As the pandemic began to create a significant impact on population health and businesses were required to shut down, the wellness community responded. Within days, virtual classes were formed, fitness studios started renting out equipment, and the industry did everything they could to maintain a positive attitude during this seemingly bleak time. The response by the public was (and continues to be) tremendous.
As gyms and shops begin to re-open, concern arose on whether it was too soon, putting the safety of its customers and employees at risk. Business owners were taking safety seriously, however, by limiting hours, class sizes, and constantly maintaining cleaning protocols. The last thing the wellness industry wants to do is make their customers less well!
According to the CDC, those that have a higher risk of death due to complications with COVID-19 are those with chronic diseases like diabetes, severe obesity, and heart disease. These conditions are at the core of what the wellness industry is trying to eradicate through education, exercise, and healthy eating. Even with restrictions in place, having a fitness studio or gym available is directly beneficial by making sure people do not find themselves in those higher risk factors that are avoidable.
There is a greater benefit beyond just individual fitness as well. The wellness industry is actually helping the larger healthcare industry by keeping people out of the hospital. Anything to reduce the number of people going to the hospital helps relieve the unnecessary burden, reduces the risk for healthcare workers, and allows for healthcare professionals to focus on patients will a higher critical need.
Amy, a 57-year-old who was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in late 2007, was frustrated with her treatment options. Feeling the need to take greater control, she began to run…a lot. She kept running through her chemo treatments from 2011-2014 and has since completed 12 full marathons, three of which include the Boston Marathon. “There is no doubt that my running kept me out of the hospital.” Not only has Amy taken control of her health, but she has also inspired her 22-year-old daughter to follow in her footsteps.
Amy is an example of a recent study done by the National Institute for Health that measured a person’s age, WBI (well-being index), and the incidence of hospital visits. The Well Being Index was developed by Gallup and Healthways (now ShareCare) to measure wellness through a sense of purpose, social relationship, financial security, relationship to community, and physical health. A higher WBI means an overall healthier lifestyle.
The study revealed that people with high WBI, no matter of age, showed evidence of significantly lower risk of a hospital event. More importantly, among those in the older (≥44) age group like Amy, even modest changes in WBI was associated with significant reductions in the hazard of a hospital event in this older age group. Adopting a healthier lifestyle, even with modest gains, can have a larger impact on avoiding a hospital visit.
Does this mean we need to join gyms or sign up for classes to reduce our risk? “Not necessarily,” says Jacqui Sandell, a Fitness and Nutrition coach in Nashville. “There a lot of things that you can do that cost zero money. Not putting bad foods in your mouth is totally free. Going outside and just being active costs nothing. Both examples are 100% in your control and cost you zero.” Of course, if you need support and help, the wellness industry is always there to lend a hand.
About the author
Kenny Bailey has spent 20 years in healthcare as an innovator for both large corporations like Intel as well as small startups. He is the co-owner of the newly launched The Recovery Lounge. The Recovery Lounge, located in Franklin near the Factory, offers is a new approach to treating the other half of your fitness program, recovery. With a range of treatments designed to increase athletic performance, combat fatigue or just improve overall function and movement, The Recovery Lounge provides a relaxing way to enjoy “rest day” with services that include cryotherapy, electrotherapy, compression and stretch therapy. In addition to treatment services, The Recovery Lounge also offers a smoothie bar with nourishing, locally sourced ingredients to reduce inflammation, increase energy, and support healing all in a casual environment.