The recent easing of lockdown restrictions by allowing people to make unlimited trips out of doors should provide a range of valuable health benefits.
Being close to nature and being able to exercise more regularly can boost mental health, as can the ability to meet one individual from another household in a park – using social distancing.
Physical health may also benefit in a way that directly increases the chances of effectively combating COVID-19, as people can access more sunlight and indulge in a range of pursuits that can help them lose weight.
Although there’s currently no actual cure for COVID-19, and social distancing and proper hygiene are the only sure measures you can take to prevent you from catching the disease, losing weight and gaining access to sunshine could increase the chances of surviving it and of reducing its severity.
Sunlight, absorbed via the skin, provides a crucial source of Vitamin D3, which can help with the immune system and is widely understood to protect against respiratory illnesses in general. Although research into whether it specifically helps the body fight against COVID-19 is still ongoing, many experts are confident that it can.
Twenty minutes of sunshine may provide the required daily intake of Vitamin D3, although those with darker skins or who shield themselves from the sun by wearing a lot of clothing may have more difficulty absorbing it.
There are also many days when sunshine is non-existent or in short supply, and not all individuals have the time or physical mobility to pop outside even when it is plentiful.
So it is important to realise that Vitamin D3 can also be obtained from foods like oily fish – such as salmon, herring, sardines and mackerel – and red meat and eggs.
Alternatively, those who are concerned that they may have a Vitamin D3 deficiency can consider taking an appropriate vitamin supplement. These are widely available in chemists, supermarkets and health shops.
But it is important to stick to a safe dose. Public Health England says that 10 micrograms a day should be enough to keep us healthy, and experts warn that taking more than 100 micrograms a day could be harmful.
There is also a strong school of thought that being overweight increases the chances of COVID-19 becoming a serious or fatal condition although, once again, research into the subject is still very much ongoing.
There will be particular interest in the results of the review announced on May 4th by Public Health England into how obesity and other factors like gender and ethnicity impact health outcomes from the disease.
But, according to an article published in The Times on May 15th, Boris Johnson is in little doubt that his own condition deteriorated because of his weight – said to 17 ½ stone when he was admitted to hospital.
There is also no shortage of research suggesting such a link. For example, on May 7th a study of 430,000 NHS electronic health records from Glasgow University found that being obese doubled the risk of hospitalisation because of severe coronavirus symptoms.
Worryingly, many people are blissfully unaware that they are obese – which is officially defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of over 30. Even those with a BMI of over 25 are considered overweight, and possibly at risk.
Some of the correlation between obesity and COVID-19 fatalities can be explained by the fact that overweight people are more likely to have underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer.
It is also more difficult to transport, position and place tubes in people who are obese and to obtain diagnostic imaging – as imaging machines have weight limits. And overweight people often need more oxygen than normal and have reduced lung capacity.
Additionally, there are arguments that being overweight can hinder the diaphragm from functioning properly, compromise the immune system and contribute to inflammation.
Many benefit providers are now wise to the fact that supporting employees to make healthy lifestyle choices improves benefit take up, and claims statistics so if you want to find out more about how Chase de Vere can help you, help your workforce to become healthier then do get in touch.
Understanding of these topics is likely to increase in the coming weeks and months but for the time being anyone who tries to shed a few pounds and get a little sunshine may be giving themselves the best possible chance of coping with COVID-19 should they have the misfortune to catch it.
Content correct at the time of writing and is intended for general information only and should not be construed as advice.