Carvings March 1, 2021
In the news
A pandemic within a pandemic: can we put a stop to both? COVID-19 is the worst infectious pandemic in the last century. To date it has taken the lives of more than a half-million Americans, a tragic number. Could that loss have been avoided? To the frustration of many of the nation’s leading health authorities, the answer is yes. But the solution is to end another pandemic, diabesity, the combination of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
In a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association on February 25th. 2021, “the risk of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) hospitalization is robustly linked to cardiometabolic health.” By now most Americans are aware that comorbidities such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and diseases of the lungs and kidneys are found in nearly every instance where death occurred as a result of infection with this new coronavirus. But the study from Tufts University
School of medicine puts it in quantitative terms: sixty-three percent of hospitalizations are due to four factors – obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart failure.
As one of the authors put it, “If individuals exercised a little more and ate a bit more healthily, we would see improvements in diabetes and hypertension in just a few weeks. (Emphasis mine.) We should be shouting this from the rooftops.” Is that realistic? Of course, but the current mindset of our population makes that impossible.
Obesity is the driver of the other comorbidities and together with diabetes it lowers the effectiveness of the immune system, a fact that most persons are unaware of. Another unrecognized fact is that losing only about 15 or 20 pounds significantly lowers blood pressure and blood sugar and might possibly restore the effectiveness of the immune system.
Exercise alone won’t do the trick; meaningful weight loss only comes with reduction of calories although exercise does prevent the unnecessary loss of muscle tissue when calorie intake is reduced.
Here’s a sobering thought: persons who have received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine might be somewhat complacent about being safe from the disease. However, we know from our experience with the influenza vaccine that obese persons do not reach the same level of protection from influenza as persons of normal weight after vaccination. Could that be the reason that the current two vaccines are only about 95 percent effective instead of 100 percent? Is anyone looking at that?
There are some exercises that you should avoid. Arguably, running is one of them, primarily because running on pavement is hard on the body and is much more likely to result in stress fractures than walking does. If you like it, enjoy it but be aware of the risks.
If you use weights or machines, go easy on shoulder exercises. That is a complex joint, easily injured, and takes months to heal. The other upper body exercises that you do bring shoulder muscles into play without the risk of injury.
You don’t need to do dead lifts or exercises that cause you to extend your back. Those are for athletes and bodybuilders and just are not necessary for you to develop good muscle tone and add to bone strength.