Stay Active During the Pandemic in Chicago

Stay Active During the Pandemic in ChicagoBeing physically active is probably not a priority amid our concerns to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. But be careful, maybe it should be because physical activity can be a valuable tool to control COVID-19 infections and maintain quality of life.

Physical activity is one of the most powerful forces for maintaining good health. By improving the functioning of numerous physiological systems, physical activity helps prevent and/or treat many physical and mental health conditions (Powell et al., 2018). In this document we explain how to harness the salutogenic power of physical activity to help alleviate the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in four ways:

Exercise is Essential for Your Well-Being During the Pandemic 

First, physical activity has the potential to reduce the severity of COVID-19 infections. This is related to what happens in the lungs during infection. The immune system detects the invading virus in the lungs and attacks it. The conflict between the virus and the immune cells creates inflammation. That inflammation causes damage to lung tissue that interferes with breathing and can become severe enough to require medical interventions, such as mechanical ventilators.

Second, physical activity is effective in both preventing and treating heart disease, diabetes, and eight specific types of cancer (Powell et al., 2019), which increase the risk of serious illness and death among people infected with it. coronavirus. Although physical activity is widely recommended by health authorities, efforts to promote active lifestyles are minimal (Reis et al., 2016). Now it makes sense to encourage people, especially those with chronic illnesses, to be moderately active before becoming ill, to reduce the severity of illness after infection. Because physical activity has immediate effects on immune function and inflammation (Hojman, 2017), similar to taking medicine daily, people can reduce their risk of serious viral infections and the risk of multiple chronic diseases simply by trying to comply with the physical activity recommendation of 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic physical activity (could be met with 30 minutes of physical activity daily at home or taking a short walk). It is not too late in the pandemic for people to benefit from moderate increases in physical activity.

Third, symptoms of stress will increase as the pandemic continues, due to threats to health, job loss, reduced income, and social isolation. Fortunately, being physically active has significant mental health benefits, and encouraging people to be active could help many cope with ongoing stress and avoid psychological illness. Each session of physical activity reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety (Basso et al., 2017), so being active every day can be a partial antidote to the stress of the pandemic. For people already in distress, being active is as effective as medication and psychotherapy. (Powell et al., 2019) The most common physical activity is walking, which is free, accessible to most people of all ages (CDC, 2018), and lends itself well to maintaining social distancing. (CDC, 2018).


Action is needed to increase physical activity during the coronavirus pandemic The most important actions now are to reduce the spread of the coronavirus through social distancing, wash your hands frequently, and avoid touching your face. But because of its many benefits, physical activity shouldn’t be an afterthought during this pandemic. Being active should be a key recommendation. People need to know about the actions they can take to help reduce the risk of serious infections and stressful reactions to the pandemic. In the US, only 19% of women, 26% of men, and 20% of adolescents meet physical activity recommendations (Giroir & Wright, 2018), so most Americans increase their risk of many diseases through physical inactivity.

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