The many trials and tribulations over the past few months have certainly taught us a lot. One of the most valuable lessons demonstrated is the importance of taking care of ourselves – both physically and mentally.

While seniors continue to be most vulnerable to this distressing pandemic, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that those with underlying health conditions (at any age) have more severe outcomes. 

Utilizing data from over 1.3 million COVID-19 cases reported in the U.S. between Jan. 22 and May 30, the report states that those with pre-existing conditions are six times more likely to be hospitalized and 12 times more likely to die from the disease. This equates to approximately 45 percent of this population hospitalized (compared to 7.6 percent without underlying conditions) and close to 20 percent dying (compared to under 2 percent of those with none). 

The most common underlying health conditions identified were cardiovascular disease (32 percent), diabetes (30 percent) and chronic lung disease (18 percent). Others included liver and kidney disease, neurodevelopmental or intellectual disability, and immunocompromised conditions. Incidents were similar among men and women.

The good news is many of these chronic conditions are preventable – and even reversible – through nutrition and lifestyle changes. We simply have to commit to educating ourselves, investing both time and resources, and making health a priority. 

It starts with consuming real food to strengthen our immune system and fuel our body, incorporating wellness techniques that reduce stress and calm the spirit, getting quality sleep and enjoying exercise that enlivens our physical being. These basic practices should be as much a part of our daily routine as morning coffee or checking email. 

Another thing we have learned is that we need to protect the front-line workers who care for us. They are today’s true heroes and the best we can do for them is to be safe and to stay healthy. Our lives, and theirs, could depend on it.

Remember, it’s never too late to start on the path to wellness and there has never been a better time.

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