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The Coronavirus – how staying active can help you!

25 Jun 2020

The Coronavirus panic is, as I write, looking less scary with lock-down being eased.  So what have we learned? Yes, be alert. Listen to the guidance. Think of others. Wash your hands. All good advice but there are so many things we are still unclear about.

What we do know for certain? Number one is that this dreadful disease attacks the elderly more than any other group in society. The majority of deaths we hear about are those of our senior citizens. Generally those with underlying health conditions.

But why should this be the case?

Why are those with the greatest experience be more susceptible and can we do anything about it? Especially if the pandemic decides to pay us a return visit in the autumn. As we age, we are more vulnerable to disease and disability. Our bodies slow down leaving us at higher risk to fall, victim to illnesses that have a long duration and slow progression.

What happens is that our immune system struggles to cope and we become an easy target for infection. The four main types of non-communicable diseases are cardiovascular, cancer, respiratory and diabetic. These account for an estimated 86% of deaths throughout Europe.

The other symptom that makes us more susceptible to disease is frailty. It is just that our body mass lowers and a reduction in mobility becomes an issue. We become more prone to physical wobbles and falls which also opens us up to infection.

Exercise is a big player in helping to reduce these dangers. The statistics show that even those who do little more than shake a leg or raise an arm are in a far better place than those who do nothing.

Consistent, moderate exercise also increases the T-cells in our blood. This helps the immune system respond to any new infections. There is also an argument that physical activity can flush bacteria out of our lungs and airways, reducing the odds of succumbing to flu or illness.

If the Coronavirus has taught us anything, it is that the NHS is under pressure like never before. It is time for us all to help our NHS. But how? Initially by getting out of our armchairs and becoming more active!

The best news is that you do not have to exercise a lot to make a difference. And it is a real tonic to know that it is never too late to start. You do not need to sweat buckets or exercise for hours at a time. We suggest a little every day can do wonders.

Try this for example. When you are waiting for the kettle to boil, use the kitchen surface for support and do five or ten knee raises if you can. Or perhaps gentle squats. When the adverts start on the TV get off your chair and march on the spot during each commercial break.

Our hospital waiting lists are blocked with people suffering from arguably avoidable ailments. Being overweight or immobile through obesity can be challenged by beginning a gentle exercise routine.

So just move about a bit and change your habits because if you do not, you could be adding yourself to one of those statistics that continue to shock us all every day of the week.

John Molyneux (Moly)

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