Over the next few weeks, you will hear stories of people infected with COVID-19 with varying degrees of symptoms. In general, older individuals seem to have a higher rate of more serious complications than younger people. However, a closer look shows that individuals with healthier cardiovascular systems, old or young, fair better than ones that don’t.
On average, Americans tend to be more sedentary, more overweight, and have a higher incidence of diabetes and heart disease than people from other parts of the world. Because of this, we are seeing a higher incidence of young people with more serious symptoms than observed in other parts of the world. Decreased cardiovascular health correlates with decreased overall lung capacity and a more likelihood of developing pneumonia from the coronavirus.
What are some ways to improve your cardiovascular health and increase your lung capacity? Going for a walk is a good start, but not necessarily as beneficial as doing more intense exercises in short bursts. Exercises that cause you to become short of breath for brief periods of time are essential in increasing lung capacity. Examples of this type of exercise are jumping jacks, sprints, and resistance exercises such as push-ups or squats. For individuals who need to start slower, exercises such as fast walking and doing repeated sit to stands from a chair may be a good starting point to build to more rigorous activities. No matter what your fitness level, find activities that leave you out of breath for 30 seconds – 1 minute after stopping the exercise.
Being more cardiovascularly fit will not prevent you from getting the coronavirus, but it may prevent some of the more serious complications of the disease.
Brian Delaune, PT