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Maintain Healthy Lungs to Fight COVID-19

You are at higher risk of a deadly or serious outcome, or having lung damage, from COVID-19 if you smoke. Smoking increases your risk for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and adversely affects your immune system. Now is the time to stop using tobacco, and to give up vaping, marijuana, and other substances you inhale —anything that can deplete lung functioning. Many changes in society are likely from the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. One of them is likely to be a new effort by smokers to quit, this time for good.

Are you still considering an exercise program or attempting to motivate yourself to get fit? Here’s some new motivation: New research shows that regular exercise can protect you against acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a possible complication of COVID-19. Avoiding ARDS can keep you off a ventilator. The myth about ventilators is that they help you breathe, and when you are well, you go home without any issues. This isn’t exactly true. A ventilator often leads to other complications, including damage to the lungs. The older you are, the higher this risk, including risk of future respiratory issues as well. COVID-19 is going to be around for a while, so if you have been struggling to find the right exercise program or quit now is a great time to refocus.

Many tips that are helpful for achieving an exercise goal, and applicable to smoking goals too:

  • Research the true health impacts of exercise and smoking on your lungs and other functions of the body to fully understand the consequences of your behaviours

  • Consider the financial costs to smoking, and the financial benefits to using the money for physical health benefits like purchasing at-home equipment or a gym membership – you may be shocked to learn that smoking costs you more money than a membership with a local gym

  • Write down your goals and detail a plan for how you will achieve them, as writing down goals can lead to accountability and increased success

  • Don’t start your goals too big initially as goals that are unrealistic can lead to increased challenges with motivation or abandonment of the plan

  • Plan for potential barriers to success and how you would overcome them, so you are prepared to challenge your own excuses when things don’t go exactly as you planned

  • Tell a friend or family member about your goal and consider including them. Having someone to hold you accountable or to add an element of friendly competition can lead to increased motivation, enjoyment, and success

  • Consider financial or other rewards for positive behaviour change, or penalties for misses. Perhaps this means paying an accountability buddy for a missed day or exercise, or allowing yourself some healthy takeout for a successful week

If you are having trouble getting started, we are here to help. Contact your employee assistance program to access health coaching, life coaching, smoking cessation supports, or counselling to assist with this healthy, behaviour change process.


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