As I write this, the Coronavirus pandemic has been circulating through the United States for many weeks. For the first time in my lifetime, the government has ordered everyone to stay home and shelves are bare where paper products like toilet paper and paper towels were always abundant. With talk of re-opening the country, this emergency crisis seems to be getting under control. Although the virus is producing casualties, it seems we may have dodged a bullet as to what its full potential could have been.
So I was thinking, what could happen next? What if this virus, or something more severe, gets out of control in the future? For me personally, I hate running out of things I know I am always going to use. I am always stocked up on bottled water and paper products. Especially whenever these things go on sale, I always maintain a large stock. But apart from these obvious steps to take, what else can we do to prepare for the next pandemic?
When a disease infects a person’s body, it affects their health in a negative way. In the case of the Coronavirus, designated SARS-CoV-2, it enters the body and begins replicating itself. This replication damages the cells in the lungs and causes the disease Covid-19. What was discovered was that people with underlying health conditions such as lung problems and heart issues were at serious risk of complications from this disease. What was also discovered was that people who are obese or seriously overweight were also at serious risk of experiencing complications from the disease. According to the CDC, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity among U.S. adults was 42.4% in 2017–2018. That means that close to half of adults in the U.S. are obese! This information causes me to think that the best thing we can do to prepare for the next pandemic is to be in the best health possible. (METABOLIC DISEASE)
HOW CAN EXERCISE OPTIMIZE HEALTH?
How can exercise prepare us for the next pandemic? Exercise promotes good health and a strong immune system in many ways. The following are examples of how exercise can protect health.
The body is a vessel filled with many cells, tissues, and systems. At the heart of these is the nutrient exchange provided by the blood. All cells in the body require blood flow to survive. And all cells require good circulation to receive nutrients and remove waste products. Exercise improves circulation and blood flow efficiency.
Lean Body Mass
Lean body mass is important to the body providing strength, improved hormone balance, and sustainability in times of sickness or if food were to become unavailable. Lean mass is especially important to the elderly, who are more susceptible to body mass loss due to sickness and natural loss of appetite. Having a high lean body mass percentage can protect your health in times of distress.
Excess body fat is taxing to the body. One pound of fat requires miles of extra blood vessels to provide the nutrient exchange required for these cells to survive. This places extra demand on the heart, lungs, and other systems of the body. Losing excess body fat through proper diet and exercise will always improve health. Less body fat means less stress on the body which can benefit the immune system.
Speaking of stress, exercise causes a release in serotonin. Serotonin is the “feel good” hormone, and a serotonin release will almost always improve mood. When mood is improved, mental health is improved causing a reduction in stress. Stress is a multiplier to negative effects of any underlying health issue; the less stress the better.
Exercise reduces insulin resistance. Insulin takes the energy in blood sugar and stores it in the body’s cells. Insulin’s resistance is a condition where cells lose efficiency when responding to the body’s release of insulin. This causes a disruption of the glucose concentration in the blood. Insulin resistance is a major factor in body fat storage, diabetes, and other ailments.
Exercising muscles require more blood than when they are at rest. Cardiovascular exercises like running, biking, and jumping rope, cause capillary growth in response to the increased load on the muscles. Resistance training such as weight lifting and calisthenics cause blood vessels to expand. An increased capillary network, along with healthier blood vessels improves oxygen efficiency and overall health of the respiratory and cardiovascular system.
The experts are saying the best ways to protect against the Coronavirus are to avoid groups of people (quarantine), wash hands frequently for at least twenty seconds, and wear a mask if you have to go in public. If these measures fail, however, and the virus should happen to infiltrate the body, the last line of defense is the immune system and the health of the affected person. Consistent exercise is a simple and effective way to boost the immune system and improve health. Start a consistent exercise routine now to begin preparing for the next pandemic. Click here if you need help beginning an exercise program.