The current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a lot of things about our current culture . One of the most notable being our general disdain for health and fitness. Most individuals will acknowledge that exercise is good for them, and that they should do more than they do. Years of research have pointed to a plethora of benefits including cardiovascular, strength, improved mental health. Improved fitness strengthens immunity, and added muscle can improve as well as extend quality of life. Legendary strength coach Mark Ripetoe famously says “strong people are generally more useful and harder to kill”. We also know that exercise helps our cognitive function, making us smarter and more capable of learning/retaining information. There are virtually no drawbacks when done in a safe and sensible manner. In spite of all of this, regular exercise tends to be an after-thought.
When the pandemic hit Michigan in March, gyms were shut down along with many other businesses. To date, gyms are virtually the only business that has not been allowed to resume operations. While you can get tattoos, massages, or drinks at a bar, you still can’t do the one thing that has the biggest impact on your immunity. The research is very clear that obesity and lack of fitness have a tremendous effect on your likelihood of surviving COVID or any other disease. Yet, no government officials are talking about strategies for improving and incentivizing community fitness. Many have opted to shut down the one place where people can work to improve their odds of a positive outcome after infection. The fitness industry hasn’t been given an opportunity to show they can safely operate and serve clientele. I think that much of this goes back to how we prioritize fitness and value fitness professionals as a culture.
We are now living in a reality where an important factor in the ability to combat communicable disease has been deemed “non-essential.” Imagine what may have happened five months ago if the state had incentivized individuals to protect their health through fitness instead of applying gym lock downs. In the fitness field, five months is enough time to make a significant impact on the health of most individuals. Another point of consideration are geriatric and other special populations who were currently accessing necessary professional fitness services. Cardiovascular fitness and muscle mass can be lost rapidly in these populations leading to poor outcomes for multiple health indicators. The cost of detraining on our healthcare system is significant, and should be a major concern of politicians and those responsible for community health.
What can we do going forward? Let our representatives know that community health and fitness is a necessity. That many benefit greatly from the assistance of fitness professionals who can safely guide them to better long term health outcomes. Fitness professionals across America are dedicated to providing safe environments, and many are ready to do so today. As your fitness professional, I’m committed to doing that for you. I look forward to helping you keep your body well, and prepared for any illnesses that may arise this year.