News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

A mandate for physical activity

It’s not surprising to report that physically active people have reported less-severe symptoms of COVID-19. Potentially, physical activity can be protective against severe symptoms, giving a better outlook to COVID-19’s unrelenting grip on our countrymen.

In fact, it’s reported that inactivity is the biggest predictor of how badly the disease will affect a person. According to data from Kaiser Permanente, hospitalization, ICU admission, and death all doubled when the patient was classified as inactive. In accounting for deaths, consistent physical inactivity was the most significant risk factor.

This is a modifiable behavior, just like washing of hands, social distancing, or not gathering in large groups of people. Why are government and medical agencies not encouraging exercise, activity, and recreation as a means to combat COVID-19? Instead, limitations, mandates, and restricting measures seem to be stifling. Being proactive with exercise helps with many different aspects of health and would benefit a great many more of the issues plaguing society at large — in addition to viral complications.

It’s time to lay down a new mandate: Exercise, be active, and build a robust body to protect against the severe complications of this virus. The best suggestions are to exercise in a moderate aerobic conditioning state for 150 minutes a week. Add three strength training activities on top of this. This could be walking at a good clip for 30 minutes a day, or cycling, or even running five times a week. Strength training need not to be complicated: rows, presses, squats, and lunges are some fundamentals, and accessible to anyone with or without equipment.

If exercise is new, appreciate that it will be laborious at first, and get better from there. It should feel more and more worthwhile — and fun — as experience is gained. Getting started, your best ally is consistency. From there, strength training should be increased periodically, and the pace of the cardio will be increased to match the adaptation.

You have to put forth effort. This effort will be rewarded with better health all around. It will be rewarding, building a sense of self reliance.


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