Pandemics, Viruses & Disease

Sunday, May 24, 2020 - 14:49
Athlete Kristen Jerome

Pandemics, Viruses, Disease

Scary, yes but you can deal your self a better hand.

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These are troubling, scary times we are living in no doubt. There are obviously negatives that we are all learning about ourselves and our fellow humans - not the least of which is our pension to hoard toilet paper when things get ugly.  But when we come out the other side, which we will, there should be a few positive takeaways that help us live better lives going forward not the least of which is just how important our health and fitness is and the fact that we can take care of it from anywhere.

When you look at stories about how fitness helped people survive amazing traumas you see how it can help in times like this.  Seriously some of this stuff is incredible.

Here’s a woman who was run over three times in quick succession: Angie Rodriguez. Doctors told her she lived only because she was fit.

Stephen Walker survived a brain infection, and Anthony Kemp fought off a snake bite.

There’s more: Heart attack, cancer and a host of other medical issues.

I want to be clear: I’m not saying fitness cures disease (but it might) or is a replacement for medical care, social distancing and hand washing.

But I am saying that if anything bad happens, I firmly believe fitter people have a greater chance of survival.

What Science Says

I know some people just don’t like working out or even thinking about it. You will get arguments that demonize fitness as a negative societal element created by diet culture and pressure to look a certain way.

And hell, it’s your life, if you are happier not working out or taking care of your health, that’s your decision.  I just don’t agree with it.

Fitness isn’t a question to me. It isn’t even about aesthetics, either (well not mostly anyway J) . I work out because doing so makes me feel better mentally and physically. And I know that it will give me the best chance of living the life I want for as long as possible and hopefully breaking the century mark on my own two feet.

Fitness provides a host of benefits which I could try to convince you of but I’d rather let science do that. Here’s what we know for certain:

The Mayo Clinic says exercise improves moods, boosts energy, produces better sleep, and supercharges sex.

As if that weren’t enough, “Regular exercise helps prevent or manage many health problems and concerns, including: stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, many types of cancer, arthritis (and) falls.”

That’s an incredible list—with zero negative side effects. None. Pay particular attention to “metabolic syndrome” in the paragraph above. We’ll get to that in a minute.

So if I wanted to give myself the best chance to overcome anything—from an accident to an infection to a bout of the blues and a lack of self-confidence—I’d choose fitness first. How much? About two to five hours a week. And if I wanted to increase my odds further, I’d eat more meat and vegetables and less processed food.

Combined, those two simple steps can be life changing.

Coronavirus and Fitness

Right now, the coronavirus pandemic is causing widespread chaos and hardship. It’s causing sickness, death and financial distress. It’s a global tragedy.

But as doctors and researchers fight the disease, its been interested to read what they’re discovering about fitness.

Again, let me be clear: I am not saying fitness cures or prevents COVID-19. Nor am I saying “I told you so” to any group of people who don’t value fitness.

But if you do work out, you should feel good about that decision. You’ve given yourself the best chance to stay healthy.

From the University of Virginia: “Regular exercise may reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a major cause of death in patients with the COVID-19 virus, a top exercise researcher reports.”

Read: “Exercise May Protect Against Deadly COVID-19 Complication, Research Suggests”

In a European Scientist article, Aseem Malhotra explained that poor public health before COVID-19 is making the effects of the disease worse. His most important point might be that obesity isn’t the only health concern:

“Normal weight metabolically unhealthy (people) have a more than three-fold risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events than those who are normal weight and metabolically healthy. There’s no such thing as a healthy weight, only a healthy person.”

Translation: Eating poorly can mess up your insides even if you don’t appear to be overweight or unhealthy.

 Malhotra’s assertion is that people with metabolic syndrome, regardless of their weight, are more likely to die  from the virus. 

But there’s hope. Just as pollution levels and infection rates are dropping after only about six weeks of social distancing, people can rapidly improve their health and improve their metabolic health by eating better and exercising.

“Given the speed at which health markers for metabolic disease improve from dietary interventions, an equally strong if not more significant population health message should now be to ‘eat real food … and save lives,'” Malhotra wrote.

Read: “COVID-19 and the Elephant in the Room”

Quick Improvements Are Possible

If you’re reading this as a person who works out and eats well, you deserve a virtual high five. You’ve made wise investments in your health, and you’ve set yourself up to get through this tough period.

If you don’t work out or don’t eat very well, its not too late and now’s the time to make a change. And we can help.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen scores of unfit or unhealthy people start working out and eating better. Without exception, those who continue on that plan experience dramatic positive changes. They tell us about the changes—and we can usually see them, too.

But we also have objective measures. We have data that shows healthy people lift more and run faster, and we see them trading body fat for muscle when we scan them with an InBody machine. Beyond that, our clients often share medical results with us, and they show improvements in blood work and other important markers.

Coronavirus is a real concern, and, as our authorities state, prevention is best. For now, that means social distancing and hand washing.

But I’d like to suggest that prevention of disease is always the best plan—pandemic or not. For me, and for our clients, prevention involves non-medical health care in the form of regular exercise and healthy food.

Fitness does not make you invincible. But it does make you harder to kill—of that, I am certain.

Overall, I feel much better knowing that each of our clients will go into any fight healthier than the average person. And they’ll have a much better chance of winning that fight.

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