“4 Things Everyone Should Know About the Coronavirus”

I write this post for Fitness Savvy, a company that I provide writing services to and I thought I would share it on my website also.

Covid-19 is the third known zoonotic coronavirus disease, and the previous two were SARS and MERS [1]. There is a flurry of research to understand the mechanisms of infection and transmission. Here is what we know:

Should I take anti-inflammatory medicine?

There have been some conflicting reports relating to the use of anti-inflammatory medicines in the treatment for the Covid-19. For those that are able to use paracetamol to alleviate symptoms, it is certainly wise to do so. The reason there is a question mark hanging over the use of drugs such as ibuprofen is due to their effect on the immune system. Anti-inflammatory medicines suppress the immune system, which may be necessary to moderate the immune response [2]. It may in some cases, have a negative impact on the body’s ability to respond appropriately to infection.

We know how to avoid Covid-19, but what happens if you get it?

There are currently no specified treatments to prevent Covid-19, although much work is being performed globally. Antibiotics, are prescribed for a bacterial infection and will not help with a viral infection and should not be sought. If symptoms transition into a bacterial infection, such as pneumonia antibiotics may be prescribed.

It is essential that dehydration is prevented, take on plenty of fluids to reduce the risk. Stay hydrated despite how unwell you may feel, small sips during regular intervals may help.

A fever is a natural response to an infection and is the body’s natural way of fighting [3], but can become uncontrolled. Medications such as paracetamol can be taken to reduce a fever and the symptoms associated with it.

Covid-19 affects the respiratory tract [1] and in more severe cases, oxygen may need to be administered to assist with the appropriate supply of oxygen to cells.

What is meant by those ‘at risk’?

At risk persons are usually those that are already immunocompromised, in addition to the very young and the elderly. Immunocompromised include patients having chemotherapy treatment for cancer, patients having undergone organ transplantation and/or patients with existing lung disease such as COPD or cystic fibrosis. Furthermore, the response to infections decreases with age and therefore, elderly persons, with underlying health conditions may be considered at risk [https://www.gov.uk/government/news/major-new-measures-to-protect-people-at-highest-risk-from-coronavirus]. Conversely, young patients are still developing their immune systems and may be more susceptible to symptoms and pregnant women are also considered at risk.

Can you catch Covid-19 twice?

When exposed to an infection, such as a virus, the body will develop immunity against repeated infections. In principle, our immune cells will recognise components and fight repeat infections rapidly. This rapid response will mean that you may not be aware of the infection, as the body will fight it appropriately. It does not mean that you will not pick up the same infection twice, rather you will be better prepared for subsequent infections.

There are conflicting reports regarding Covid-19, and when the infection is under control, more detailed data will be available for analysis. What may appear problematic for one cohort of people, maybe less so for another? The guidelines issued by the government are based on the most available date and should be adhered to unless informed otherwise.

References

1.            Sun, P., et al., Understanding of COVID-19 based on current evidence. J Med Virol, 2020.

2.            Coutinho, A.E. and K.E. Chapman, The anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects of glucocorticoids, recent developments and mechanistic insights. Molecular and cellular endocrinology, 2011. 335(1): p. 2-13.

3.            Evans, S.S., E.A. Repasky, and D.T. Fisher, Fever and the thermal regulation of immunity: the immune system feels the heat. Nat Rev Immunol, 2015. 15(6): p. 335-49.

Social media and reality

I recently read an article in the Independent regarding a survey that Nuffield Health performed. They report that a third of 18-35-year olds lacked the confidence to join a gym and that social media contributed to this self-consciousness. So, is social media insightful and helpful for those wanting to join a gym? or does it produce a layer of expectation that a certain physical appearance is necessary? I began thinking about this and when, in my past life, I was a fitness manager.

When I worked in the health and fitness industry, I would see people of all different shapes and sizes coming into the gym or to classes. Some would come with full make-up and not produce a bead of sweat – putting me who is very much a sweaty Betty to shame. Others would come in wearing super modern kit compared to maybe an old pair of shorts and once-white t-shirt. Some users would appear with huge baggy T-shirts, whilst others would be wearing a thong over skimpy shorts – yes in the late 90s that was a thing.

BUT the important consideration, regardless of appearance, is that each person has their own reasons for going to a gym. Whilst it is very easy to judge, I was fortunate enough to interact with many of our members and very often I would get to know their story. I learnt very quickly that appearances are very deceptive.

Surprisingly to many, when talking to a few of the ‘skinny’ girls, I would learn that she was wanting to lose weight because when she looked in the mirror, she saw a fat body. This is the very real pain of living with an eating disorder (for males and females). These particular users had to be managed very carefully as their energy expenditure far exceeded their calorific intake leading to potential fainting fits and subsequent injury. Additionally, I would learn that other members, ate, vomited and exercised (not necessarily in that order) – a vicious cycle of distress.

I would talk to friends and colleagues outside of work, they wanted to lose weight before joining the gym – yes, this is very common and many will associate with this concept that you need to lose weight before joining a gym. Of course, the truth be told, the gym will accelerate this progress and provide so many more benefits at the same time. The most difficult step, is that very first step into the gym.

Often sessions would be cancelled, this may be because on a particular day the gym user did not feel comfortable in their own skin, whilst others would spend much time doing their hair and make-up before a session. I would hear comments about people wearing make up to the gym, what is the point?  well there any many people that do this to improve their confidence – or as I think of it, put their public mask on.

Of course, then we have the body builders – yes, they should celebrate their bodies but they are mighty intimidating for the users that are not confident with weights. The cacophony of grunts and snorts as they push themselves to max! This is an important component of training for some, I know a guy that is a power lifter and in order to succeed in his competitions, he doesn’t care how much anyone else is lifting, he is breaking his own body limits today! Weight lifting generally is an essential component of general health and fitness but not everyone needs to max out on the weights, it depends on personal preference. So, to the person that wants to have a go but has been putting it off, approach a gym member and ask them to show you the correct technique. Just pick a few exercises to start with and then add a few more as your confidence builds.

I personally have been the user that got off the treadmill feeling hopeless and went home because I felt so slow next to the user next to me. I completely get it, but I also know that the sprinter was probably focusing on his breathing, desperate to complete this scheduled and gruelling training run – the 4th of the week. I reflect on how I let my own assumptions that I was a rubbish runner, make me throw the towel in that day!  Walk, jog, run – it is OK just move and get that heart pumping.

Some users would just come in, get their head down and power through a session so they could get home again, whilst others came in for the social element and a good catch up alongside a workout. All in all there are very many reasons for people to gym – including but not limited to: goal-specific training, general health and wellbeing, weight loss/maintenance/gain, mental health management (definitely me!), injury rehabilitation, recovery from a heart attack or management of other health conditions such as diabetes, to pass a military fitness test, improve flexibility, socialising, to stick two fingers up at the ex – always loved to work with those users – and of course, just for fun. Whatever the reason, embrace it and go for it because trust me – with time your self-confidence will improve!

So, personally I believe that if someone is feeling confident enough to put up a post on social media – applaud them and help them celebrate their achievement. Like the post, tell them how great they are doing, ask them about their routine. Their post is by no means a reflection of you so, how you let their post make you feel about yourself is your own responsibility. If it makes you feel bad, do something positive and regain control of your confidence. You may not be that amazing person in the picture – but you are you AND you are amazing too!

The Kite Dance

by Tracey Evans

Tickled by fingers of the wind

bouncing on the tide of warm air

a tender massage

from exhalations of breath.

 

Soaring and diving

dancing and waving

swishing and swaying

in tune with nature’s melody.

 

In harmony with leaves

synchronised with trees

to the sound of the beat

of Mother Earth’s heart.

 

In the final breath

a tender embrace

a grand gesture and bow

in thanks for the dance.