DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor nor an infectious disease specialist. During a pandemic like the one we are experiencing right now, it is important to get all official guidelines directly pertaining to the pandemic from legitimate sources like the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
What we will cover in this article are some basic things YOU can do RIGHT NOW to maintain your health, fitness, and sanity while we all navigate each day as things change.
Prepare but don’t panic
“Worrying is like a rocking chair…it gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” It’s possible that we could be facing a nationwide quarantine. In that event, it is unclear if we will be able to travel, if grocery stores will be open, etc… So in order to prepare for that, be sure to have 1-2 weeks worth of food, water, and other necessities stocked up at home (yes that includes toilet paper). I would recommend bottled water even if you normally drink tap in the event that you lose power, you may not have access to tap water.
However it is important not to panic. What does panicking mean? Buying more than you really need. Ruminating on everything that you could go wrong. Being rude, or possibly even violent towards other people if you feel like they are in your way, buying things you want/need, etc…
Why should we not panic? Panicking is a type of stress, and stress weakens our immune system. Which brings us to our next point…
Be as healthy as possible
At the time of writing this, there is no vaccine and no direct treatment for COVID-19. That means most people will need supportive care if they contract the virus. Supportive care implies treatment of the symptoms or potentially support to vital organs (like lungs and kidneys) if you are in critical condition (As of right now the CDC is reporting about 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild). There are some news articles floating around about antiviral drugs showing some initial promise in the treatment, but there is nothing official yet.
What that means for YOU is that the healthier you can be in general, the better off you will be if you do contract COVID-19 (or any other virus for that matter). Here are a list of things you can do to naturally support your general health and immune system:
- De-stress. As mentioned above, stress can have a profound impact on your immune system.
- Exercise! Exercising is great for your health and a healthy immune system. While we often talk about the importance of a good training program for specific goals, literally 20-30 minutes a day of light to moderate exercise can have a positive effect on your immune system.
- Sleep! Sleep is one of the most important things for a healthy immune system. We recommend at LEAST 8 hours per night. Some things you can do to ensure quality sleep.
- No screen time 30 minutes prior to bed
- Keep your room cool
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible. Cover all small lights from electronics with tape!
- Use a topical magnesium!
- Proper nutrition! This one goes without saying, however simply not overeating can go a long way in keeping a healthy immune system. There is a lot of talk these days about intermittent fasting and autophagy, which is a fancy word for cell repair. But know what else is great for repairing cells? Being in a slight calorie deficit. While it’s always a good idea to get most of your calories from whole foods to help ensure proper vitamin and mineral intake, not over eating will go a long way in keeping you healthy.
How to Exercise in a Quarantine
Many of us either cannot, or do not want to go to the gym right now. The gym is normally a great place to exercise (better than at home sometimes) for a few reasons:
- Wide variety of equipment, more so typically than even the best equipped home gyms.
- Dedicated space to focus on training without the distractions we often find within our own homes.
- Community! Training is always easier with other people around, even if we aren’t necessarily engaging with them.
Unfortunately training at home might be the only option we have right now. So what can we do?
- Focus on body weight exercises.
- There are hundreds of body weight exercises to chose from, Some are very challenging (like pistols) others are beginner friendly like body weight squats. The most challenging movements to do at home are pulling exercises for your back muscles, as body weight movements don’t lend themselves to this type of exercise without a little bit of equipment
- Use household items to add resistance
- This could be a jug of water, a compound bucket, a purse loaded with smaller items to make it heavier. Get creative!
- Do exercises for time rather than reps.
- By doing this you can make lighter exercises more challenging. One of my favorite intervals is 30s on and 30s off. It keeps the pace going while still being very challenging.
- Slow down the tempo of the exercise!
- If you can’t add weight to a movement, one way you can make it more challenging is by slowing the movement down. Check out our video on this topic to learn more.
- Take some time to update your training playlist.
- Music is a great motivator, and even if you’re not thrilled about not being able to do your carefully crafted Arkitect workout, you can still get yourself pumped up by listening to some great tunes! If you’re home from work, take some time to put together a new training playlist to keep things fresh.
Unfortunately since the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been quite a few people trying to profit off of people’s fear by peddling products that will supposedly keep you from getting infected. In truth there is very little data to support this. One of the challenges we face against COVID-19 is that it is a new virus, previously unseen in humans prior to December 2019. There are some supplements that typically help to boost immune system function and reduce viral infections. They all vary in their efficacy so take these with a grain of salt:
To reiterate, none of the above are treatments specifically for COVID-19, but are good for promoting immune health or fighting against respiratory related illness in general.
This goes back to our initial point about stress. Having a negative mindset will not help anything. If anything it will make your life much, much worse, by adding unneeded mental stress in an already stressful time. None of us can possibly know what will happen in the next days or weeks, but that can be said about any time in our lives. So we must prepare for the dangers ahead, and in the meantime don’t forget to enjoy life, your loved ones, and to take care of yourself.