In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, global caution toward potential infection and illness has understandably increased. Alongside isolation and social distancing, our lifestyles have changed to better prevent the transmission and risk of illness. However, while lockdowns are enacted to ensure the minimal spread of infection, our confinement also comes with its own potential risks.
Isolation has very quickly changed our daily lives, from our office meetings to our diet. Many aspects of our routine are affected and, as the weeks of staying home turn to months, our bodies are changing too. One of the most significant occurrences that most people have faced is the amount of exercise they perform. Gyms are now closed and much of our time outside is limited. Maintaining the same level of physical activity during a lockdown is, for many, incredibly difficult. If, however, we allow our bodies to relax too much and begin to neglect regular exercise, our bodies, along with our immune system, may suffer.
Exercise has been understood to improve your immune system for many years. Only recently have certain myths been purported to argue otherwise, notably that excessive or overly-intense exercise actually weakens your immune system. However, these beliefs were dispelled with a clear conclusion from a 2018 study from the University of Bath, that clarifies exercising benefits your immune system.
Regular workouts and activity, over a small period of time, help your body during potential infection by supporting its ability to locate and deter harmful pathogens. The cells within the bodies of those who do not exercise regularly are understood to act more slowly when fighting an infection. Those men who lead active lifestyles have better blood flow, meaning their cells are transported more efficiently. Then, over a longer period of time, exercise actually decreases the speed with our immune system declines. As we get older, our immune systems, as with all aspects of our body, age, and decline in their effectiveness. Exercise slows this process down and, therefore, may help to maintain our body’s defense against infection.
Exercise in Lockdown
The World Health Organisation recommends that all adults get 150 minutes of exercise per week, or 75 minutes of a more strenuous workout. The international pandemic has made achieving this regular exercise more difficult but the public is doing well to adapt. Many men have begun looking to recreate their fitness routines at home. Online fitness classes have become some of the most popular streams while workout equipment retailers, such as TMuscle Bodybuilding Shop, have seen a huge rise in demand for equipment that can be used at home. There are others who are using their time outside, such as the UK’s single hour, as an opportunity to run.
Body-weight fitness regimes have also become popular, utilizing our own body-weight to engage certain muscles, improving strength and endurance. Such strengthening activities also serve to maintain bone density, which is especially important for older men. And, while the pre-lockdown levels of cardio are not possible for all, moving up and down our home’s stairs is a simple way to maintain blood circulation.
Maintaining a regular level of physical activity while staying at home, or even increasing your exercise, will also improve your body’s immune system in other ways too. Since many are denied their commute or the exertion that comes with more regular outdoor activities, such as shopping or meeting friend, our bodies are losing their sense of rhythm. Exercise helps to maintain our body’s energy levels, ensuring we sleep and eat better. While remaining at home, with less activity, our bodies can quickly become lethargic, leading to further potential health risks.
Exercise is also a deterrent for stress, helping to improve our mood and prevent it. Among other health issues that often affect men, such as high blood pressure, stress is understood to suppress our immune systems, making its elimination more important, especially during the current periods of isolation and uncertainty where we are more susceptible to anxiety.
There are major benefits to incorporating regular physical activity into your life, however, while exercise supports a healthier lifestyle, it is important to note that it will not prevent the risk of infection entirely. Diet and sleep schedule play important roles in your body’s health, and during the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing will too.
While we do not know how our communities will look after the pandemic, our individual health will remain as important as ever, which is why both an awareness of contamination combined with a healthy attitude towards exercise remain in mind for the foreseeable future.
This content is brought to you by Mark Fulford.