A couple weeks ago, I took our son to the pediatrician. Nothing major – some swollen lymph nodes – turned out to be just fine. When our doctor walked into the room though, one of the first things she asked me was how our gym was doing. I didn’t know if she was genuinely concerned for our small business or if she was going to berate me for potentially exposing myself and family to covid, but her next words really surprised me. She looked me dead in the eyes and said, “The most important thing people should be doing right now to protect them from this disease is taking care of their health.”
We went on to talk briefly about covid and its impact on our community and the importance of fighting this disease with exercise and proper nutrition.
Plain and simple – Covid-19 seems to be a disease attacking those who have health problems.
“The high rate of consumption of diets high in saturated fats, sugars, and refined carbohydrates (collectively called Western diet, WD) worldwide, contribute to the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and could place these populations at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 pathology and mortality.” (Butler, M., and Barrientos, R.)
Those living with health concerns such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and even high blood pressure, who also adhere to a typical Western diet, may have a hard time recovering from Covid-19. A poor diet activates the innate immune system and impairs our adaptive immune system which leads to chronic inflammation. Our bodies simply can’t fight against the virus anymore.
And while not all health problems are created equal, SOME of them can be combated with a change in diet and an exercise routine.
“Now more than ever, wider access to healthy foods should be a top priority and individuals should be mindful of healthy eating habits to reduce susceptibility to and long-term complications from COVID-19.” (Butler, M., and Barrientos, R.)
I told our pediatrician that I agreed with her: our country needs a wake up call. We need the media to focus more on improving our nation’s health to fight the virus, instead of politicizing the virus.
“If massive conversations about the importance of dietary choices on the health of our population do not come from this pandemic, we will have lost an incredible opportunity to improve the health of millions of people. This is a wake-up call. I sincerely hope we heed it.” -Paul Saladino, MD
We’ve got to stay physical, folks. One of the many damaging effects of being quarantined inside our houses is our tendencies to become lazy and binge watch tv is uber tempting. And as we are seeing data that shows that the more metabolic healthy a person is – the higher the chance in fighting the disease – now is definitely not the time to get lazy. If any, now is the perfect time to start or even restart a fitness program. And guys – this doesn’t have to be complex. If you can get out and go for a walk, aim for 30 minutes a day. Add a weight vest or a heavy backpack if you are able.
Anything right now is better than nothing, and more is better than less. It is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day and/or at least 20 minutes of vigorous physical activity every other day. And if you’re worried about the safety and cleanliness of gyms, most studies are showing gyms aren’t a major threat – especially when following state-mandated protocols. (See more below on gyms – or move that section up). And if you don’t want to head into a gym, more and more people are choosing to stay home and workout until the threat of the virus subsides. (If you’re in the need for 20-40 min at home workout programming, I’ve been told that mine is the best. <- click click!!)
So it’s time to get healthy and fight back. How??
One way you can fight the virus, even if you do get it, is to be a healthy individual. And don’t worry if you’re not! You can start taking steps right now. As our pediatrician said, there’s no better wake up call than a deadly disease targeting the less healthy.
Things you can do right now:
- As much as you can, eat foods high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Fruits and veggies, lean protein, whole grains. Minimize processed foods as much as you are able.
- Did you know that processed foods high in sugar can ramp up anxiety and moodiness? So can alcohol and caffeine. It’s ok to have some treats, but keep them to a minimum as much as you can.
- Speaking of alcohol and sugar – these do NOT help your gut bacteria, and the links to fighting covid with good gut bacteria are steps we can’t afford to skip. The better your gut health, the likelier you are to protect yourself against coronavirus.
- Do your best to meal plan, food prep, and adhere to schedules and routines. If you have healthy food prepared and ready to go, you’re much more likely to eat it instead of snack on foods that won’t help your health.
- Grocery shop with a mask, a list, hand sanitizer, and get in and out. Don’t forget healthy snacks like veggies and hummus, hard boiled eggs, yogurts, and all the fermented foods that help with good gut bacteria.
- Involve kids in meal planning and prep if you can. Try to give them milk and water to drink and limit sugary sodas, juices, and energy drinks.
- Get outside as much as you can! Vitamin D is found in the SUN!
- Is your gym open? It’s likely that if it is, you’re pretty safe to attend it. Check out the research below on gym-goers and Covid.
Worried about contracting the virus at your gym? Apparently a study done in Norway showed that NO ONE contracted covid after attending a two week trial period at a gym that practiced good hygiene habits and social distancing. (To read more on this study, click here.)
Gyms in Austria and Germany have been reopening since May, and so far, no outbreaks in either country have been linked to healthy clubs.
There may be one caveat to this success though. Places with high rates of covid cases, as well as places where people are less likely to follow restrictions, will not necessarily be as safe.
How are successful clubs keeping members safe?
- Masks are (mostly) required.
- No handshaking or any person-to-person contact.
- One meter (three feet) distancing between each person at all times.
- Two meter distancing (six feet) during high intensity workouts.
- Disinfectants placed at all workout stations.
- Members required to clean equipment after use
- Staff required to do regular facility cleaning
- Staff ensures no overcrowding of facility.
- Locker rooms were open, but showers and saunas closed.
- Lids removed from trash cans.
- Members and staff advised to stay home if ill.
Healthy lifestyle habits help you beat Covid-19.
Exercise, fresh air, and a healthy diet are critical for recovery if one becomes infected. But what’s scary is that if we don’t improve our general health, some people may never truly recover from Covid-19. This disease could lead to a host of chronic medical conditions that could be further exacerbated by unhealthy diets in vulnerable populations.