The 5S project: How to survive the epidemic

Physical activity and nature – two tips for better health during the epidemic.
Illustrational photo: Martin Višňa
Saturday 7 November 2020, 8:00 – Text: Martin Višňa

According to experts from the UP Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and University Hospital Olomouc, the coronavirus epidemic is an opportunity for a change in lifestyle. The 5S project, which was established at the Department of Sports Medicine and Cardiovascular Rehabilitation, is meant to remind us that everyone is responsible for their own health and to provide advice on how to maintain or fortify it.

“One day I realised that even a pandemic could be a positive situation. It can show us that we have stopped paying attention to our own health, just waiting for what will be recommended to us, what some authority will do for us. We have stopped perceiving the signals of our body, which marvellously tells us what is wrong and that we should change it in some way,” said department head Eliška Sovová about the project, adding that after the spring’s anti-coronavirus measures, they encountered a fourteen-year-old who had gained sixteen kilograms, and other patients with worsening diseases.

The authors of the project highlight five Ss – Sleep, Sustenance, Sport, Stress, and stop Smoking – as priorities for maintaining health based on scientific evidence. Quality sleep and a healthy diet with an adequate intake of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids play an important role in strengthening the immune system. Likewise, adequate physical activity is an important component in the prevention of many diseases.

“If you are quarantined for Covid-19, increase your exercise time to 200 to 400 minutes per week to compensate for the reduction in other movements. The intensity should be rather moderate, since too high an intensity might reduce immunity. It is also good to exploit all the possibilities of home exercise, including dance, muscle strengthening and coordination with common household objects, and relaxation,” recommends Prof Sovová.

It is also important to avoid stress, because chronic stress reduces immunity. The authors of the project recommend to cut back on following so much negative news, to focus on activities that make us happy rather than complaining, and to keep smiling. “Try relaxation, breathing exercises, yoga. Go to nature, which is a powerful antistressor. Singing, listening to music, some light reading, enjoying a cup of coffee, buying something nice – everyone has their own activity which makes them feel great.”

Smokers can also take the epidemic as an opportunity to change their lifestyle. Smoking is a risk factor for the severity of the illness and death from respiratory infections, and smokers are twice as likely to have severe Covid-19 than non-smokers.

Further tips and recommendations as well as contacts for experts from the Department of Sports Medicine and Cardiovascular Rehabilitation can be found here