“Hey, hey, Corona, go away!” it says on a kindergarten gate poster. Of course, I fully support these rules. I guess you do too: Keep your distance, wash your hands often, cough and sneeze into the corner of your elbow. But did you know that you can protect yourself even further?
March 12, 2020, I sat with a large lump in my stomach. This invisible enemy had put an end to most plans for an unknown length of time. We were going to get on the plane to Gran Canaria the next day. With closed kindergartens and home office, the suitcase was quickly unpacked. At the top were sneakers, a t-shirt, and my favorite running shorts. Oh, I was looking forward to running with shorts again!
The days in lock-down went by. One evening, I was sitting in a corner on the bathroom heating cables, smelling a sunscreen tube. (Yes, it’s a thing I do, when the winter feels a little too long). It dawned on me how incredibly lucky I am to have grown up with a family who likes to stay active. Death rates were rising throughout Europe, and many victims’ underlying diseases became more clearly a factor in the fact that many couldn’t survive COVID-19.
Underlying disease in this context is mostly the same as what we know as lifestyle diseases. It is the body’s response to the fact that the lifestyle you choose to live may not be entirely in line with what your body needs. It can manifest itself in high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or lung disease. Everything is filth you would rather be without, but at the same time useful to find out if it is there 🤓. It’s just terrible if it’s Covid-19 that makes you aware that it is in your body.
Of the underlying diseases in those who die of Covid-19, high blood pressure is the most important. Figures from Italy show that of 355 deaths associated with Covid-19, 270 had high blood pressure (76%). Figures from Sweden say that 80% of those who died of/with Covid-19 had underlying high blood pressure. (Figures from May 12, 2020)
In Norwegian medicine, there is talk of frailty. (Not a very pleasant expression, but quite descriptive in principle 🤔). In short, it is a term that explains reduced VO2max and maximum muscle strength (1RM). How old, frail, and how badly cared for your heart, vessels and lungs are, is decisive for how sick you can get from Covid-19. The good news is that biological age (as an expression of maximum oxygen uptake and muscle strength) is more important than chronological age in assessing disease risk. Your birthday will come on the same date every year anyway, but you can directly affect your biological age! 🎉
It is well documented that physical activity is very effective in treating several diseases and conditions. Exercise can, in many cases, replace or reduce the need for medication 👏. Research shows that even the sickest heart failure patients tolerate strength and endurance training. Not only that, but it also turns out to have a positive effect on their health! So if you can read this, you are capable of work-out to get more resilient.
Exercise in itself will not prevent you from becoming infected with corona. But exercise will have a preventative effect to the extent that your body becomes less exposed to underlying diseases. You will have a lower biological age, and if you do get sick, you will not be so frail. Let’s be honest; neither of us will be referred to as that? The tip is simple: tie your shoes, get out, and do an activity that will make you breathe heavily.
At this moment, it is not just me who is doing some writing. Myworkout is now applying for funding to help rehabilitate all those who will need it after being ill with corona. Not only in Norway but worldwide 🤩! We hope this goes through because we are reasonably confident that we can help those who need it. So while we make an effort to put in place the rehabilitation, I hope you do what you can to prevent and get more resilient ❤️