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Exercise is Good | News For The Workers Comp Industry

ABC News reports recently that the U.S. may be facing a “triple threat” this winter with respiratory illness. The trend is already apparent with cases of influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSD), and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). The three are being discussed and feared as a “trilpledemic.” The onset of flu and the RSD is perceived as being earlier this year than expected, and the numbers seem significant, particularly among the young. We need to protect ourselves, and a great potential reaction is at our disposal.

Recently, the

“pediatric bed occupancy in the U.S. is the highest it’s been in two years with 75% of the estimated 40,000 beds filled with patients.”

Some hospitals are faced with too many patients and are struggling to cope, according to National Public Radio (NPR). This is more predominant with kids. In some instances, children are being shifted to other hospitals, sometimes out of state. It may seem odd that such infections are increasing.

However, NPR quotes scientists blaming a “perfect storm” of circumstances. They note that isolation for two years prevented exposure to SARS-CoV-2 but also to other viruses. The impacts of that isolation have been discussed and documented. Organizations such as the Mayo Clinic have recognized and warned of emotional well-being challenges from the isolation that came with COVID-19. But, our isolation seems to have left immune systems unprepared for a return to normal.

The NPR article cheerleads for face masks and laments that people are “gathered again.” Despite the reasonably widespread recognition of emotional challenges from isolation, there seems some advocacy there for isolation once again. While there are passing references to SARS-CoV-2, the present focus seems largely with the flu and other viruses.

There is, of course, the underlying theme of Covid vaccines, and some lament that enthusiasm for them has lagged recently. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and others have noted the overall rate of inoculation in the U.S. remains somewhere close to eighty percent. However, the enthusiasm has not been uniform, and interest in the Omicron booster seems less enthusiastic.

Discussion of T-cells is not new to these pages. See Never COVID Cohort (February 2022) and Catch a Cold (March 2021). There is a real possibility that the human body has some natural ability to combat COVID-19 and other viral infections. Catching a cold periodically may actually make you stronger (isolating and having no exposure to minor viruses may not, see above). I have also written about a sedentary lifestyle and the health threat it may pose. Constant non-Trauma (January 2016) and How can they Both Increase (February 2019). Throughout the pandemic, I have been an advocate for getting outside often, exercising, fresh air, and sunshine. It is, truly, good for you.

And, I have repeatedly noted that research on this SARS-CoV-2 is really only just beginning. There are vast spectrums of people looking into various aspects of the virus, its impacts, and our health. Our path through COVID has thus far been challenging and left too many posts here. See Long COVID Seminar (April 2022).

Therefore, a recent study has been of particular interest. The Telegraph reported on its findings that may seem counterintuitive to some. They are in line with what I have been suggesting for two years, essentially that exercise is good. The import of the report is that those who isolated and avoided exercise in the interest of avoiding viral exposure may get less benefit from vaccination.

The vaccines appear to be of greater benefit to people who are active and exercising. This is of particular note as we contemplate whether to receive booster vaccinations and whether to get off the couch and get some exercise. This South African study concluded: “that people who got the most exercise responded better to the vaccine, with fewer ending up in hospital following the jab.” This, it turns out, is true: exercise is good.

The difference in this study is not marginal or slight. In fact

“out of 100 people who would have ended up in hospital with Covid without a jab, 40 of the least active would still be admitted compared with just 14 of the most active – nearly a threefold difference.”

Note that this is “without” vaccination. The odds of landing in the hospital were far higher for those who were inactive. The article is critical of “lockdowns” in this regard, concluding that they were “counterproductive from (an) immune point of view.” The import is that active is good without the vaccination, and active is even better if you elect the vaccination. In short, being active is good.

The scientists involved in this study suggest that “policymakers” were hamstrung by the information available when SARS-CoV-2 first emigrated from China in 2019. Reacting to the fear of infection and the potential for overburdening our health systems, there was an inclination towards “hard lockdowns” and isolation. It appears that a better reaction might have been to encourage exercise. The study authors conclude simply:

“We’ve always understood that physical activity has a protective effect against non-communicable diseases, but now we know we can protect against viral infection.”

Exercise, you see, is good. Perhaps the close proximity to other people exercising is a potential infection risk. Maybe, therefore, it is somewhat easier to be active in this way when you live in Paradise, and need not deal with snow, ice, and frigidity. That is fair to consider. So, don’t go out for an hour, go for 15 minutes (then do it again). Pace a hallway, find a mall, there are lots of places to get in a few steps.

If you can get to the gym, that is great, But, if you cannot get to or into a gym, exercise is still good. If you cannot walk 10,000 steps in day, you may some way to walk something less. During the early days of the pandemic, I often walked up and down the hall outside my office for 15 minutes each morning and afternoon. I tried to get outside, and when I could that was better. Get outside, but if you cannot get up and move anyway, anywhere, anytime.

What happened during the pandemic? The Telegraph reports that it appears “global levels of walking dropped 50 per cent in the month after the pandemic was declared.” In the United Kingdom, “Step counts . . . dropped by 15 per cent by 17 days into lockdown.” The volume of adults getting significant exercise decreased. One study documented responses indicating more people “reported exercising less than an average of 30 minutes a week.” It seems people just quit moving. Motion is lotion, and you will likely feel better for it.

That lack of motion was detrimental to our “dose response.” The more active, the “less likely to be admitted to hospital with Covid infection.” The level “of exercise in the years before the vaccine appeared to be key.” The researchers note that we all know physical activity is good for us. They note that activity promotes the way our bodies produce “antibodies and T-cells.” Those are the same T-cells mentioned above and in earlier posts. Exercise encourages the production of various cells that facilitate immune response, “the mitochondria.”

In short, exercise is good. The benefits as regards COVID-19 are coming to light. The cold and flu season is upon us, and already there is an indication of increased respiratory infection in the U.S., particularly among the young. You can consider the vaccine, a booster, or a Flu shot. And, you can perhaps elect to isolate more or don a mask. But, you might also decide to get outside and walk around the block (take the kids with you). I walk every morning, about three miles before breakfast. It takes a while at my age, but it is worth every minute. It is refreshing, healthy, and now perhaps health-enhancing way beyond the cardiovascular.

Through almost three years of SARS-CoV-2, I have been blessed to avoid infection. I have persisted throughout in working at the office, flying, riding trains, attending events, and declining masks (unless mandated). But, I have persistently exercised. Anecdotal? Certainly. Good advice, likely so. I am not a doctor or scientist, but the proof is mounting. Exercise is good. Get outside today and find a way to walk a mile or two.

By Judge David Langham

Courtesy of Florida Workers’ Comp

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