As of today’s date (June 2020), the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly abating. Countries and locales are gradually opening back up, performing a delicate balancing act between public health and local economies.
One place you are probably eagerly anticipating returning to is your local gym, but not no fast soldier. Before thinking about setting foot into a gym again, you need to ensure that you have your ducks in a row. The pandemic is NOT over by a long haul, even though things may be looking better in the short term.
So what should you do? Continue to atrophy from lack of physical activity? Not necessarily. But you can safeguard yourself and others around you by acting smart. Well timed supplements and other essentials can mean the difference between life returning to normal in a jiffy, or having to endure restrictions for many more months to come.
Consider these your post-quarantine essential list. Don’t risk your health without them.
Not surprisingly, many gyms that are opened or in the process of opening over the next week or two are making it mandatory for you to don the accessory that had defined the year 2020; your friend in safety, a mask.
We previously discussed the merits of the different types of masks, and owing to the fact that the pandemic is not fully over, and because there may still be many asymptomatic people in the gym at any one time, you should still opt for the one that provides maximum protection- the KN95/N95/P2.
Other options include surgical masks and cloth masks, although their protection lies on a sliding scale. Wearing a mask, however, does pose its fair share of challenges, with the major one being difficulty breathing during heavy perceived exertion. For this reason, be sure to take sufficient rest periods and ease up on the gas until you are comfortable with breathing.
If you had difficulty in finding vitamin C supplements for purchase over the last two months, you probably understand why. Although it does not definitely prevent any illness, it does possess real benefits for your immune system.
For instance, it reduces inflammation[i], which if left unchecked, has a negative effect on immune cells. Likewise, it can help you recover from symptoms of a cold faster[ii] , so you won’t be shunned if you do happen to sniffle in the gym.
Try to shoot for about 1000mg daily. This is definitely one of your primary tools when starting to hit the gym again.
Zinc has been an athlete’s friend for a long time now. Apart from raising your testosterone levels though, it also has a noticeable part to play in your immunity. For one, it contributes to the development of immune cells[iii].
Plus, zinc can actually help reduce your risk of picking up infections and stimulating a stronger immune response, especially in the susceptible older population[iv].
Even if you live in the desert, drenched in blazing hot sun, you might still be deficient in vitamin D. not to mention that it is unsafe to spend excessive amounts of time in the sun daily. Using a vitamin D supplement is a much smarted option.
People with lowest levels of vitamin D show correlation with higher risk of pathogenic infections, as vitamin D is associated with enhancing the function of several immune cell types[v].
Without needing to say it, you are probably aware that hand sanitiser is now an essential in your bags, pockets, and everywhere else. In the gym, this is going to be much more important. In a confined space where multiple people will be handling the same equipment and weights, you need to ensure that you sterilize both before and after use.
To effectively deactivate the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the hand sanitiser product you use should contain at a minimum 62% ethanol[vi], which, over the course of one minute can offer you great protection.
Supplements such as Echinacea, elderberry, Astragalus and garlic can also play a supporting role in helping to support immune health, but are not absolutely essential at this time. If you are cleared to use them (be sure to ask your Doctor or Pharmacist first), then by all means go head.
The gym itself should have several protocols in place for your protection. This includes installation of more sinks and washing areas, sanitising sprays between workstations, and capacity restrictions.
We also urge you to not “socialize” too much, and if possible train without a spotter in the interim. The pandemic will not last, but a lot depends on how well we work to break the chain of transmission.
[i] Rogovskii V. S. (2017). The Linkage Between Inflammation and Immune Tolerance: Interfering with Inflammation in Cancer. Current cancer drug targets, 17(4), 325–332. https://doi.org/10.2174/1568009617666170109110816
[ii] Hemilä H, Chalker E. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(1):CD000980. Published 2013 Jan 31. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub4
[iii] Prasad AS. Zinc in human health: effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med. 2008;14(5-6):353?357. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad
[iv] Haase H, Rink L. The immune system and the impact of zinc during aging. Immun Ageing. 2009;6:9. Published 2009 Jun 12. doi:10.1186/1742-4933-6-9
[v] Di Rosa M, Malaguarnera M, Nicoletti F, Malaguarnera L. Vitamin D3: a helpful immuno-modulator. Immunology. 2011;134(2):123?139. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2567.2011.03482.x
[vi] Kampf G, Todt D, Pfaender S, Steinmann E. Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents. J Hosp Infect. 2020;104(3):246?251. doi:10.1016/j.jhin.2020.01.022