Current estimates are that over 14 million Americans have been infected with COVID-19. That number is growing exponentially due to uncontrolled spread of a virus that frequently presents asymptomatically, allowing healthy looking people to pass on the infection.
It seems likely many of us will contract this virus despite our best efforts to avoid it. If that is the case, the smart question to ask would be, “How do I increase my odds of surviving COVID?”
I would offer an analogy to guide our conversation. Imagine your health is a battery. Everything that you do pulls power from that battery to some degree. The amount of power in the battery is what lets you deal with stressors in your life.
Charging the Battery
Being active increases the size of your battery. There is a mountain’s worth of data that shows being active increases your energy, decreases chronic diseases and makes you resistant to disease. I deliberately said “being active” instead of “exercising” – walking 30 minutes a day, taking the stairs or just standing at your desk are all great examples of effective activity! Thirty minutes of activity per day will provide your health battery extra capacity to deal with whatever life throws your way.
Sleep is critical to health. Sleep is one of the most fundamental things our battery needs to recharge our health power. Studies show that getting less than six to eight hours of sleep per night increases your mortality by 110%! In our busy lives, it is easy to reprioritize our sleep time to something else that seems more important. Don’t do it. Sleep is critical.
Nutrition is the foundation of health. Study after study reports the same findings – “Garbage in, garbage out.” Our health is greatly influenced by our diet. More than 40 years of studies show that a diet that is heavy on plant-based whole foods and light on processed foods, meat consumption and alcohol intake consistently leads to lower body weight, less diabetes, and less heart disease.
Being consistent with addressing these three fundamental items – activity, sleep and nutrition – will ensure that you are maximally prepared to deal with any health stressors that come along!
Dr. Rob McNab, FACP, FACOI
Freeman Health System, VP of Medical Education
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