“Motion is medicine” is a saying to live by, and it may be more important than ever during the COVID-19 crisis.
Michael Mason, DO, is an orthopedic surgeon with Newport Orthopedics, a Lifespan Physician Group practice. We asked him to explain why it’s so vital to stay active.
Exercise is valuable self-care practice at all times, but especially now, during the era of COVID-19.
Regular exercise provides enormous orthopedic and general health benefits, including protection against diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and fractures, heart disease, and more. Some of these conditions put people at higher risk of serious COVID-19 illness.
The pandemic certainly has heightened our stress levels. Exercise helps by causing our body to release endorphins, which lift our mood. Getting outdoors in the sun spurs our skin cells’ production of vitamin D, which is good for bones, muscles, and teeth.
Besides maintaining your body’s strength and endurance, exercise helps your joints function better. Cartilage, which cushions the ends of the bones in our joints, relies on synovial fluid, not blood, for its nutrients. Exercise compresses the joints, forcing more of this nutrient-rich fluid into the cartilage, helping it stay lubricated and healthy.
Some kinds of exercise lend themselves to social distancing, such as tennis, golfing, bicycling, swimming, and walking or hiking.
A combination of exercises — flexibility, aerobic and strengthening — is great for everyone, but especially for people with arthritis. Swimming is particularly beneficial, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, there’s no evidence that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can spread to people through water. The CDC advises that you not wear a mask while in the water, because it’s harder to breathe if it gets wet. Be sure to stay at least 6 feet away from others, unless they are from the same household.
In summer, I like to sail, but I also enjoy taking walks and playing outdoors with my dog. Aquidneck Island has plenty of options for walkers who want to enjoy nature and beautiful scenery, which uplifting for your spirits.
If you’re still not comfortable being near others, or have concerns because you’re in a high-risk group, you can exercise at home with online fitness classes. There are many options to choose from.
Without exercise, arthritic joints become more stiff and painful, and bones become brittle and susceptible to fractures. Studies have shown that exercising may help patients with mild to moderate arthritis delay hip replacement surgery.
When joint replacement can’t be put off any longer, today’s patients benefit from major advances such as reduced surgery time, shorter hospital stays, and quicker recovery time. Patients regain a greater range of motion than in years past, and the joint implants last much longer.
Newport Hospital is unique in Rhode Island in using Radlink GPS imaging technology during joint replacement procedures. This technology allows the surgeon to analyze the size, position and orientation of hip replacement implants and place them precisely where they need to be for the best results.
Remember, motion is medicine, so be sure to stay active despite COVID concerns.
You can find lots more information about COVID-19 best practices on the Rhode Island Department of Health website.
Michael Mason, DO, is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. He sees patients at Newport Orthopedics, a Lifespan Physician Group practice. Newport Hospital provides this monthly column for The Daily News.