Unless you’ve been living under the largest rock in human history, you’ll have developed some kind of understanding of and an opinion on 2020’s pandemic. We’ve been hammered with advice for ways to lower your risk of catching COVID (social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face, etc.), but not necessarily how to decrease your risk of having severe complications if you come down with it. In this blog we’re going to go over why Fitness is not only a good thing for people to reduce their risks of complications, but a necessity in the battle against COVID-19.
Lung capacity is how much air you can inhale in a single breath. The healthier your lungs, the more air you can bring in. COVID-19 targets your lungs and can cause you to have complications such as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and sepsis. There are a lot of issues you can face because of these (which you can read about here: What Coronavirus Does to the Lungs | Johns Hopkins Medicine), and one thing is for certain: if you have respiratory issues COVID-19 is a tough virus to face.
Physical exercise increases your lung capacity. By pushing yourself harder than normal, you are forcing your heart and lungs to work harder to supply extra oxygen to your body. The more you do this, the more your heart and lungs get conditioned to supplying your body with extra oxygen. This makes it easier for that oxygen to be supplied to your body at rest as well, and increases the overall efficiency of your cardiorespiratory system.
An added benefit to working out is boosting your immune system. Basically, when you work out, you’re helping your body function more efficiently. This includes increased blood flow, reduced stress and inflammation, strengthens antibodies, and allows immune cells to perform more effectively. We have a blog slated in the next couple of weeks that delves much further into how to boost your immune system, so be on the lookout for that.
COVID-19 and Obesity
Per the CDC, COVID-19 has bigger impacts on people’s health if they are obese. Included is not only an increase in the chance of dying from the disease, but suffering long-term effects from COVID-19. (source: Certain Medical Conditions and Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness | CDC)
People who are obese need to either start or continue on their fitness programs. Even if they aren’t going to lose enough weight to drop out of the ‘obese’ weight range during the pandemic, the increased lung capacity from conditioning workouts will help keep their chances higher of surviving the disease if caught. Keeping them in one place surrounded by a difficult situation (no access to physical training but 24-hour access to unhealthy food) that has contributed to their current weight issues is not very conducive to helping them lower their risk during the pandemic.
Not only is Obesity itself an increased risk factor, but it also can lead to other increased risk factors such as:
Type-2 Diabetes means that your body is more resistant to insulin. It is unfortunately rampant in the USA. Type-2 Diabetes is listed as another pre-existing condition that increases risk with COVID (see source above). Exercise helps your body become less insulin-resistant, therefore decreasing the complications of Type-2 Diabetes.
Another of the issues that is caused with Type-2 Diabetes is blood-glucose level. Having too high of a blood glucose level is rough on your organs and can damage them over time. Damaged organs are in no way beneficial if you find yourself fighting COVID. The good news is there is a way to help your body regulate and bring down high blood glucose levels: Physical Activity.
Another condition listed on the CDC’s list is Heart Disease, which includes a whole range of heart issues such as hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiomyopathies (heart has trouble pumping blood), and coronary artery disease. The heart is the engine that supplies blood to your entire body, and blood is carrying the oxygen your body needs to continue functioning. Having a pre-existing heart condition that makes it more difficult for the body to get the oxygen it needs is not going to do anyone any favors if they catch COVID. If you do any basic research on these heart diseases and conditions (and many others), you will find that physical activity is listed either as a way to help rid yourself of or control the disease.
All in all, we NEED fitness in our lives. Many of the underlying conditions that lead to having increased risk with COVID-19 can be better regulated (if not completely rid of) if a good training program is followed along with a healthy diet. This, of course, will not 100% guarantee that someone will survive COVID or not face long-term health issues, but anything to decrease risk is a good thing. While taking certain measures to avoid catching COVID is good, taking the responsibility of your personal health into your hands will only help.