Regular physical activity can save your life

Regular physical activity can save your life

Andrea Smadja - C19 Tamar news

A new study shows that people who follow their activity guidelines are less likely to experience a COVID-19 outcome, such as being hospitalized, admitted to the ICU, or dying. We hope that these findings will encourage doctors and other healthcare providers worldwide to engage in conversations with their patients about physical activity, which has been a significant focus for our research team.

Unfortunately, the results of these and other similar studies are pretty promising, but an important question remains: Are we helping the most vulnerable populations take advantage of life-saving physical activity?

At least one comorbidity is present in 90% of all COVID-19-related deaths (including younger age groups). Comorbidity is a simultaneous presence of two or more medical conditions. Obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes are all linked to being inactive.

The frequent comorbidities listed on the COVID-19 screen indicate that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable people in our society. It is an urgent call to change the storey now to ensure that future generations can thrive and strengthen Canada’s health and resiliency.

As part of preventing and treating the associated comorbid conditions, everyone should have equal access to exercise. Health experts and doctors should prescribe various types of physical activity, making it easier for people to have it, and monitoring how it benefits patients.

For many, especially those with fewer advantages, the reality is that getting physically active is more complicated than it appears. Adoption of physical activity as a means of preventing and treating disease must consider the varying life experiences of individuals.

Some neighbourhoods are not suitable for outdoor exercise. Walking, running, and biking can be made difficult or dangerous by heavy traffic or high crime.

People’s socioeconomic status directly impacts how active an individual can be. It is possible for people who earn more money to lead more active lifestyles, which may provide additional health benefits, and for those who make less money not to have this ability.

For a single mother working multiple low-wage jobs, the additional resources and leisure time may not be available to make physical activity a priority. Access to parks and green space is frequently limited in low-income neighbourhoods. Additionally, people who go outside to exercise may have higher levels of crime, which could make people feel uncomfortable going outside.

Physical activity has become significantly more difficult for low-income communities due to the increased restrictions and barriers implemented during the pandemic. That may put populations with a heightened risk of severe COVID-19-related complications at an even greater risk.

Health protection includes reducing or eliminating barriers that widen the health inequity gap, such as societal barriers that disadvantage equity-deserving groups, such as women, racialize people, and Indigenous peoples.

A higher priority must be given to the accessibility of physical activity for all Canadians to build a more resilient and healthy country. A regular physical activity routine helps protect you from the damaging outcomes of being inactive, but doing the recommended amounts of physical activity by the Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology is nearly impossible for most people. Social inequality is more prevalent now than it has been at any point in history, which necessitates a focus on alleviating poverty and making it easier for those who are currently impoverished to partake in physical activity.

To address socio economic issues, governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations must consider socioeconomic factors that restrict an individual’s opportunity to engage. Interventions should seek to minimize the consequences of intergenerational economic, social, and racial inequalities while promoting health and well-being for all, especially in areas of lower socioeconomic status.

One practical way to increase people’s physical activity is to reduce physical barriers that inhibit walking and cycling, such as creating better street connectivity in cities where people find it difficult to walk or cycle due to heavy traffic.

It is not the lack of information that is the problem, but a lack of infrastructure and resources. “Physical activity has a central role in Canada’s active recovery from COVID-19,” said Canadian Senator Chantal Petitclerc and Member of Parliament Adam Van Koeverden in March. To encourage more physical activity in Canadians, they emphasized investments in sports and exercise and made it easier for people to travel locally.

The issues of accessibility are intertwined with social and economic inequality issues that the pandemic has raised to the surface. Ensuring  that physical activity is accessible to all Canadians is a duty and achieve it by removing barriers and identifying the social determinants of health.

In a word, this is our mission — to study the barriers and facilitators of physical activity and work collaboratively with health care providers and the public (e.g., My Active Ingredient) to develop ways to support and promote physical activity.

Through the pandemic, we have an unprecedented opportunity to examine the impact of physical activity and social disparities in new and insightful ways. We now have the opportunity to impact the lives of current and future generations. When the guidelines related to physical activity are relevant and can be accomplished anywhere, we can start to foster an inclusive environment where all Canadians can lead healthy and active lifestyles—and in addition, prevent additional outcomes resulting from the pandemics that may already be underway.

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