One of the outcomes of the Covid-19 pandemic is that we have become increasingly focused on health and, in particular, the measures we can take to avoid becoming seriously ill with the virus.
Alongside the Government’s advice to wash our hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds using soap and water and to maintain social distancing, there are other steps we can take to increase our chances of being able to fight off the virus.
We know that people who prepare for surgery by getting as fit and healthy as they can beforehand have better outcomes. Now, clinicians from the Centre for Perioperative Care (CPOC) which developed the Fitter Better Sooner guidance, have issued the same advice to people to help them avoid becoming severely ill with the virus.
They suggest that eating a healthy diet, exercising, reducing alcohol intake and giving up smoking can reduce your risk of being admitted to intensive care with Covid-19. CPOC is based at the Royal College of Anaesthetists. Clinicians from different specialisms work together at the centre to improve the care and outcomes of patients undergoing surgery.
People at highest risk
People with underlying medical conditions are potentially at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 and need to take extra care, according to the Government website. These include people with diabetes, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions and those who are immunocompromised.
Reduce your risk through lifestyle choices
However, otherwise healthy people can also be at increased risk due to lifestyle choices and it is these areas that you need to address to stand the best chance of preventing yourself being hospitalised with the virus.
The Government’s chief medical advisor, Professor Chris Whitty advised people to quit smoking to bring down their risk and this is top of the CPOC’s advice too. Other changes you can make include:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet. This means ensuring you get your five-a-day portions of fruit and vegetables and avoiding too much salt, processed foods and sugar. Try reducing portion sizes to maintain a healthy weight.
- Take daily exercise in line with government guidelines. A brisk walk or cycle is ideal or you could follow an online exercise class. If you were accustomed to going to the gym before lockdown, exercising at home may take a bit of getting used to but there are plenty of exercises you can do to build your strength and give yourself a cardiovascular workout, including squats, leg lifts, pushups, planks and burpees. You can do a full body workout in under 20 minutes but make sure you use the correct technique to avoid injury. Due to current pressures on the NHS, the normal treatments for trauma injuries may not be available and it is important to avoid becoming injured if you can, as you may face a long wait for treatment. Now is not the time to take up a dangerous new hobby or to try and push yourself way beyond your normal abilities! Take it slowly and carefully.
- Cut down on alcohol and try to have some days in the week where you avoid it altogether.
- Get a good night’s sleep, which can help with both mental and physical health.
- Mental health is at risk during social distancing so taking steps to protect it can be very valuable. Getting outside in the fresh air is good, unless you are ‘social shielding’. You may also want to try online yoga or meditation, or connecting with friends via FaceTime, Zoom or the phone.
- Turning off the news or limiting how many times you tune in each day can be a good way to reduce anxiety levels.
As well as lowering your risk of becoming seriously ill with the virus, if you follow this advice you will feel generally fitter and healthier. Do take care to prevent injury, even more so than in usual circumstances. If you are unfortunate enough to injure yourself during the pandemic it is important to seek medical help and not to continue using a damaged limb which could lead to long-term problems.
Carrothers Orthopaedics Consultations
Carrothers Orthopaedics is still here for our patients during this time. Whilst treatment options have been restricted in previous months, we are still providing online consultations via Zoom or telephone, as well as face to face if the condition necessitates.
We are here for you to talk through your symptoms, provide diagnosis with imaging modalities and discuss the full range of treatments available to you.
Please contact us by telephone or email to arrange a consultation.