Mon | Jul 6, 2020

Paul Wright | Surviving COVID-19

Published:Tuesday | April 7, 2020 | 12:06 AM
This little one was among participants in week 9 of The Gleaner’s 2019 Fit 4 Life wellness programme. The session was conducted by Body by Kurt at FLOW, 47 Half-Way-Tree Road, St Andrew.
This little one was among participants in week 9 of The Gleaner’s 2019 Fit 4 Life wellness programme. The session was conducted by Body by Kurt at FLOW, 47 Half-Way-Tree Road, St Andrew.

THE CORONAVIRUS pandemic has completely changed how we respond to sports across the world.

Virtually every sport has finally agreed to a postponement or cancellation of events, affecting athletes, sponsors, fans, and most importantly, the psyche of every human being – whether you like or dislike sports.

The economic devastation of the effect of the pandemic will be felt for months to come, even after life returns to some kind of ‘normality’ later this year. The effect of the lockdown on fans and athletes will be the subject of numerous forums in the weeks to come, with the main topic being the medical responses felt by everyone throughout the world.

The lack of sporting activity will see an alarming increase in weight gain, not only among the athletic population, but also in the fan/supporters population. The onset of nocturnal curfews, which I suspect will eventually morph into 24-hour restrictions, will see an increase in sleep time, and a concomitant increase in the amount of food intake, resulting in the dreaded and much-feared weight gain.

Already facing an obesity crisis in the young and old, medics are gearing up for an expected increase in non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiac decompensation among a population forced to stay indoors and away from everyday active lifestyle.

Thus, daily reminders on electronic and printed media will become as essential as the numerous and regular broadcasts reminding us of the vital and necessary hygienic means of staying virus-free, such as handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, the use of hand sanitisers with at least 60 per cent alcohol, and the unfortunately named ‘social distancing’ of at least three feet between family, friends and acquaintances.

Greater importance

The dictum of walking non-stop for 30 minutes every day, no matter how fast or how far, now assumes even greater importance as this form of activity can be carried out in the house or the yard twice daily. Athletes will be required to do much more during this mandatory period of lockdown, as they will have specific programmes mandated by coaches and trainers, but this weight-bearing programme will become just as vital for health of the average Joe/Jane as the necessity of prearranged programmes for athletes awaiting the return of tournaments and competition.

Eating less will be just as difficult for the non-athlete as the athlete, because the usual fruits and vegetables, the mainstay of a healthy lifestyle and diet, will become harder to obtain as market-day purchases become a formidable challenge for the average citizen.

‘Grow what we eat, and eat what we grow’ should result in a windfall for our farmers, who are facing lower sales with a lockdown of hotels and restaurants. All that is necessary is a surge in nationalism, as we refrain from imported foodstuff to buying locally produced and nutritious local food, fruit and vegetables.

The uncertainty of when ‘life’ will return to normal is just as devastating as not competing for the athlete, whether human or non-human. The different ‘models’ being used by infectious disease experts, who are trying to predict the duration of this pandemic, tell nations desperate for a timeline for the end of this ‘purgatory’ ranges from the end of April to as far away as the end of August.

If we take the end of June this year as a reasonable date for the relaxation of the social distancing and other mandatory curfews, then the uncertainty that only aggravates mental and psycho-social agony will be relaxed, as there is now a timeline to aim at, and planning for the rescheduling of competitions can be done with some degree of certainty.

So, for now, let us unite and weather this pandemic together, knowing that this too will pass and we will be stronger from having learnt some very important lessons about ourselves and our environment, taught by a strict and unforgiving tutor, COVID-19.