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There is a lot of speculation as to why some places see higher complications and death rates from covid-19 than others. In this article we will go over some of the known factors and theories and ways you can counter them to reduce risk. Please note that this is not medical advice. Speak with a healthcare professional if you have questions or concerns regarding your health.
The major risk factor everyone talks about is of course, age. Specifically those over 60 years old. You can't control your age or the age of a loved one but you can help reduce the risk by limiting exposure. If you or someone you know is over 60, please implement social distancing as soon as possible. You can help someone do this by offering to run their errands and go shopping for them. This limits their exposure to others and lowers their risk of infection.
The next major factor is smoking. It always is but this virus in particular hits smokers especially hard. Quit smoking immediately to reduce your risk. Even just a month after quitting, studies show a measurable improvement in lung function. The more time you have in between quitting and infection, the better your odds.
The CDC has listed that obesity is a major leading cause of health conditions that increase your risk factor from covid-19. This study published by The Lancet lists hypertension, diabetes, coronary heart disease, COPD, and other conditions often caused by obesity, as major contributing factors in cases resulting in death. The good news is, it is never too late to start improving your health through weight loss.
#1. Give up added sugar. It has been shown time and time again that sugar consumption is a leading factor in weight gain, and other health conditions. By simply removing sugar from your diet you will begin to see changes in your body in the first few weeks. This includes fruit juice. It concentrates the sugar naturally found in fruit, allowing you to consume more than you would from eating the fruit itself. There is not a need to give up fruit itself.
#2. Drink 2 liters of water a day. Study after study shows that drinking more water helps speed up metabolism and takes strain off kidneys, which incidentally helps with other conditions as well. It sounds like a lot but if you keep a container of water with you and drink from it off and on all day, you will be surprised at how easy it is.
#3. Begin a regular exercise program. It doesn't need to be super intense either. Just 30 minutes, 5 days a week will improve your health tremendously. I have several medical conditions and have personally found that a yoga ball is amazing for safe exercises that do not aggravate my back. I have an auto immune disorder, thyroid disorder, a heart condition and have had several back surgeries due to injuries caused by a birth defect in my spine. A simple 30 minute walk (as long as it's not around other people) is a great way for many people to get started as well. The point is that even if you have major health issues, a medical professional can still help you start an exercise program that is right for you.
Using these 3 steps I have lost 18lbs over the last 6 weeks even with hypothyroidism and limited mobility. Your results will very but the overall improvement to your health will increase your odds and lower your risk from covid-19 and other medical conditions. This is a long term health solution and should be implemented now, even if you are relatively healthy. It's about stacking the odds in your favor. The fight against covid-19 is a marathon, not a sprint. The virus will be with us for the foreseeable future, so even things that take time to take effect are important to pursue.
* Please remember that going to the gym is not an option if you are trying to lower your risk but there is no reason not to begin exercising at home. It has the added benefit of reducing anxiety and depression which is great for all of us stuck inside due to the pandemic.
SPEAK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
If you have not had a medical exam in the last 12 months, contact your doctor and ask if they recommend that you come in for one. Depending on your area they may not recommend it due to the risk of exposure. If you have medical conditions that are not being properly managed right now such as, asthma, diabetes, and other chronic conditions, work with your doctor to get the condition back under control. Now is not the time to be skipping doses of insulin or forgetting your asthma controller medication. If you can't afford your medication, ask your doctor and pharmacy if there are any programs that can help you get them. Again, it's all about managing risk and being as healthy as you possibly can.
It is a well documented fact that sleep, or a lack there of, has a major effect on your health. This article from the Mayo Clinic explains that a lack of sleep can increase your risk of infection from communicable illnesses. One way to increase the quality and quantity of your sleep is to practice good sleep hygiene. What that means is having a healthy routine before bed. One should not look at phone or computer screens for 30 minutes prior to attempting to sleep. This article from the Sleep Foundation goes into detail regarding the effect of electronics on sleep. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Having a nightly ritual that involves washing your face, brushing your teeth, and engaging in non stimulating relaxation activities can increase your quality of sleep over time.
Having a poor diet, deficient in vitamins and minerals, that is high in sugar and saturated fat, negatively effects your immune system. This article from WebMD talks about the effect of diet on infection from other viruses such as colds and the flu. Covid-19 is no exception. Your immune system response is directly correlated to how your body reacts to any pathogen. Vitamin deficiencies can even cause illnesses themselves such as Scurvy from low vitamin C, and Rickets from low vitamin D. A healthy diet consists of a mix of vegetables, fruits, grains, proteins and fat. Taking a good multi vitamin can help fill in the gaps but should not be used in place of a healthy diet. Speak with a doctor or nutritionist to create a diet that is best for you.
VIRAL LOAD THEORY
There is a very interesting theory regarding the amount of virus one is exposed to at the time of infection having an impact on the outcome of covid-19 infected individuals. This theory seeks to explain why so many medical providers infected with the virus die or become critically ill. It also proposes that cultural differences that limit direct contact may play a part in why some countries have a lower mortality rate than others. There is not enough data to say whether this is true or not but it would be wise to take it into consideration anyway. It absolutely can't hurt to do everything you can to avoid high exposure to the virus. We should be avoiding any direct or close contact with others to avoid infection. Only time will tell what effect, if any, the amount of virus you are exposed to at infection has on outcome. This just adds one more reason to use social distance and infection prevention meassures.
It is important to take care of ourselves all the time but especially now. Not only does it reduce your risk of complications and death from covid-19, but it reduces other illnesses as well. The medical system needs to have as much strain taken off of it as possible to prevent it being overrun and collapsing. Every one of us can help do that by taking care of our health proactively. Stay safe people.
This is the exercise equipment I use at home. They are less expensive than others and are the best quality for the price I have found.