This is a delicate post to write but it has been on my mind for many weeks now. Like many of you, I have pondered how I personally, as well as Catacombs collectively can contribute to the overall health of our community—both now and into the future. I’ve struggled with how to communicate these deeply held beliefs in a sensitive and responsible way. Yet the message is too important to leave unsaid.
Before I dive in, I want to be clear: I’m not saying that fitness will safeguard you from getting sick, or is a replacement for medical care, or social distancing or hand washing. None of those things are true. I do believe, however, that fitness and exercise play a significant role in staying healthy as well as improving one’s ability to fight their way through a health crisis. We should not ignore the tools we have at our disposal to improve our lives.
Fitness isn’t a luxury for me. It is not about aesthetics, either. I work out because doing so makes me feel better mentally and physically. And I know that it will give me the best chance of living the life I want for as long as possible.
Fitness provides a host of health benefits. I’m not trying to convince anyone, but I do want to cut through the noise and lay out the science so that we can all make informed choices about the tools available to us.
LET’S LOOK AT THE SCIENCE
The Mayo Clinic says exercise improves moods, boosts energy, produces better sleep, and promotes weight loss.
As if that weren’t enough, “Regular exercise helps prevent or manage many health problems and concerns, including: stroke, metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, depression, anxiety, many types of cancer, arthritis (and) falls.”
That’s an incredible list—with zero negative side effects. None. Pay particular attention to “metabolic syndrome” in the paragraph above. We’ll get to that in a minute.
So if I wanted to give myself the best chance to overcome anything—from an accident to an infection to a bout of the blues and a lack of self-confidence—I’d choose fitness first. How much? About two to five hours a week. And if I wanted to increase my odds further, I’d eat more vegetables and less processed food.
Combined, those two simple steps can be life changing. No magic pills or miracle cures, just simple lifestyle changes that DRASTICALLY improve your health and quality of life.
CORONAVIRUS AND FITNESS
Right now, the coronavirus pandemic is causing widespread chaos and hardship. It’s causing sickness, death and financial distress. It’s a global tragedy. But as doctors and researchers fight the disease, I’ve been interested to read what they’re discovering about fitness.
Again, let me be clear: I am not saying fitness cures or prevents COVID-19.
From the University of Virginia: “Regular exercise may reduce the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome, a major cause of death in patients with the COVID-19 virus, a top exercise researcher reports.”
In a European Scientist article, Aseem Malhotra explained that poor public health before COVID-19 is making the effects of the disease worse. His most important point might be that obesity isn’t the only health concern:
“Normal weight, metabolically unhealthy (people) have a more than three-fold risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular events than those who are normal weight and metabolically healthy. There’s no such thing as a healthy weight, only a healthy person.”
Translation: Eating poorly is a problem even if you don’t appear to be overweight or unhealthy.
Malhotra’s assertion isn’t that overweight people are more likely to die from COVID-19; it’s that people with metabolic syndrome are far more likely to die.
But there’s hope. Just as pollution levels and infection rates are dropping after only about six weeks of social distancing, people can rapidly improve their health by eating better and exercising. We can turn the ship in far less time than you might think.
“Given the speed at which health markers for metabolic disease improve from dietary interventions, an equally strong if not more significant population health message should now be to ‘eat real food … and save lives,’” Malhotra wrote.
QUICK IMPROVEMENTS ARE POSSIBLE
If you’re reading this as a person who works out and eats well, you deserve a virtual high five. You’ve made wise investments in your health, and you’ve set yourself up to get through this tough period.
If you don’t work or or don’t eat very well, now’s the time to make a change. And we can help.
Over the last six years, we’ve seen scores of unfit or unhealthy people start working out and eating better. Without exception, those who continue on that plan experience dramatic positive changes. They usually tell us about the changes—and we can usually see them, too.
But we also have objective measures. We have data that shows healthy people lift more and run faster, and we see them trading body fat for muscle. We see them get off their blood pressure medication or beat back Type 2 diabetes.
Coronavirus is a real concern, and prevention is our best weapon. For now, that means social distancing and hand washing.
But I’d like to suggest that prevention of disease is always the best plan—pandemic or not. For me, and for our clients, prevention involves non-medical healthcare in the form of regular exercise and healthy food.
If you are not where you would like to be regarding fitness and nutrition, we would love to talk to you about how we can help.
The research and study links in this article are attributable to Mike Warkentin and CrossFit 204 in Canada. The sentiment is 100% mine.