In Times of Peace
America is at war with the corona virus. Our best defense is a vaccine, but that weapon is 12 to 18 months away. At present, we are focused on “social distancing” to reduce the number of severely ill citizens we have to manage at any one time. The hope is that less proximity will limit the transmission of the virus and reduce the stress on the health care system. The duration of this strategy is uncertain and the trade-offs with other aspects of our communal wellbeing have become a concern. To my friends from the now shuttered Fenton Fitness, I have a short message.
Exercise is the optimal booster of the immune system. My physical therapy colleagues often comment on how much better a prepared body recovers from a disturbance. Fit people rebound faster from bacterial, viral, surgical, or medical challenges. It is estimated that 60% of us will have to recover from the coronavirus before we reach a victory status of herd immunity. Keep your immune system prepared and continue to exercise.
The gyms are closed and social distancing has been ordered. The community aspect of fitness is gone. Human DNA has been shaped by the biological success that living in a community conveys. We know that isolation lowers the immune response and interaction builds immunity. Social distancing may decrease aerosol microbial transmission, but it is does nothing to improve well-being.
Say a prayer.
Pray that our leaders make the right decisions. They are operating with incomplete information. How many people have already recovered from an infection? How many are currently infected? Will the virus mutate? Someone is going to have to make the difficult decision that weighs lives lost against economic activity. I would not want that job. Pray for a medical cure. From 1918 – 1954, America lived every summer with the fear of polio. The polio virus paralyzed children and sent them into Iron Lungs. In 1955, Dr. Salk and his revolutionary vaccine provided a cure. President Eisenhower cried when he met Dr. Salk. Say a big prayer because bad behavior tends to get a foothold during times of social stress. My grade school Felician Sisters had lived in Eastern Europe during World War II and reminded us to be wary of evil.
In this war, America needs citizens with battle ready immune systems and rapid recovery. If we have to pick soldiers to send onto the viral battlefield, the best place to recruit is the local fitness facility. Fit individuals with robust immune responses are the microbiological special forces that can fight through a viral skirmish and remain unscathed. Remember that the majority of healthy people contract the coronavirus and experience little or no symptoms.
We should remember this event and prepare for future microbiological threats. If you have the time watch the prophetic 2015 Ted talk given by Bill Gates. Watch the Ted Talk here
Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS