ANALYSIS / OPINIONS:
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming presidential election, Americans are adjusting to the news to hear the latest numbers in both, however when it comes to COVID-19, there is another set of numbers that Americans should be aware of. – The number of virus taxes has taken over our physical and mental health.
Blockages across the country led people to be more sedentary, with a 32 percent drop in physical activity – a step backwards considering that America was already facing a health crisis with over 70 percent of adults considered overweight or obese. thick. In addition, a recent nationwide survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that more than half of adults in the U.S. – about 53 percent – say their mental health has been adversely affected by pandemic anxiety and stress. That number is a significant increase from the 32 percent who reported being similarly affected on Mars.
Physical activity plays a critical role in fighting the virus and improving the overall physical and mental health of people. Chronic health conditions affecting millions of Americans including obesity, hypertension and diabetes can cause complications and significantly increase the chances of hospitalization and death for those affected by COVID-19. Regular physical activity can protect us from these conditions while helping us fight the virus. You may not think you have time to squeeze in a workout, but researchers found that just 20 minutes of exercise can have anti-inflammatory effects that boost your immune system.
The mental health of our nation has also been affected – stress, anxiety and depression all increased during the pandemic. To cope with this, it seems that many Americans turned to alcohol, according to a study by RAND and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) which found an increase in consumption. As the study’s lead author and RAND sociologist Michael Pollard noted, “People’s depression grows, anxiety grows, [and] Alcohol use is often one way to cope with these feelings. “
Once again, fitness can play a role, diverting people from increased alcohol use and toward regular physical activity that are known to have long-term mental health benefits that reduce those conditions with which many are struggling now.
All of this underscores the critical need for regular physical activity in the lives of Americans – especially now at the time of COVID-19 – for the physical and mental well-being of our nation.
In reopening across the country, thousands of fitness centers have developed, in coordination with local and national public health officials, strict safety and sanitation protocols to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, as employees and participants wear masks. When required, observe social distance, and clean equipment.
Most Americans do not have the financial ability or space to accommodate fitness equipment at home, so policymakers need to have an eye toward keeping fitness centers open, especially as temperatures begin to cool across the country and air quality in The West Coast prevents people from exercising safely in nature.
Of course there are concerns about the safety of fitness centers. In the absence of a central fitness center data warehouse nationwide, the International Health Association, Rocket & Sportsclub (IHRSA) and MXM attempted to gather available data, gathering information from thousands of fitness centers and millions of visits of members fitness centers.
Of course, more studies are needed to analyze the effectiveness of COVID-19 protocols to protect public health and safety. Meanwhile, many fitness centers are taking the necessary precautions in accordance with the CDC and other local guidelines to do their part, while also providing an essential service to the public – enabling Americans to take care of their physical and mental health.
• Dr. Kenneth P. Moritsugu previously served as Deputy Chief Surgeon and Acting General Surgeon of the United States.
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