Updated: May 25, 2020
In recent years, the importance of a healthy body has perhaps never been as pronounced as it is right now, in the midst of the international crisis that has gripped the global scene. The novel coronavirus Covid-19 was declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a pandemic and global emergency, fueling widespread fear among the global population and implementations of lock-downs worldwide. It has resulted in around 2.9 million infections and 207 000 deaths thus far. The course of normal lives and global systems have been disrupted, highlighting the fragility of the systems of 'normalcy' on a local, global and even individual level. One recurring theme frequently brought to the forefront of discussions is the value of health and hygiene, highlighting a call to action to re-examine and strengthen health practices in our everyday lives, not just to prevent Covid-19 but also to benefit ourselves in the long run.
Importance of Health
2020 was off to a shaky start as the public cleared the shelves of precautionary measures like surgical masks and hand sanitisers, and even common household goods like toilet paper rolls, in a bid to protect themselves from Covid-19. Although no one could have predicted there would be such a pandemic occurring and there is no foolproof way to protect our bodies from the virus (other than staying home), it is still crucial to note that differences in the states of health of people matter as the virus seems to affect some segments of the population more than others, even though everyone is susceptible to it (Livescience).
Specifically, children largely appear to be less affected (New York Times, Livescience, Time), whereas elderly people or those with pre-existing conditions are more likely to become severely ill from Covid-19 (WHO) e.g. most of the fatalities in China were over 60 years old with pre-existing conditions, according to a report from China’s National Health Commission (CNBC). Doctors and experts state that this disparity is most likely due to the deteriorating immunity of the older population and the robust immune systems of children; it is shown that our immune systems play a dominant part in fighting the virus because it “is the first line of defense against pathogens” (Livescience, CNBC, New York Times). Correspondingly, the demand for immunity boosting supplements like Vitamin C has soared in countries like Singapore, and China (Today Online, The Australian Financial Review).
The Link between Physical and Mental Health
It is understandable that people are seeking ways to improve their immune systems in this time of crisis, yet it is vital that we maintain a healthy body and mind throughout our lives.
With the recent emphasis on physical health, we should keep in mind that mental health is equally important and should not be neglected, and it is also deeply interconnected with our physical health. Studies have shown that poor mental health affects physical health and vice versa, and the link becomes stronger when it comes to chronic physical conditions (Mental Health Foundation, Canadian Mental Health Foundation, National Center for Biotechnology Information).
Health is a currency that we should never take for granted. How, then, can we live a truly healthy life? The key is focusing on both physical and mental health, while maintaining a patient and understanding relationship with ourselves. In the long run, there are significant benefits for our lives if we focus on and take care of both our mental and physical well-being because any neglect in either area would highly likely jeopardise the other.
Granted, ways of improving and maintaining good health vary across individuals and contexts, and it is important to constantly re-evaluate and refine regimens according to one's individual needs.
Ways to Improve Physical Health
Physical exercise (e.g. aerobic, strength-training activities)
Eating mindfully and incorporating healthy foods into our diets
Regular sleep cycle
Cultivate good habits (e.g. eating regular meals)
Drinking plenty of water