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“Every little bit of movement counts. So when we’re confined to our home, move, move, move.” Anna Goldfarb, New York Times, March 22, 2020

“Both too much and too little are bad while in the middle is just right.” Wayne State University Exercise and Science Professors Tamara Hew-Butler and Mariane Fahlman, The Conversation, March 23, 2020

Exercise during Coronavirus Shutdown

A very fit and wise friend wrote that he sees “a touch of arrogance” among some of his older friends. “They seem to think consistent training somehow confers on them some immunity from the coronavirus, or at least puts them on equal footing with younger generations to fight off its effects should they contract it.”

“No matter how good our conditioning, age is a significant factor in mortality rates,” he warned.

He has a point. Age does seem to make a difference in our immune capacity.

Nevertheless, experts tell us that being fit and healthy remains a key factor, for young and old alike.

A piece by Katie Hafner in The New York Times addressed this issue:

There is no evidence yet that older people are significantly more likely to acquire the coronavirus than younger people. But medical experts say that if people over 60 are infected, they are more likely to have severe, life-threatening disease, even if their general health is good. Older people with underlying medical conditions are at particularly high risk. Experts attribute some of the risk to a weakening of the immune system with age.

Geriatricians fear that social distancing may affect routines in ways that can compromise the vitality of older adults. They emphasize the importance of maintaining good habits, including sufficient sleep, healthful eating and exercise.

Exercise may be beneficial in fighting the effects of coronavirus. It can help boost the body’s immune functions, decrease inflammation and have mental and emotional benefits. A patient who relies on daily exercise at the gym but is trying to avoid risky situations might simply go for a walk.

You can read the entire article online: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/14/health/coronavirus-elderly-protection.html

How Much Exercise?

The virus shutdown is not the time for all-out exercise, according to Wayne State University Exercise and Science Professors Tamara Hew-Butler and Mariane Fahlman. “Both too much and too little are bad while in the middle is just right,” they told The Conversation on Market Watch.

A study of 25,000 Chinese during the Hong Kong flu outbreak in 1998 showed that people who did no exercise at all or too much exercise—over five days a week—were at greatest risk of dying compared to people who exercised moderately.

Limited data from mice suggests that moderate exercise after being infected with the influenza virus improves the chances of survival. “In fact, 82% of the mice who exercised 20-30 minutes a day during the incubation period, or the time between getting infected with flu and showing symptoms, survived. In contrast, only 43% of the sedentary mice and 30% of the mice who performed strenuous exercise — or 2.5 hours of exercise a day — survived.”

The Wayne State professors say it is clear that too much exercise or exercising while sick increases the risk of complications or dying.

“So, when it comes to immunity, our studies show that more exercise is not necessarily better.”

Examples of what not to do are running a marathon or working out more than five days a week.

The professors, proud exercise addicts, left readers with these heartening words: “Stay safe out there and be creative. Our game is not over, just temporarily suspended.”

The entire Conversation is online: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/guid/f529d5a0-6d39-11ea-8762-407e1360efba?siteid=rss&rss=1

Some Thoughts & Suggestions

My newly instituted five continuous days of rest—morning motion and walking only—between Friday and Saturday workouts seems to have come at an opportune time. If resting heart rate is an indication, the back-to-back days of rest are enhancing my recovery. Fitbit shows my resting heart rate going up to 59 after the workouts and back down to 55 before training again.

On the other hand, my all-out efforts on Friday and Saturday may be ill-timed during the coronavirus outbreak. I plan to letup on intensity until the pandemic loses steam in our area.

*  *  *

I have some suggestions for visitors who train in fitness centers that have been shuttered or simply wonder about their options.

Keep in mind that muscle mass and strength augment every part of the body, including the immune system. Now is not the time to stop training arguably the most important part of the body, which I am betting can be done without increasing the risk of infection. Be clear that I'm doing RT only once a week.

You can train every body part in an hour or less, doing a general warm up and one set per exercise, perhaps stopping a rep or two short of failure.

The options are many: machines, free weights, kettlebells, body weight, resistance bands, isokinetic exercise, isometric contraction, and more. Whatever you have available and enjoy.

Use your imagination. For example, gallon jugs of milk or other liquids make excellent dumbbells.

Slow and controlled squats with a broom stick will set your quads and butt on fire.

You can train your entire body with a single kettlebell; just be careful not to hit yourself in the head. It might be a good time to try the Soft Kettlebells which are now available.

A little time on Google will no doubt produce many more home training options.

Good luck and good training while the nasty virus is with us--and beyond.

Use common sense and be careful.

As many of you know, I am the son of a medical doctor, but I am not a doctor. If you have symptoms or think you may have been exposed to the virus, check with your health care provider for guidance.

April 1, 2020

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