Why Don’t We Talk More about Fitness as Disease Prevention?

Seems like we’ve talked more about avoiding sickness this year than ever. We have all heard many times that we’re supposed to wash hands frequently, stay at a safe distance from other people, and wear masks in public.

Don’t do this, we’re told. Don’t go there.

But there’s an important part of disease prevention that isn’t being discussed enough: maintaining a healthy lifestyle through exercise, nutrition, and other pro-active, empowering acts of responsibility and self-care.

Positive Steps to Take

Make no mistake about it: regular exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, hydration, and managing stress all play a crucial role in protecting against infection and other health problems. They keep our immune systems strong, our joints and muscles functional, and our respiratory system operating right.

We are told too often that being “healthy” means getting over an illness. But it also means staying strong, not getting sick, and maintaining a quality of life that keeps you independent and fully functioning.

What’s dangerous even during non-pandemic times: obesity, fast food, slothfulness, sitting too much, not moving enough, avoiding emotions, alcohol and drug abuse, etc.

We want to avoid those problems just like we want to avoid Covid-19.

Most Gym/Studio Members Want to Return

Gyms and fitness studios play a crucial role in keeping us safe from disease. Since reopening after quarantine, they have gone through extensive sanitation and established procedures to keep members safe.

One of the leading organizations in the fitness industry surveyed gymgoers in four countries – the US, Spain, Poland, and India – and found fascinating support for this.

For instance, the vast majority of gym/studio members have returned or plan to return as soon as possible. That figure is 65 percent in the US, according to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA). In Spain, it’s 88 percent!

Members have been less active during the coronavirus crisis, with gyms and studios forced to close. And gym/studio members depend on their facilities for better health and wellbeing.

“Now, more than ever, healthy habits, including regular exercise, are critical for overall well-being and heightened immunity,” IHRSA says.

Get Your Exercise Regardless

Data from Norway and Arkansas boosted the industry’s claims of safety, finding no greater risk of contracting the coronavirus at a gym, IHRSA reported. In Arkansas, just 0.3 percent of active cases had been to a gym. And the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in May revealed that the virus “does not spread easily” from touching surfaces or objects. So enhanced cleaning – like frequently wiping down equipment with antibacterial solution – should be key to reopening.

We also have made online training a viable option, and many of you have responded enthusiastically.

There’s so much you can do to stay healthy!

Holly Kouvo is a personal trainer, functional aging specialist, senior fitness specialist, brain health trainer, writer, and speaker.

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