Over 60, and worried about the Corona Virus? Get on a Bike!
Are you are over 60 and worried about the coronavirus (COVID19)? You should be. Much of the news media show that Corona Virus disproportionally affects older people. The fatality rate for patients 80 and older was seven times the average and three to four times the average for patients in their 70s. As widely reported, COVID19 continues to spread globally and the cases in the U.S. have now surpassed 550 with 22 confirmed deaths.
As the age of recumbent cyclists generally skews on the older side, you might also wonder how sick you might get. There are many guidelines about how to protect yourself (hand-washing, don‘t touch your face, etc.) but I was interested in how well my body might fight the disease if I get it.
The good news is that age-related death risk appears to be correlated to the strength, or weakness, of the respiratory system. Of those treated at Central Hospital of Wuhan, China researchers there reported that half the patients that died developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), in which fluid builds up in the small air sacs of the lungs. ARDS occurs generally in those that have weak or compromised immune systems. Hopefully, you have been putting in the miles and keeping those lungs healthy!
Another large study calculated how “co-morbidities” – existing illnesses – affected the risk of being admitted to intensive care, being put on a ventilator, or dying. After taking into account the patients’ ages and smoking status, researchers found that the 399 patients with at least one additional disease (including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, hepatitis B, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney diseases, and cancer) had a 79% greater chance of requiring intensive care or a respirator or both, or of dying. Intuitively this makes sense. The healthy you are the less of an impact COVID19 will have.
An interesting article about infections comes from the New York Times. The article answered the question “Does exercise fight off infections?”. While my spouse tells me that over-exercising decreases my ability to ward off viruses (as well as a couple of studies from the 80s) this is not the case as studies today refute this. A 2014 study of competitive, endurance athletes showed that they reported fewer annual sick days, indicating that their immune systems were not over-burdened by exercise but bolstered. The other point this article made was about the “germiness” of gyms. With so many people touching and sweating on dirty equipment, breathing heavy and other things not worth mentioning…most would agree the local gym can be a breeding ground for germs and viruses. On your bike, these issues largely disappear.
If COVID19 is in your area, stay home or better yet get on your Bacchetta and enjoy the fresh air! For your friends or relatives that need a comfortable, fun and outdoor way to exercise, please forward this article to them. If they reference this article, we will give them 10% off their next bike for as long as Coronavirus is an issue.! Stay healthy.