Health and wellbeing information in regards to Covid 19
Posted on 20th March 2020 at 19:53
The World is losing it's head, and we need to take notice.
“May you live in interesting times”
Sir Austin Chamberlain (not an ancient Chinese proverb as is often ascribed)
As we continue to live through the most challenging and adverse situation our generation has ever faced, it’s increasingly more important for us take extra care and caution, collectively we have a duty to reduce the spread of this virus and look after ourselves, our friends and our families.
Information is now a vital asset, anybody who want’s to help others by sharing information now has a duty to ensure that the info is valid, evidence based and most importantly, not the massive thundering clusterfuck of bullshit that seems to be doing the rounds all over Social media right now.
As a self-employed personal trainer with my own studio, I’ve already felt the hit of this thing. As I write this on March the 18th I have already lost nearly a third of my income this week from clients who either need to self-isolate or have needed to cut back on expenses because they are at risk of losing their job or their business.
I’ve already accepted and come to terms with this, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better and the whole of the World will need to take an economic hit. Unless of course you’re a happy go lucky trader, who’s betting against certain companies and making a nice tidy profit from this whole thing.
As a provider of Health and Wellbeing, helping to ensure that people are in best possible shape must be my priority, wellbeing is going to have to come before profit for many. Therefore, I will be endeavouring to provide factual evidence-based information which is within the realms of my professional capacity to try and help as many people as possible.
What follows are three general health and wellbeing tips we should prioritise on a wider scale followed by five personal suggestions to help individuals.
1. Take this thing seriously
If you’ve seen the film Jaws, then proceed with the 2nd paragraph, if not, then who the hell are you? And what have you been doing with all this spare time you now have? Go and watch the film right this instance and then come back, I’ll wait. Done? OK, now we’re all on the same page, lets continue.
So, Mayor Larry Vaughn, decides to keep the beaches open, against the advice from a pleading sheriff Brody. Cue families on the beach dancing and having a good time, whilst the kids go swimming, what could possibly go wrong?
That’s much of the public right now, and Covid 19 is a big shark getting ready to bite us on our arses. People are working from home during their 9 to 5, and then on their own time, going to pubs, attending mass gatherings and rubbing their naked bodies together whilst deliberately coughing on each other.
When Chief Scientific advisor sir Patrick Valance warns us that twenty thousand people dying from this is a best-case scenario, we should pay attention. Comparing this to the flu is no longer valid, do you remember all those years in recent history where we didn’t have an NHS winter crisis? No? that’s because the NHS has been predictably overwhelmed with a virus that we expect every year.
Whilst everybody is trying their best right now, there is no getting away from the fact that we are woefully under prepared for this. In Britain we have just twenty five hospital beds per thousand, compared to thirty two in Italy, the country that now has a highest global death toll from this thing. When the new chair of the commons health committee Jeremy Hunt urged the Government to act faster over the “surprising and concerning” performance of it’s efforts so far, he was speaking from experience. Under his watch the NHS lost around eight thousand beds.
As cases of covid-19 begin to dramatically increase, overworked hospitals won’t be able to deal with the usual day to day emergencies in the same way.
Responding to something like a heart attack will take longer because of measures being taken by paramedics and medical staff requiring additional PPE (personal protective equipment) when treating a potentially infectious patient. On another point, telephone advice when reporting a cardiac arrest will no longer advise mouth to mouth.
It’s also not helpful to think this is something that will just affect older generations, is it reasonable to not give a fuck about vulnerable elderly folk who in many cases fought for their country. Do the lives of our grandparents or parents no longer have any value? Or are we just waiting for them to shuffle of this mortal coil so we can be first into their house to steal their supply of toilet roll and tinned food?
In any case, this isn’t something that will ONLY affect the elderly. It’s still early days, so we don’t really know the true extent of just how bad or not so bad this will be, however current data as of 15th March 2020 is that 3.7% of people who contract this disease will die from it.
To give you some perspective on that, flu virus has a mortality of 0.1 percent, when SARS broke out in 2003 it started with a mortality rate of 3-5% and by the end it turned out to be 10%. We can only hope that the WHO is wrong about the current estimate of mortality figures.
The risk of death is dramatically reduced the younger you are however, young people are still dying from this, hence the need for everybody to take this seriously. We also don’t know what the long-term implications might be for people who survive this condition, it’s entirely feasible that people might develop breathing issues or heart vulnerability. Let’s hope not but consider it a possibility.
2. Follow government advice
During the 1918 flu (wrongly known as the Spanish flu) a bishop in Zamora, Spain, defied health authorities and ordered a novena (evening prayers) for nine consecutive days, in honour of saint Rocco, the patron saint of plague and pestilence. Each night, church goers would line up to pray and kiss a holy relic, which I’m presuming is not a euphemism. Can you guess which city in Europe went on to have the highest flu-related death rate of any other city in Spain or Europe? If you said Zamora then DING, DING! You win a multi-pack of toilet roll!
Of course these days, with all of our knowledge of such things, this is unlikely to happen again.
Not being an expert in infectious disease, with zero qualifications in immunology or virology, hasn’t deterred many plucky keyboard enthusiasts from commentating and offering up their opinions on how best to solve this whole situation.
For the sake of a public health message, I shall reiterate the advice on this.
If you develop a high temperature OR a continuous cough, then you need to go into isolation.
If you live alone this only needs to be seven days, if you live with others this should be fourteen days from the first day of infection. You’ll need to each have your own towels, drinking mugs and utensils which are regularly cleaned.
IF someone you live with is over seventy, pregnant or has a weakened immune system then try to avoid them as much as possible for fourteen days or find somewhere else for them to live if you can. I know that’s going to be impossible for many readings this, but that’s the advice.
Call 111 for help, your GP surgery won’t be able to do anything for you, but if need be you should call them for prescriptions, in many cases they are giving people double prescriptions, but remember you’ll need someone to pick it up for you and leave it outside your door or post through the letter box.
Isolation mostly means staying indoors and avoiding contact with anybody, have your shopping delivered (if its service is still running), you can’t go out to pick up prescriptions, you can’t go to the doctors. You can’t have friends’ round, it absolutely sucks.
If it’s any consolation, you are allowed to go in your garden, providing you have one, you’re also allowed to go outside for exercise, this might be an ideal time to go out to woodlands and forest, providing you stay at least two metres away from everybody, and if you need to cough, do so into your sleeve (not your hands)
When at home, try to regularly spray door handles, taps, and frequently wash your hands.
Once we managed to get through this whole thing, it’ll go a long way to benefit the health of everyone in society if everybody was to actually wash their hands properly and regularly.
A few years ago I visited a nursery as part of my work in a community health project, they had a U.V light which they shined on peoples hands after they had washed them to show the bits that where often missed. When it was my turn nothing showed up under the light, this is because not only do Royal Marines have super high hygiene standards, but my wife who is a nurse watches me like a hawk when I wash my hands and if I take anything less than 15 seconds she elbows me in the face and proceeds with a demonstration whereby she shows me how to clean between fingers, around the palms, add new soap and repeat all the while speaking to me like a toddler.
In any case, we’ve always been stringent around hygiene in our household and being self employed it’s always been helpful to not be so ill that I can’t turn up and earn a living.
A study which looked at ten of the Worlds leading airports found that only twenty percent of people had clean hands (meaning they had been washed for at least fifteen seconds within the last hour) and thirty percent of people didn’t wash their hands after using the toilet.
As if that wasn’t gross enough, of those who did wash their hands, half didn’t even do it correctly.
If measures where takin to improve this, it could stop the spread of disease by 37%.
Whilst supermarkets have sold out of hand gels, bars of soap still remain on the shelves, which is great, because these are actually much better for your hands, not only do some brands help moisturize your hands preventing them from drying up, but they also kill more bacteria than gel, as well as removing grease and dirt. (link)
On another point, those years I’ve spent social distancing are now finally going to pay off. I no longer need an excuse not to attend parties or events, because they’re all getting cancelled! Even if you don’t have a high temperature of cough, you still need to try and stay at least one metre away from all other people whilst your out. It’s fine to go for a walk, jog, so long as you keep out of everybody’s way.
These are all sensible measures, I wish there was something more specific we could all do such as eat more limes or hang upside down and loudly singing the national anthem whilst a chimp wearing a Fez hat throws anvils at you. But so far, we just don’t know enough about this disease to be able to offer anything other than sensible measures, the good news however, is that these sensible measures can go a long way in helping to combat this thing.
3. Look after others
We’re all going to need to rely on each other at this point, if you know somebody is in isolation and you’re able to help then give them a ring and ask if they ned anything picking up and taking to them. You can leave it at their front door, knock a secret Morse code message and then leave.
The need for co-operation has spurred evolution on both a cellular and wider society level. It allowed us to learn from each other, increased our chances of survival and improved the quality of our lives and of our societies.
There may come a time where you need to ask people if they can help you, don’t be afraid or too proud to ask. It’s important to seek support when you need it, this isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s shows courage and strength to overcome the stigma that most of us feel in asking for help.
How to look after yourself
1. Don’t be a fat bastard
We’ve had the contain phase, we’re now in the delay phase, soon we’ll reach the “oh shit the World is fucked, the economy has collapsed, those who are still alive are rioting in the street and shit’s getting real bad phase”, and then before long we’ll calmly and orderly form the “zombie apocalypse” phase. But don’t worry, there is a government plan for all of these phases, which mostly involves Boris pissing off to a mate’s private island to see this whole thing out on a sun lounger whilst getting spiffingly drunk.
At this point, as the zombies who used to be our friendly neighbours approach with rotting flesh dripping of their face, whilst speaking a croaky slow drooling “fleeeeesh” it’s going to be the fat people who get eaten first. I hope you’ve been practising social distancing cardio with all this spare time you now have.
Seriously if you’ve ever needed an incentive to be in shape, this is it. I get that the first instinct is to speed drink your stockpile of vodka within two weeks (or if your home schooling one week) but now more than ever is a great time to get in shape. You can work out from home if you need to, just a few press ups and squats will go a long way if done each day and consistently. Long walks, jogs, a workout program with any kit you have or with body weight or all viable options.
Cometh the hour, cometh the gender-neutral hero. Circumstances do not make the (once again)” non gender binding hero of this well-known saying”, they reveal him/ her or whatever. Somehow these don’t slip of the tongue so easy when we try to make them more PC?
The good news is that you don’t even need to have a diet focus, making your food last means smaller portions, less waste, fill up on more veg.
Got lots of biscuits, chocolate bars, angel delight? I know I have, most of it left over from my previous Brexit and election panic buys. Trick is to make it hard to get, don’t have it on the worktop where you have to walk by it a few times a day, put it in the back of a cupboard, put food on top of it, make it hard to get to. The more work you must do in order to get it, the less likely you are to indulge, make it a rule that you can only have one item at a time. Fill up on veg and fruit first (see point 3) or make these your healthier alternatives.
If you need to isolate, you can still go out for walks, find some countryside, keep at least a metre away from people and spend some time with nature. Not only is it relaxing (see point two) but it’s also incredibly good for your fitness.
If your working out currently, try not to over do it. At any other time of year, I would suggest sacrificing yourself on the altar of fitness and pushing your body to see what it can do. But right now, that just isn’t a good idea. Following a tough exercise session, your body’s immune response is compromised, so probably best just to ease off a little now.
2. Sleep and relax
Sleep does amazing things, it helps lower stress, it normalizes appetite response, and it improves immune system health. You ideally need at least seven and a half hours, usually I’d ignore this advice myself as there just isn’t enough time in the day to full fill my overly ambitious and optimistically unrealistic to do list. But right now, we need to prioritize health and wellbeing.
To help get a decent night’s sleep, try the following steps.
Keep your room tidy, a messy bedroom is disorderly for the mind. Reduce any light pollution where you can, try black out blinds if possible. A slightly cooler room improves sleep quality, having a small window open can achieve this.
A few small habits when practiced consistently can go a long way to helping improve sleep. Try having a bath or shower, reading a book, writing a short diary or to do list. A great idea to help with stress management is to try a gratitude list. Research has shown this to be an effective way of improving a person’s outlook for up to a month afterwards, and it only takes a few minutes.
Simply write down a list of just a few things to which you are grateful. They don’t have to be big things, they could be simple things such as someone smiling whilst your out or seeing a bird when you look out the window. It could also be that your grateful for your own health, or for the wellbeing of loved ones, or because you now have enough toilet paper to build a 2nd house with additional wings for the help.
Another mind I find useful is mindfulness meditation, there are lot’s of good resources for this, personally I really enjoy the Waking up App. This isn’t an ideal solution for everybody, but I think it’s worth exploring.
3. Eat veg, fruit
Your body is going to need it’s full supply of vitamins, minerals and anit-oxidants to be at its peak. Try to eat a wide variety of fresh fruit and veg each day, at least five, ideally more, tinned or frozen fruit an veg is fine.
A good way to do this and somethings that’s fun for kids to do, is to grab a load of veggies such as carrots, spinach, fresh ginger, cucumber etc, and then grab a few pieces of fruit, personally I often use bananas and frozen fruit. Then put it all on a table and try a smoothie workshop where everyone gets to make their own smoothie using whatever ingredients they like. You could also try adding natural yoghurt or cinnamon.
Exercise is a physical release for mental stress. When you move your release built up tension, your circulation increases and after a while you get those feel good chemichals called endorphins. Doing this often, can help you burn calories, lose weight, improve your mental health, reduce pain and feel tons more energetic.
It’s not a bad deal really. Any activity is good, be it gardening, walking, cleaning, playing (especially playing) or structured activity.
I’ve just created a free bodyweight workout you can do at home, over the next few weeks I'll be creating a lot more of these, check it out using this link.
If your looking for an immune boosting supplement that can dramatically improve your wellbeing and reduce your chances of catching this thing then I’m sorry, but there really isn’t anything proven to do that.
However as a standard line of defence and to have your body working at it’s optimal I always recommend the following to all of my clients throughout the year.
Lest I be accused of profiteering I should mention that these are affiliate links, I earn a small commission from Amazon if anybody makes a purchase, it doesn’t affect the price you pay, and in all honesty, you really don’t need these supplements, I just believe that they can help to support your body to work at it’s best by giving the nutrients it needs which are often lacking through diet.
Over the next few months I'll be posting more and more information as and when it becomes relevant. Whilst some gyms are closing my studio remains open, I work as a one man band, training clients in a clean sanitized environment. Currently I spray down all handles, equipment and workout areas before and arfter every client. If your interested in nutrition, exercise and general health and wellbeing info then please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay safe out there.
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