Life Under Covid-19: Live It to the Full

Alex McMillan

Alex McMillan

Head Trainer, Mid Age Man

We should celebrate life during this Covid-19 lockdown. Rejoice at being alive. Even sex counts in your 15 minutes of exercise per day.

In my “other life,” I’m a news reporter. So the coronavirus is dominating my thoughts – as I’m sure it is yours. There is no other story.

For the first time, we are all facing the same enemy, and able to tell each other about it in real time. It’s an entirely new experience.

Not a pleasant one, for sure. But for those of us who have not contracted Covid-19 it is a daily blessing to be healthy.

They say we don’t recognize the importance of health until we don’t have it. It’s like the bass guitar in a song. When it’s missing, the rest doesn’t function. Now, we should recognize the fortune of our good health every day. Listen for that bassline of our hearts, beating. Still alive.

Gyms may be closed but any form of exercise will do.

Fitness, as in personal training, pales in comparison to what anyone directly facing the virus is going through. I’m not going to spew platitudes about health-care workers, and mimic the “serious face” that TV news anchors put on at times like this. But obviously, workers directly fighting the disease, and patients battling it inside them, are fighting quite literally a life and death battle.

The rest of us are not fighting a war. The feeling is like being very far away from a conflict that has cut off supply. Under siege. We can’t move around, and sometimes the feeling is so suffocating that it feels like we can’t even move at all. The fear of this invisible threat seeps into your body and paralyzes it, like another kind of virus.

But move we can. The injection of action into our bodies is an antidote to the virus of fear. There is still joy to be had when life is locked down. Life is on hold; but we must also stop and ponder what life means to us; it is not over, yet. That’s cause for joy. That’s living.

I’m truly thankful that I’m able to exercise every day. Due to the restrictions in Hong Kong, gyms are closed. But I’m also still able to train clients, up to the limit of 3, outdoors. A room would do, too, but good luck finding one: clubhouses, even if they don’t have to be, are closed.

The monkey bars and pull-up frames in public parks were great TRX suspension points for a while. But they’re now marked off with crime-scene tape. So I’m dragging kettlebells and TRX sets and dumbbells around town.

I have written before in this post How Exercise Will Stop You Getting Sick – or Old about how exercise can actually boost your immune system. Staying fit also enhances your chances of avoiding sickness. Test subjects who were elderly but cycling long distances regularly had the same T cell immune count as 20-somethings. They also hadn’t lost the muscle mass or strength that their older peers who do not exercise.

“Our findings debunk the assumption that ageing automatically makes us more frail,” immune-cell biologist and ageing expert Janet Lord says.

Fitness also wards off a host of other diseases. Unfortunately, people with “pre-existing health conditions” are hit hardest by this disease. Diabetics and the obese, with resulting high blood pressure and the threat of heart disease, are at particular risk.

It’s a bit late now that Covid-19 is rampant to say “I’m gonna beat this by getting fit.” But it is a good time to decide to start an exercise habit. Start with as little as 15 minutes a day, if you haven’t been exercising. Even this 7-minute workout is an excellent start, a little dose of HIIT.

You’ve got the time. In fact, although we always say how busy we are, we always have the time. We each spend minutes every day brushing our teeth for the good of our physical health. Why not devote 7 minutes of your day (15 is better!) to your physical health through a bit of movement as well?

The best way to exercise is to get intrinsic enjoyment out of it. This means you enjoy the exercise not as a means to an end (to get fit) but as the end itself (I like doing this). Mid Age Man would tweak the Nike slogan: Just Enjoy It.

So try to find a form of exercise that you enjoy. Gardening, household chores and even sex count as exercise! Yes, sex is in my Precision Nutrition manual as a “selected daily activity” that can boost your metabolism.

Now, you might wonder if I’m actually getting a full 7 minutes of exercise each time I have sex. Guys can knock out that particular workout in around 4 minutes if they’re pushing it! Their partner might feel short-changed and complain she (or he) wants to go for a second set.

If you don’t have a workout partner for that particular form of exercise, you can try many others. Personally I favor strength training combined with cardio, since the rebuilding process of regenerating muscle means the effects of your workout can last for days. “Pure cardio” ceases once your heartbeat goes back to normal.

It doesn’t matter what form it takes. Just get up and get moving. We should make the most of this downtime to set our priorities straight. One of them is to enjoy movement, the sheer pleasure of having these mortal bodies, which are designed for use.

Disease be damned. The end will come for us all in the end. But it has not come for us yet. The Bible says that God will judge both the quick and the dead. This old use of “quick” means alive.

We’re quick. Let’s make the most of this time, now, and on earth. Get up, get out and get going.



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About the author

Alex McMillan

Alex McMillan

Head trainer at Mid Age Man. Alex believes there are four pillars to being healthy: physical fitness, sensible nutrition, mental strength, and wellbeing for your body and soul.

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