The Benefits of Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle — Even in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, people all around the world face difficulties in maintaining a physically active lifestyle. The deadly pandemic has caused panic and precaution, forcing people, cities, and even countries to go into quarantine. Because of this, some methods of exercise have been withdrawn from the public, such as gyms and pools. However, physical activity is vital to maintaining both physical and mental wellness.


Moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with better immune function. There are many theories about how exercise strengthens immunity, though they have yet to be proven accurate. One example of such theory is that the brief rise in temperature during and right after a period of exercise can change the environment of the harmful bacteria living in your body and prevent them from reproducing and growing. This theory sprouted from the idea of what happens when a patient has a fever. Even though these theories haven’t been proven accurate, there nonetheless are studies that show that exercising can help strengthen a person's immune system. “A large study showed that mild to moderate exercise performed three times a week reduced the risk of dying during the Hong Kong flu outbreak in 1998. The Hong Kong study was performed on 24,656 Chinese adults who died during this outbreak. This study showed that people who did no exercise at all or too much exercise over five days of exercise per week were at greatest risk of dying compared with people who exercised moderately” (Hew-Butler, 2020).


Although the evidence is limited, there are results that attempt to prove that exercising three days a week can better prepare an immune system to be able to fight back a viral infection, which is exactly what COVID-19 is. In fact, a study conducted on mice examined the result of exercise when already diagnosed with the flu. “82 percent of the mice who exercised 20-30 minutes a day during the incubation period, or the time between getting infected with flu and showing symptoms, survived” (Hew-Butler, 2020). Therefore, it is vital that, especially during times like these, everyone is able to find a good balance between no exercise and too much exercise in order to ensure a strengthened immune system against this virus.


Exercising releases chemicals called endorphins that can make a person feel happier. If a person exercises on a regular basis, it is likely that he or she will have reduced stress levels and lowered symptoms of mental health. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has caused much anxiety and stress in all age groups, it would be helpful to exercise to be able to relieve stress and enhance positive mood. For many teens, it is a struggle to keep up with standardized exams and grades while school has been closed all around the world for weeks. In order to cope with this stress, students should attempt to exercise 20 to 30 minutes daily. Exercising can also help students with their studies because it helps with circulation and supports blood flowing to the brain, which can help mental clarity. Furthermore, exercising has been proven to increase the size of the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory. Through the benefits of exercise, it is possible to strengthen your mental health and lower your stress levels.


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References:


"Exercise and Mental Health." Healthdirect, Nov. 2019, www.healthdirect.gov.au/exercise-and-mental-health. Accessed 15 Apr. 2020.


Hew-Butler, Tamara, and Mariane Fahlman. "How Much Should You Be Exercising during the Coronavirus Pandemic?" Science Alert, 23 Mar. 2020, www.sciencealert.com/should-we-be-exercising-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic. Accessed 15 Apr. 2020.


"Staying Active during the Coronavirus Pandemic." Exercise Is Medicine, 24 Mar. 2020, www.exerciseismedicine.org/assets/page_documents/EIM_Rx%20for%20Health_%20Staying%20Active%20During%20Coronavirus%20Pandemic.pdf. Accessed 15 Apr. 2020.


Vorvick, Linda J. "Exercise and Immunity." MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, 14 Jan. 2018, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007165.htm. Accessed 15 Apr. 2020.


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