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From the Blog

Another Reason to Eat Breakfast

‘It’s the most important meal of the day.’ ‘I fast and don’t eat until noon.’ ‘I’m never hungry when I wake up.’ ‘I train in the morning and feel nauseous when I eat before.’ ‘I’m so rushed in the morning I don’t have time to eat.’

Maybe you’ve heard, or used one of these before? Because when it comes to breakfast there are more options and opinions compared to lunch and dinner.

Breakfast is kind of in a category by itself. But may it deserves a little more attention and priority.

We’ve written previously here how nutrients are used differently in the morning compared to the rest of the day. We are also more likely to overeat at dinner compared to breakfast. And those that lose weight, and keep it off, are more likely to eat breakfast.

And now a new study suggests skipping breakfast may leave us lacking in certain nutrients.

The study looked at the diets of 30,000 Americans and found them to be missing the calcium in milk, the vitamin C from fruit, the vitamins, minerals and nutrients in fortified cereals, and were never made up during the day.

So when you don’t eat breakfast, you miss out on certain nutrients, which you don’t get later in the day and this creates gaps in the nutritional profile.

Low levels of calcium, fiber, potassium and vitamin D, as well as iron for expectant mothers, can lead to health problems including weak teeth and bones, digestive issues, cramps and anemia. For children, nutrient deficiencies can impact cognitive function, concentration and lead to behavioral issues.

In this study a little over 15% of participants admitted to skipping breakfast. Missing this meal meant lower levels of folate, calcium, iron and vitamins A, B, B2, B3, C and D. And breakfast skippers tend to eat lower quality nutrition for the rest of the day. This was because those not eating breakfast would eat more carbs, sugar and fat from the extra snacking during the day. Those eating breakfast were less likely to snack and indulge in these extra calories and lower quality foods.

If you’re already in the habit of eating breakfast, that’s great. Keep it up. If you’re not, hopefully you’ll give it another shot. Your health, performance and weight loss will benefit as a result.

Not sure what to eat for breakfast? Reach out to one of our coaches here and we can help you get started.

Reference

Fanelli, S., Walls, C., & Taylor, C. (2021). Skipping breakfast is associated with nutrient gaps and poorer diet quality among adults in the United States. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society80(OCE1).

The Bachelor and Your Fat Loss

Do you watch The Bachelor?

If you’re not familiar, this is the ABC show that involves a young bachelor dating 25 young women to find his future partner. And there is a comparable franchise, The Bachelorette, where the set up is the opposite and the 25 suitors are men vying for the hand of one fair maiden.

Contestants on the show spend six weeks living in a mansion during which time there are a variety of challenges, dates and other opportunities to compete for an engagement ring at the end.

There have been over fifty seasons of this show since 2002. And although the goal at the end of each season is to have two young people get engaged, the long term success of these couples is about 10%.

Shocking, right?

While on the show contestants have time off from work and family commitments, they are whisked around the world on private jets, staying in luxury resorts, enjoying gourmet meals all while living in a mansion in Southern California staffed with chefs, maids, chauffer and stylists.

Once the show ends all of these amenities and perks end. The clock has struck midnight for Cinderella and the day-to-day grind resumes.

Is it any surprise 90% of these relationships fail? This is completely ignoring the fact that the best relationships take time, and not just six weeks, as is the time frame for this show.

The Bachelor relationships fail because:

  • All stress is removed from the individual’s life
  • The end goal is fast-tracked
  • Contestants focus on the end goal of getting a rose and then a ring
  • All the experiences during the show are the best you’ll have in life
  • People act differently in front of the camera
  • Everyone shows their best side and tries to hide their warts
  • Alcohol typically worsens decisions and relationships

The reason The Bachelor fails is very similar to the reason many people fail with their fat loss efforts. They wait to get started until all conditions in their life are ideal.

This could be when they’ve got some time off work. It could be when the kids are away for a while. It might be when they’ve come into a financial windfall. Or any other variety of reasons where life is as good as it gets.

And that’s the problem.

We cannot approach the process of fat loss as a best case scenario. If we do than we are doomed to fail.

What this means is that there will be times when:

  • Work is busy
  • Family and life commitments pile up
  • Sleep is lacking in quality and quantity
  • Motivation and accountability bottom out
  • Our nutrition and supplementation are off track
  • We don’t have a coach or training partner
  • The things that help us achieve fat loss goal are lacking

So what we need to do is get started when conditions aren’t ideal. When are you busiest? When is your stress the highest? When will committing to a health and fitness lifestyle be the biggest challenge for you?

Figure this out and start then.

It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be intense. You may not set records or get a ton of shares on social media.

But you will be establishing a habit. You will be building a foundation. You will generating positive momentum that spills over to other areas of your life. For example, a 10 minute mobility routine will lead to a better nutritional choice. A walk around the block after dinner will encourage better sleep. A bike ride to work will help increase blood flow and a positive mood to start the day.

There’s nothing wrong with initiating a healthier lifestyle when things are going well in life. But you need to develop the strength of commitment to withstand the challenging times in life.

No one would ever say about brushing their teeth ‘I’m too busy right now. I’ll get started when things settle down.’

This would be a crazy proposition. You make the time and invest in things that matter i.e. your relationships, your family and your health. And the more battle tested these things are during the tough times in life the stronger they become.

So question for you???

Do you have a health and fitness goal that you haven’t achieved because conditions aren’t ideal?

If this is the case, see this as an opportunity. You can get started when things are tough and crush it when everything gets better. The alternative is to put off getting started which delays results, and you won’t be ready for the tough times to come.

Reach out to one of your coaches here if you’d like to take advantage of this opportunity and start living a better life now.

Relief of Morning Back Pain

There’s a story I heard about a special family pot roast recipe. And the recipe would include the type of meat required, the ingredients needed, how long to cook the meat and at what temperature.

And one of the steps involved cutting six inches off the end of the roast before placing it in the roaster.

Every family that had a copy of the recipe for this special meal would follow the instructions to a tee. It was such a delicious and memorable meal to enjoy that no one dared making any changes or substitutions.

One year when the family had gathered for a holiday meal the question was posed to grandma, ‘ why do we cut six inches off the end of the roast?’. And grandma’s answer was that otherwise the meat wouldn’t fit into the roasting pan.

There can be other things in life where what we’ve been told or always believed isn’t actually the case. Or sometimes not even necessary.

For example, think about what you’ve been told about low back pain. It used to be we were supposed to spend the day in bed and not move. And once we were able, we were then encouraged to do some stretches to prevent a future occurrence. Neither of these are the best plan to help with low back pain.

More specifically, a number of people may have back pain in the morning. This can happen because we’ve been in bed for up to 8 hours and the vertebral discs are unloaded and not subjected to the same vertical force of gravity. Without the vertical loading on the discs while sleeping the discs can accumulate fluid and swell, increasing their size. A larger disc then has less physical space to the adjacent vertebrae. With less physical space between the disc and vertebrae, normal movements done at this time can result in back pain.

Besides the swelling of the discs other reasons to be cautious with morning movements include:

  • When we don’t move, we have less mobility. The joints where we normally need to move, i.e. ankles, hips and thoracic spine, are less mobile when we’ve been static for a number of hours.
  • If you are a stomach sleeper you may be putting additional stress on the low back.
  • A mattress that is too soft may not be providing the support needed and the body may be sinking into an un-natural position during sleep.

If you do experience low back pain in the morning, give the following a try:

  • Hold off on the toe touches and hurdler stretches first thing in the morning.
  • Go for a walk. This helps get the hips, ankles and t-spine moving, increases circulation and helps dehydrate the discs of the additional water taken on during the night.
  • If your mattress is more than 10 years old, and you have back pain, it may be time to see if a new one would provide some relief.

Once you’ve been awake and loaded (i.e. standing) from some time you can ease into some light activity. The combination of less swollen discs, increased circulation and mobility will allow you to move well and avoid putting undue stress on the low back.

These are just a few of the things to do, and not do, if you experience low back pain to start the day. For more suggestions and solutions specific to your needs and goals make sure to connect with one of our coaches or trainers at the link here.

Running Out of a Rut

Even athletes will sometimes find themselves in situations when they don’t feel like training. This can be after a long playoff run. It could be during the rehab of an injury. Or it could near the end of a career when the drive just isn’t the the same as it once was.

So what do you do to overcome a rut? How do you get going when you have no momentum? What helps you develop inertia to fuel future efforts?

Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the first step. And trail running offers a great analogy to help us get going.

Here’s how.

1 – The Arms Are the Drivers

If you’re a runner you’ll know how important the arms swing is for success. The arms help propel us and help us maintain balance. And because the arms don’t have to overcome the same resistance to gravity and are shorter levers than the legs, they can dictate the cadence of our stride.

What this means is that our legs will follow the speed of our arm swing. Want to move your legs more quickly? Swing your arms faster.

This is a great technique when climbing hills and near the end of races when fatigue may limit how quickly we can turn over the legs.

There will be something health-wise that comes easier to you than most. Maybe you are really good at meal planning. Maybe you are good at getting yourself to sleep on time. Maybe you are always punctual. Maybe you are good at keeping notes and journalling.

All of these things lead to success. The key is to do what you’re good at to start. Other positive habits will spin off from the good effort you are making in another area of your life.

2 – Lean Into the Hills

When I go for a trail run I typically lean forward slightly on climbs. This helps me maintain balance and get the best push to get up the slope.

In marketing, there’s an expression about ‘leaning into’ something. For example, if you blog and are married with kids, have a dog and like Seinfeld you should tell this story when you write.

But the other aspect of leaning into something means to tackle your goals head on. If you’re injured, you need to rehab the injury before you can get stronger, more powerful or faster.

Imagine if we were talking about improving a student’s GPA in school. If in every class they had a 90% average and one class was a 50%, there is more potential to increase the overall GPA if they focus on the class where they’re getting 50%. The same is true with training. If all we focus on are our strengths, our overall results won’t be nearly as good than if we put serious attention to where we need it the most.

3 – Getting Started Changes Things

Have you ever had a preconceived notion about something? And as things started to develop around that notion you were looking for ways to prove you were right in your thinking? In research this can be known as a confirmation bias.

Recently I was out for a bike ride with some neighbours. And near the end of the ride we had the option to take some back roads home or take the rail trail. I really wanted to avoid the rail trail as it’s less direct and can be very busy on weekends.

As we were rolling along we kept getting caught up in groups not paying attention and breaking our rhythm. In my mind I was thinking ‘see I knew we should have avoided the rail trail!’.

Soon after we linked up with some other friends that are really good cyclists. I was able to ‘grab their wheel’ and draft off them for a good while. When we got to the next stop at a light I noticed I was smiling and had really enjoyed the last segment. And I had totally forgotten that I wanted to skip the rail trail and go the other way.

4 – Let the Pace Come to You

When I went to university in Regina there would be winter days when your car just wouldn’t start. It wasn’t uncommon to have to plug your car in during the day and maybe need a jump from a friend after class.

Your car wouldn’t normally start the first time you turned it over. And once it did start you had to let it warm up for a bit before hitting the road.

When we want to get back into exercise we need to ease into it. When I go trail running I’ll do a few laps. And the first one is always a slow trot before everything starts to warm and loosen up. By going slow at first there’s a better chance I can finish fast(er) at the end.

The same is true for our training in the gym. Be patient with the process. You’ll get better results and have fewer setbacks if you take the needed time to realign your posture, open up your mobility and stabilize your core. Alex Van Nieuwkerk took this approach when he started back a couple of months ago and is now killing it with his training.

So to summarize…

  • Find an area of your health and fitness that easier for you i.e. similar to swinging from the arms to build speed.
  • Go after your biggest deficiencies first and tackle them head-on i.e. like leaning into a steep hill.
  • If at first you don’t enjoy the process, be patient and give it a chance. You won’t be at this phase of your training forever and you may just find something about it that you enjoy i.e. like riding the rail trail.
  • Start slow to finish fast. Rushing back into a training routine can be a recipe for poor results and potential injury i.e. similar to letting your car warm up in the winter.

5 Ways to Get Lean – With No Dieting or Exercise

Abs are made in the kitchen. You just to need to move more. Weight loss is 90% nutrition. Consistency is key, don’t skip a workout. You can’t out-train a poor diet.

Maybe you’ve heard some of these sayings before. And maybe you know a few others.

We hear them all the time, don’t we?

And the truth is that in order to get lean, exercise and nutrition matter. But sometimes we’re making consistent, intense efforts and yet the pounds don’t melt off.

This is when we tend to hear a number of the other comments including:

I have a slow metabolism. I have a thyroid condition. It’s my genetics.

And for some, these may apply.

But before we throw our hands up and wave the white towel we should know that while exercise and nutrition are important for weight loss they aren’t the only players in this game.

Visit healthyw8 and use the body fat calculator then check below five more things to try if achieving a lean physique is your goal.

  1. Reverse Your Eating Schedule

Do you eat breakfast? A number of people will say no to eating in the morning and cite no appetite, no time or that they use intermittent fasting. The truth is that those who lose the most weight eat breakfast. And they eat more protein at breakfast.

More interesting still is that we’re starting to understand our chronotypes and circadian rhythms. Our bodies use and store nutrients and calories differently depending on the time of day. In the morning, our bodies convert calories from food to glycogen for use right away. And we are more likely to burn these short term energy stores during the work to come. At night however we are more likely to store these calories as fat rather then burn them.

Making this even more problematic is that many North Americans will tend to overeat at dinner. A better approach would be to eat more at breakfast, less at lunch and the least at dinner. This also helps with better sleep and encourages appetite upon waking in the morning.

2. Get More Sleep

When we hear recommendations for nutrition and exercise we are quoted the minimums, not the ideal. For example, 150 minutes per week of exercise is the starting point not the ultimate goal. And for sleep we need to get at least 7 or 8 hours per night (more for younger athletes).

When we are sleep deprived good things drop. This includes things such as our blood sugar, our production of growth hormone, our mood, our sensitivity to insulin, the ability to resist temptation and the hormone leptin.

A lack of sleep also increases negative things in our bodies including cortisol (stress hormone), the breakdown of our lean mass (muscle), our bodyfat and bodyweight, an over-stimulation of the reward center of our brain and the hormone ghrelin.

To keep your muscle mass, control your cravings, have more stable blood sugar and even moods, make sure to get the best sleep you can every night.

3. Take Care of Your Bacteria

Our gut biome consists of hundreds of different types of bacteria numbering a few billion of these in our gastro-intestinal tract. Some of the bacteria, gram positive, help us maintain health and others, gram negative, cause illness and disease.

Ideally we’d like to keep our healthy bacteria as plentiful as possible but certain things can diminish their prevalence. Poor nutrition, i.e. processed, sugary and fried foods, can disrupt the balance of good to bad bacteria in our gut.

But even when we’re eating as healthily as possible we can still inadvertently disrupt the gut biome. If you’ve had to take anti-biotics this wipes out many of the bacteria in the body, both good and bad. If this is the case for you, look to eat a diet more favourable to your gut bacteria for the next while. A round of anti-biotics can take 6 months to restore so this should give you some idea as to how impacting antibiotics can be on our bacteria.

Be aware that gram negative bacteria flourish when we consume low quality nutrition such as fried, sugary, refined and processed foods. Extra care should be taken with consuming these when on a round of antibiotics.

4. Pump Up the Parasympathetic

Recently my wife and I were walking the dog. And we met some new neighbours from the East coast of the USA. They said they were really enjoying the West coast lifestyle as the eastern USA is all go-go-go. When we’re always in the state of pushing and looking to achieve more we can end up in a sympathetic state.

With too much sympathetic stress, i.e. fight or flight, our cortisol levels can rise. And with this we can see an increase in our hunger or cravings, a decrease in our metabolism, a drop in our energy, impaired sleep and difficulty on maintaining focus on our goals.

A few things we can do to restore the balance to our stress include:

  • journalling
  • going for a walk and getting some vitamin D
  • watching a fun show or movie
  • hanging out or even just talking to a friend
  • finding some quiet time to meditate, listen to music or read

The last thing to keep in mind regarding stress, is that the time we feel we can least afford to take a break is the time we need to take a break the most.

5. Keep Score

Sometimes I’ll take the dog around the block for a walk. Other times we’ll head above our house and go for a run. It’s not overly long, maybe 30 minutes. And although I’m not timing or measuring our workouts I know Poppy (our puppy, 1 year) and I are getting fitter and faster. For the first few weeks there would be a lot panting and slurping of water for about an hour after our run. Even Poppy was tired and thirsty. Now when we get back we’re both recovered within a few minutes and ready for more play or work.

The point is that if I was serious about getting faster with my running I would measure it. I would use Strava and see my splits for the various segments. I would know the total distance, elevation and my pace. And of course I would time myself and be striving for a PB from time to time.

But I don’t do these things and so I delay my progress.

This is true of everything in life.

Want to get your financial house in order? Start by checking to see where the money goes each month? Often times we’re surprised to see that our perception of reality can be quite different from where things actually are. For example, we might think we spend about $30 per month going for coffee and this number is actually $54, or 80% greater than our estimate.

What matters gets measured. And for the best long-term sustainable results measure something associated with the process. For example, how many hours of sleep do you get every night? How many days per week are you active? How many days per week do you eat breakfast?

There’s nothing wrong with measuring an outcome goal i.e. weight loss, bodyfat, tape measure etc. But you’ll have better overall results that last if you change your focus to the process and measure this.

If your nutrition and training are as dialed in and intense as they can be and you’re not seeing results try one of the five tips above. By trying one a time you’ll know which one made an impact. Give it two to three weeks and then layer on the next tip. It may take time but you will get there.

The Case for Strength – Sprinting and Vertical Jump

Sprinting and vertical jump performance are important skills in the game of soccer. In terms of sprinting, a soccer player will sprint every 90 s during a match. These sprints average about 2-4 seconds and can account for up to 11% of the distance covered during a match.

And with vertical jump performance think of all the times a player will go up for a header, off a corner or as a keeper exploding up to deflect a ball over the cross bar.

So while intuitively it makes sense that sprinting and jumping are important in soccer it would be beneficial to know how important they are. And from a strength and conditioning perspective, how important is a strength exercise like the back squat, to improving these qualities?

A group of researchers looked to answer these questions and called upon a Norwegian pro soccer club to participate in the study. 17 male soccer players from Rosenborg FC, average age 25 years, were put through a number of performance tests to see how what the relationship was between the 1 RM half squat with sprinting and jumping. Rosenborg FC is a top flight team in Norway having won their league a number of times and participating in the Champions League.

For the 1 RM back half squat players did barbell back squats to 90 degrees of knee flexion, adding load until a 1 RM was determined. Once they were warmed up, most players took three to six sets to determine their 1 RM.

For the sprint test, players ran from 0-30 m with photocell timing gates. Splits were recorded at each 10 m and the players rested 5 minutes between the two attempts. The best sprint time was included in the data presented.

And for the vertical jump a force platform was used to determine vertical displacement. Players jumped three times with a minute of rest between attempts. The best jump score was included in the data presented.

What they found was that there was a strong correlation to 1 RM half squat strength with sprint and vertical jump performance. In other words, the strongest players, as determined by lifting the most during the 1 RM half squat, had the fastest sprints and highest vertical jumps. The correlation between 1 RM squat and 10 m sprint was r=.94. The vertical jump correlated strongly with a r=0.78 and the 30 m sprint having an r=0.71.

The horizontal axis shows the 1 RM squat strength of the players increasing from L to R. The vertical axis shows the various performance tests including 10 m sprint (top L), 30 m sprint (top R), 10 m shuttle (bottom L) and vertical jump (bottom R). The tightly packed data of the 10 m sprint and vertical jump indicate stronger players sprint faster and jump higher. From Wisloff et al. (2004)

While it is important for athletes to train and be strong, this study indicates that squat strength is key for sprinting and jumping. As well, it appears that squatting is more important with shorter sprints i.e. 10 m v 30 m, and thus has an impact on acceleration and initial power. With jumping, power and vertical acceleration are particularly relevant for success with this athletic quality.

Reference

Wisloff U, Castagna C, Helgerud J, Jones R, Hoff J. Strong correlation of maximal strength with sprint performance and vertical jump height in elite soccer players. Br J Sports Med. 2004;38:285–288.

The Case for Strength: Level & Playing Time

I remember back in high school playing basketball. And we had a coach that tended to go with the older players as starters and bring in the underclassmen as subs.

Looking back our coach probably had his reasons for his line-up. Older players would graduate soon and this would be their last year to play high school ball. Or maybe the older players had more experience and a longer relationship with the coach. And it’s possible that the older players were simply bigger and stronger and got more playing time as a result.

Seeing as how a year later, when I graduated high school, tipping the scales at a buck fifty, I wasn’t going to be intimidating anyone on the court with my physical presence.

But this didn’t help my competitive nature and desire to be a starter and on the floor getting more playing time.

Maybe if I were a little more on top of the literature back then I could have advocated for myself by hitting the weight room a little more frequently. Actually, who’s kidding who? I never hit the weight room at all as a high school athlete. But I probably should have.

Because the truth is that stronger athletes:

  • play at a higher level
  • get more playing time

But this isn’t just an opinion but findings from a research study by Fry & Kramer (citation below) that looked at a number of performance tests of American college football players playing NCAA Division I, II and III. In total 19 NCAA programs participated in the study involving almost a thousand players (n=981).

The authors of the study looked at five performance tests and compared this to level of play (i.e. Division I, II or III) and playing time (starter v. non-starter). The performance tests they looked at included:

  • bench press (BP)
  • back squat
  • power clean
  • vertical jump (VJ)
  • 40 yard dash

The tables below show how players performed in the bench press (BP), squat, clean, 40 and VJ based on division. From left to right the three black bars represent Division I, Division II and Division III respectively.

Table from Fry & Kraemer (1991) showing performance tests compared to level of play. In each case higher level players performed better than lower level players i.e. D I > D II > D III.

So it’s pretty clear, that for American football anyway, the stronger you are the better chance you will be playing at a higher level.

Now what about within a level, is there a difference in strength between starters and non-starters? The tables below look at the same five performance tests and broke down the numbers to distinguish between starters and non-starters. The black bars represent starters and the gray hashed bars represent non-starters. The bars are paired based on level of play going from the left to right. i.e. the first two bars on the left represent starters (in black) and non-starters (gray hashed lines) at the D I level followed by the same arrangement for D II and D III players.

Table from Fry & Kraemer (1991) showing performance tests comparing level of play and starters v non-starters. In each case higher level players and starters performed better than lower level players and non-starters i.e. D I > D II > D III.

So if current Chris could go back in time and talk to high school Chris I’d be sharing the points above with him. And while the sports are different, i.e. football v. basketball, the evidence is quite clear. In almost all instance of performance measures, stronger players will get to a higher level and have a better chance of starting versus their weaker teammates.

Citation

Fry, A. C., & Kraemer, W. J. (1991). Physical performance characteristics of American collegiate football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research5(3), 126-138.

Exercise Adds Years & Purpose to Our Lives

We’re well aware of the many benefits of exercise which include better health, improved sports performance and stress reducer. And now we can add one more the list. And that’s that exercise helps give purpose to our lives.

A recent study from Harvard University observed over 14 thousand adults over 50 years for a four year period. What they found was that those that exercised more had:

  • more purpose to their lives
  • more meaningful lives
  • more happiness
  • more years i.e. longevity

How much and how frequently the subjects exercised was correlated to feelings of purpose. And those with purpose was associated with doing more exercise.

This makes me wonder if this a ‘chicken & egg’ type of scenario? Does exercise lead to purpose? Or does having purpose in your life cause you to want to exercise?

When exercise is lacking from our lives we have a decreased sense of purpose later in life. And with less purpose we are less likely to engage in physical activity.

So what we do we mean we speak of purpose? I remember hearing this described as belonging to something bigger or greater than ourselves. Maybe this is being a part of a church community, going on mission trips to under-developed countries or volunteering for a charity. What we may forfeit in terms of reward in these types of situations is replaced by a sense of purpose.

And when we have a stronger purpose in life we:

  • live longer
  • have less heart disease
  • are better protected against Alzheimer’s
  • have better pain management

Maybe you are not in a health crisis and are able to manage a healthy weight. But you sometimes wonder what you are supposed to do with your life and how to figure this out? The solution may be to get back into an active lifestyle to realize your purpose in life.

If this sounds like you and you’re ready to take control of your health and find purpose to your life make sure to connect with one of our coaches. We’d be happy to help.

Yemiscigil, A., Vlaev, I. The bidirectional relationship between sense of purpose in life and physical activity: a longitudinal study. J Behav Med (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-021-00220-2

Exercise is the best prevention to COVID-19

We’ve known for a while that exercise is good for our immune system. Active individuals are less susceptible to viral infections and inflammation.

A recent study looked at how COVID-19 affected adults based on their pre-existing levels of physical activity.

The study included 48,400 adults in Southern California that tested positive for COVID-19. The patients were assigned to one of three groups based on how much exercise they got each week. The first group would get 150 minutes, or more, of exercise each week. The second group was inactive and got from zero to ten minutes of exercise per week. And the last group was right in the middle getting between 11 and 149 minutes of exercise per week.

Each group was then tracked based on whether they were hospitalized, admitted to the intensive care unit or died.

What they found was that the individuals getting no exercise, i.e. 10 minutes or less, were 2.26 times more likely to be hospitalized compared to the group getting the most exercise. And for those in the middle group of exercise, i.e. 11-149 minutes, they were 1.89 times more likely to be hospitalized than those getting at least 150 minutes per week.

So that does 150 minutes of exercise per week look like? This is 30 minutes per day on weekdays. This would be similar to going for a run over the lunch hour for half an hour. Of the 48, 440 patients that tested positive for COVID-19, only 6.4% got this much exercise. 14.4% of patients did no exercise, or up to 10 minutes, each week. This leaves about almost 80% of patients that get 11-149 minutes of exercise per week.

Perhaps the most interesting finding of this study was the fact that physical inactivity was strongest risk factor with how severe COVID-19 would affect the individual. Physical inactivity is a greater risk factor than smoking, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and cancer.

This should be a wake up call to anyone that wants the pandemic to be over and to get back to what life used to like. If we want to see fewer hospitalizations, admittances to the ICU and deaths to the ICU we need to make sure we achieve a minimum level of physical activity i.e. at least 30 minutes per day.

Citation

Sallis, R., Young, D. R., Tartof, S. Y., Sallis, J. F., Sall, J., Li, Q., & Cohen, D. A. (2021). Physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes: a study in 48 440 adult patients. British journal of sports medicine.