By CHRIS FIELDS
What men should learn from COVID-19
The last time I was with you guys, I spoke about our health habits jeopardizing our freedom. At the time it was hypothetical, but as the weeks played out, it became a bit prophetic. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only restricted our freedom but drastically changed how we live, and placed an immediate value on our time.
COVID-19 started as a distant echo from across the world and is now being heard loud and clear by everyone under the sun. The message this pandemic is shouting might depend on the listener. Some might hear, “Get your life together; get going on all you’ve been neglecting and putting off,” while others might hear, “Slow down and enjoy your blessings.” Some might hear a message to spend more time with family, while others are leaving their families behind for eternity. There’s one message that should be universally heard loud and clear, particularly for Christians: “Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.” That’s all we have.
This pandemic is forcing all of us to change our lives in many ways, but the one that should be the same across the board is valuing what you have. The one thing we all have is a body, and it needs to be taken care of.
COVID-19 attacks the immune-impaired, particularly individuals with impaired metabolic health (obesity, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease). Individuals with impaired metabolic health suffer from insulin resistance, which causes energy distribution imbalances. Our energy, or our caloric intake, is in constant overload, which impairs our body’s ability to adequately distribute nutrients to their proper designations.
There are two main causes of impaired metabolic health: poor diet and sedentary behavior. Before COVID-19, these two causes — especially when in combination — were killing millions yearly. Poor diet and sedentary behavior lead to obesity, which leads to type 2 diabetes, heart attacks and hypertension. The leading causes of death and hospitalization from COVID-19 are obesity, diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
Since June is Men’s Health Month, I will say that men are dying at higher rates than women due to COVID-19. There could be a lot of contributing factors to that, and when more scientific-based evidence comes out, I will gladly let you know, but until then I will list some things that are true:
Women are in more control of their health. Studies have shown that women use more healthcare services than men. Women see their primary care physicians at higher rates; thus, they have more knowledge of what they need to do to take care of themselves.
Women eat better than men. Statistics in a community health survey reveal that women eat fruit and vegetables at a higher rate than men. My mom used to torture me with vegetables growing up, so I can speak to this from experience, but we all know the benefits of fruits and vegetables.
Men are more physically active than women, but women exercise more. You’re probably saying those two things are the same, but they are not. Physical activity is just movement carried out by skeletal muscles, but exercise is planned, deliberate movement intended to improve or maintain physical fitness and health. It’s planned, repetitive movement sustained consistently over a period of time that generates health benefits.
In summary, women are less stubborn than men when it comes to making the changes necessary to take control of their health. If I wasn’t a health professional, I wouldn’t be nearly as adamant about maintaining a healthy weight as my wife. Women love to lose weight. It’s almost like weight loss is their other X chromosome.
Men, the subtle tactics of the enemy are taking us out, and the most subtle of them all is how we don’t value our health. Our bodies are a gift from God, and it’s time for us to stop hiding in male pride and be intentional in honoring God with the gift He gave us. It’s time for us to show Jesus His sacrifice wasn’t in vain by taking care of our body.
If the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t saying anything else to us, it’s saying this, men: Value the life God has given you by doing what needs to be done to take care of your health — and be the standard that God created you to be in your home and community.
Chris Fields is the founder and executive director of H.E.A.L. Mississippi and a graduate in kinesiology with advance studies in nutrition. He serves as a clinical exercise physiologist/CPT and is credentialed in Exercise Is Medicine through American College of Sports Medicine.