Thankfully we are still allowed outside during our lockdown;
the same can’t be said over in India with 1.3 Billion people not allowed to
leave their house in complete lockdown.
I have been trying to make the most of the time we are
allowed outside, walking, cycling and running by myself keeping a wide berth
from anyone I pass. It would seem most people are doing the same, I have never
seen so many cyclists and dogs being walked.
While I did not experience large groups, I did see several
people quite close together that I doubt live together. Therefore, I suspect that
the overall number of people outside will lead to a complete lockdown at some
point, certainly in some cities.
Many people have taken their exercise inside, dozens if not
hundreds of YouTube channels are offering online exercise classes which is a marvellous
idea, keeping us fit during these trying times. The Body Coach has proven to be
a particularly popular option with his P.E with Jo videos.
With us in this for the long haul, monitoring your overall health
is a wise idea, and the fitter you are the better your body will cope in the
unfortunate events of catching Covid-19.
High blood pressure is one of the Covid-19 risk factors, it
is also bad for you in general and correlates to an overall lack of fitness.
I think semi-regularly monitoring your blood pressure is a
good idea for everyone, it is cheap and quite easy to do.
I would generally stick to reputable names in this industry,
though it probably doesn’t matter that much if you are relatively healthy in
the first place.
The Omron Basic M2 is very affordable at around £24, it is an upper arm monitor which I find to be the easiest to get consistent results from.
Being a tech blog, it would be remiss for me not to mention
smart health tech. While these devices are a luxury and absolutely not a requirement,
they are good for long term tracking allowing you to see a trend in your blood
pressure. Many of them are designed for multi-users too.
Withings BPM Connect – £89.95 – If you have a Withings scale or sleep mat, then this is a great complementary investment.
Omron X4 – £68.86 – upper arm placement and syncs with your phone
Omron Evolve All-In-One – £98.81
– Upper arm device that syncs with your phone, this is all in one so there are
no long tubes with an arm wrap and device separately. This would be good for
carrying around with you, not that we can do that at the moment.
Braun iCheck 7 – £45.00
– I have reviewed the iCheck 7, it is small and a wrist-based device so
convenient to travel with and do out and about, but I find getting consistent results
from your wrist harder than your upper arm as you need to place the wrist at
heart level. Though this does have a handy built in guide making it easier.
Weight / Scales
Many fitness experts will advise not to worry about your
scales as your weight does not correlate to your fitness and depending on water
retention and previous meals, your weight fluctuates a lot.
That being said, weighing yourself a couple of times a week
is not a bad idea, just to make sure you are not gaining too much weight during
isolation. If you already have a moderately healthy weight, it won’t be the end
of the world to gain a little at the moment, but overweight or obese people
should probably try and limit what they gain as this can and will affect your
A cheap pair of mechanical will work fine, such as the Salter scales for £9.99.
However, again, being a tech blog, I love smart scales, tracking
your weight over the course of months or years is much easier.
Personally, the only brand I would go for is Withings, the cheapest Body just does weight and is quite affordable at £59.95.
The Withings Body+ costs £90 and measures fat, water, and muscle mass via electrical impedance. It is what I use, but electrical impedance for measure fat and muscle is highly inaccurate and not something you should stress about
Finally, there is the Withings Body Cardio this claims to measure your cardiovascular health via pulse wave velocity and heart rate. I have not used it, but I suspect they just measure your cardiovascular health based on the heart rate it picks up.
There are Bluetooth based scales too, which are often quite a bit cheaper, these are OK but you then need to sync your phone to the scale, and I can never be bothered. Withings go everything over Wi-Fi.
Fitness Trackers – Sports watches and step counters
I love fitness watches and the data you get back from them. At the extreme end of the scale is the Garmin Fenix 6 series which will give an unrivalled amount of data but will also cost you over £500.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Honor Band 5, which is just £25 and will track steps, daily calories, sleep and blood oxygen levels. For people casually into fitness or wanting to monitor their activities temporarily during isolation, I can’t think of a better buy.
Alternatively, sitting between the two of those products are
the various sports and smartwatches. All of these monitors sleep as well as
resting heart rate; many also give some insight into stress levels and other
The Apple watch is superb if you have an iPhone, it gives you monthly challenges motivating you to move.
Alternatively, there is the Honor Magic Watch 2 or Huawei Watch GT 2 which look great and offer some excellent fitness tracking. Neither allows you to export your data to Strava, which is a major downside for me.
Garmin also has some superb and more affordable options which are ideal for people getting into running. The Garmin Forerunner 45 is £149.00 or Wiggle has the excellent Garmin Forerunner 245 for £204.99.
Sleep tracking is poor in general, sports watches and smartwatches will track sleep too, so a dedicated sleep device is not always the best buy. I actually found the Honor Band 5 and Huawei GT2 the most accurate devices for sleep tracking.
That being said, if you are going all out on your health monitoring, the Withings Sleep Mat is an excellent sleep tracker that will also monitor for sleep apnoea.
Ok, this is perhaps taking things too far in this scenario, but I am a big fan of semi-regular blood testing to monitor your health markers. I use Medichecks and one of the things you may want to check at the moment is for diabetes which is one of the high-risk factors for Covid-19.
The more expensive and thorough tests require a venous blood sample (from the vein), so I wouldn’t recommend these at the moment unless you have a qualified nurse or doctor in the house. The more affordable choices only require a fingerprick sample which is easy to do yourself.
Baseline Fitness Blood Test – £59.00 – tests your testosterone, liver health, cholesterol and others. Does not test diabetes
Health and Lifestyle Check Blood Test – £49 – General health but not diabetes