them that I achieved any benefit.
Returning to the present moment, the world has been forced to stop and reflect. Unlike a voluntary retreat, no one has chosen to be in this situation, yet this is the circumstance that presents itself: a great challenge from a cognitive and emotional viewpoint. We are living in a time of uncertainty about the future and our ability to remain calm and pay attention to our actions is crucial in this dynamic context. Perhaps, in this way, we will have conditions - albeit somewhat troubled - for the practice of Mindfulness, which can bring immense benefits at this time, such as greater tranquillity and concentration. After all, regardless of the situation we face, our contact with reality takes place through the mind, and this can be worked on in order to reduce suffering and make better decisions.
As for specific techniques, there is an infinity and each person will connect more with one than the other - the most classic being the focus on breathing and maintaining the body relaxed in an upright posture. However, nothing replaces the help and guidance a teacher can provide, whether in a secular or traditional context. Therefore, the need to choose a reliable teacher and to not become discouraged in practice is once again highlighted. Because, just like someone who learns a sport or starts playing an instrument, we may feel some discomfort or be out of tune at first, but that is part of learning. A teacher can direct us to more efficient ways to learn and minimise mistakes.
One can only imagine the possibilities generated by the practice of Mindfulness in space, having one less important stimulus - gravity. It is interesting to think what postures and techniques would be possible. This is a field that still needs study and research. But I think it can be assumed that, just as on Earth, the practice of Mindfulness can help in the well-being and concentration of socially isolated individuals floating in a dynamic environment.
May this text contribute to helping reduce the suffering and confusion in which we live. This transitional phase brings chaos and crisis, but it can also bring knowledge.
Prof. K. Ganapathy
InnovaSpace Advisory Board member, Past President Telemedicine Society of India, Former Secretary/Past President Neurological Society of India & Indian Society for Stereotactic & Functional Neurosurgery, Emeritus Professor Tamilnadu Dr MGR Medical University, Former Adjunct Professor IIT Madras & Anna University Madras, Founder Director, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation & Apollo Tele Health.
Could Telehealth be the way forward in helping to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in India?