We all know the importance of exercise and its numerous health benefits. During this pandemic, you might find yourself struggling with conflicting ideas: gain weight while inactive at home, or go to the gym and risk contracting coronavirus from someone. We’d like to help you make a decision by alleviating your fears and providing information about how exercise can mitigate risk factors that lead to a severe COVID-19 illness.
General Health Benefits of Exercise
Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Everyone can benefit from exercise no matter your age, gender, ethnicity, or body type. All it takes is 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If you’re not used to moderate-to-intense exercise, you should consult your doctor before starting a new program. You should always start out slow and build as you make progress.
Some benefits of physical activity include:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved cognition as you age
- Better sleep
- Weight management
- Reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, and some cancers
- Strengthen your bones and mucles
- Improved balance
- Healthier skin
Exercise and COVID-19 Risk Factors
So what does this all mean for risk factors related to COVID-19 severity? There are a number of underlying conditions which could potentially put people at risk for severe COVID-19 complications. However, exercise may mitigate some of these risks.
According to Dr. Michael Osterholm, PhD, MPH, an internationally known expert in infectious disease epidemiology, the University of Minnesota Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, and former interim Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), says the #1 risk factor for people under the age of 55 is obesity. “Eating the right diet, getting physical activity, and managing stress are some of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from the disease.”
Physical activity enhances immune function and reduces inflammation, which may also reduce the severity of the illness. Other underlying conditions known to cause COVID-19 complications such as chronic heart disease, diabetes, and asthma may also be improved through physical activity.
One of the more severe complications that can be developed by patients with COVID-19 is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), a condition that causes the lungs to become swollen, which results in fluid buildup and oxygen deprivation. Research has found that an antioxidant enzyme, which is produced in large quantities during vigorous exercise, can lessen the risk of ARDS. Also, the study showed the more regularly you exercise, the more the enzyme will be produced.
Why Return to the Clubs?
You might be feeling hesitant to come to the clubs to exercise. However, we want you to know that we are doing everything we can to sanitize equipment and surfaces with superior cleaning technologies, and our large facilities allow for physical distancing without eliminating the activities you enjoy. We have created advanced reservation systems for a number of programs and spaces, such as group exercise classes and pool lap lanes.
Many of the protocols we’ve created during this reopening phase go above and beyond what local health departments and the CDC have recommended. On top of wiping everything down with sanitizing chemicals after every use, we have invested in UV light disinfection systems that irradiate 99% of pathogens in a space (including surfaces and in the air). It also reaches surfaces underneath and behind fitness equipment that are normally difficult to sanitize with spray bottles.
Aside from sanitizing, we’ll be testing our surfaces regularly to audit the cleanliness of our facilities.
How to Exercise Safely During the Pandemic
As we mentioned above, we are doing our part to make sure the clubs are as sanitized as possible. When returning to the clubs, remember to do the following to ensure the safety of yourself and others:
- Practice social distancing at all times
- Don’t come to the club if you experience a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing
- Wash hands thoroughly (about 20 seconds)
- Wear a mask when not involved in vigorous exercise
- Choose a form of exercise that matches your fitness level, especially important after a long period of physical inactivity
So as you can see, we want you to feel safe and comfortable returning to the clubs so you can focus on your health. Obviously we want what’s best for our members, so if you have a suggestion, feel free to let us know how we can improve.
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