As daylight saving arrives and temperatures start to climb, many of us take the opportunity to get outside and work on our fitness for summer. To further boost motivation I wanted to point out an important benefit to physical activity in the world we now live in.
In my job as a physiotherapist, I strongly believe in an evidence-based approach to not only injury management but all areas of health and wellbeing. Unfortunately during this pandemic there has been a decided lack of public health messaging about the importance of being proactive with our health, immunity and wellbeing. The vaccine has lost some of its shine as we learn that new variants of Covid-19 may still be contracted and indeed transmitted. Importantly though, there are additional steps we can take to bolster our chances of living with a virus that will eventually become endemic.
A growing body of evidence has demonstrated that meeting global guidelines of physical activity has a profound impact on reducing the bad effects of Covid. A study in the prestigious British Journal of Sports Medicine noted that physically inactive individuals are at a 2.26x greater risk of hospitalisation due to Covid. Furthermore, they found a 1.73x risk of intensive care admission and even a 2.49x greater risk of death in physically inactive individuals. Similar results have been shown in other large studies from around the world. Hospital length of stay was also reduced in Covid patients with greater muscular strength, showing that resistance training may also improve outcomes.
The effects of comorbidities (existing underlying health conditions) known to result in a bad outcome with Covid were removed from these studies, yet exercise may improve those too. With this knowledge comes the hope that we may have greater influence over this virus than what we once thought.
So what should we do to get more active? On the Coast we really are spoilt for choice but how about a walk around the Ōrewa Estuary or Shakespear Park? How about paddleboarding across a glassy Stanmore Bay? A boogie board or surf at Ōrewa may be the fix you need. Perhaps a swim up at Wenderholm. It might simply be at home jumping on the trampoline with your kids or perhaps borrowing their skipping rope! Or it might be the time to rekindle that relationship with the kettlebells and weights at the gym, once Alert Levels allow.
This summer I encourage you to take responsibility for your own wellbeing – your immune system will thank you.Exercise builds resistance