Right before we were asked to close by the county due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I posted a graph on the white board. The picture was of a lecture graph from Greg Glassman, early on in the CrossFit journey. Greg suggested that there are 3 broad states of health in any population, with of course, individuals spanning the full spectrum in the population. Greg’s three states were “Pathological/Sick”, “Well” and “Fit”.

Some people thought that, by posting this as COVID-19 was taking off, that I was promoting irresponsibility or the concept that we were going to do what we want because we are somehow immune. That wasn’t my point at all. The point was merely to say:

“Great job! Your lifestyle and hard work will give you significant immune system defenses as we face this virus together!”

Greg suggested that “Fitness is the body’s natural hedge against sickness”. I’ve done some research this past weekend and into yesterday and found some not so surprising facts about Greg’s theory.

The Mayo Clinic published a report on the impact of High Intensity Interval Training on the body, along with running, cycling, weight training and martial arts. Their key finding:

  • The BEST training for adults is high-intensity aerobic exercise, which can reverse some cellular aspects of the aging process

Other studies have provided other solid support for CrossFit (HIIT) training:

  • When compared to long duration exercise, HIIT provides equivalent if not superior metabolic, cardiac, and systemic vascular adaptations, supporting more time-efficient approaches to optimize metabolic and cardiovascular health, US National library of Medicine, 2015
  • Intensity of exercise appears more important than its duration in preventing cardiovascular disease, US National library of Medicine, 2015
  • Men who do high-intensity exercise have a 35% lower risk of all-cause mortality, International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2009
  • Women who do high-intensity exercise have a 53% lower risk of all-cause mortality, International Journal of Sports Medicine, 2009
  • A single weekly session of exercise of high intensity reduces the risk of cardiovascular death by 39% in men and 51% in women, European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, 2006

None of this may come as a surprise to you. Fitness IS a natural hedge against illness.

There are numerous studies out and more publishing daily regarding the defensive benefits of exercise during the pandemic. Psychology Today even points to the virus fighting benefits of exercising during a coronavirus infection. HIIT produces human growth hormone which boosts the overall immune system and reduces stress hormones that lower the body’s virus fighting ability.

Keep it up! Taking a walk is great, but getting a good sweat on and asking the body to do more is proving to be a tremendous hedge not just against sickness, but COVID-19 specifically.