Tuesday, March 24, 2020

COVID-19 strategy: Fitness is hygiene for your immune system

Some patients have told me that they can’t work out because their gym is closed.  Pre-COVID-19, this can’t-work-out syndrome was blamed on other factors (time, weather, bad knees, and so on) but it simply represents a fundamental misunderstanding of exercise.

The fact is, exercise is another form of hygiene; a self-care activity to improve immunity, reduce inflammation, help prevent unnecessary disease, and improve our quality of life.  We brush our teeth twice a day, so we can take two minutes to exercise twice a day!  Like any important act of hygiene, exercise can be done in any scenario.  Don’t get me wrong – gyms are great: lots of extra equipment, often a fun atmosphere, and good social interaction.  However, what about when the gym is closed? 

My recommendation:
Do whatever it takes to be able to exercise under any circumstance.  Love lifting weights?  Buy some – or use something you already have, like a couple of milk jugs filled with water.  Can’t live without the rowing machine at the gym?  Get one and put it in your living room – or achieve the same results with simple resistance bands.  Favor minimalism?  Get a jump rope, medicine ball, and pull-up bar, throw in some jumping jacks, go for a brisk walk outside. . . there are virtually endless home work-out options if we just get creative.  (For more ideas, see Let’s Move More! on pages 70-74 in Good Food, Great Medicine, 4th edition.)  Exercise is too important to be neglected at a time like this.  It’s another form of hygiene: let’s treat it like one!

David Ellis MD