El Salvador Urges Citizens to Exercise, Get Sunlight to Fight Coronavirus

A man holds white flowers during the commemoration of the 40th anniversary of a massacre i

El Salvador debuted a public service announcement (PSA) on Monday urging citizens of the Central American country to attain an “ideal weight” through a healthy diet and exercise to reduce the chance of developing complications from a possible Chinese coronavirus infection.

“A healthy lifestyle also helps to reduce the complications from COVID-19,” the advertisement begins, referring to the disease caused by a coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. “COVID-19” is also called the Chinese coronavirus.

“Older adults and people with obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic illness are the groups at most risk of mortality,” the PSA continues.

The video commercial then offers a few recommendations to help viewers maintain good health and even improve their wellbeing.

“Maintain a healthy and balanced diet to try to hit your ideal weight,” the first piece of advice reads.

Official Twitter accounts for El Salvador President Nayib Bukele and the office of the Salvadoran presidency posted the video PSA on January 3 and January 4, respectively. El Salvador’s Ministry of Health later posted the advertisement to its official Twitter account as well.

The health information disseminated by the Salvadoran government this week through its new PSA aligns with the findings of other government health agencies around the world, including those of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In a notice posted to its official website on December 9, 2021, the U.S. CDC advised that people with certain medical conditions such as “obesity” and “[being] overweight” are “more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. The risk of severe COVID-19 illness increases sharply with elevated BMI.”

Exercise at Santa Ana prison, 60 km northwest of San Salvador. (OSCAR RIVERA/AFP via Getty)

“BMI” stands for “Body Mass Index” and refers to “a ratio of weight to height used to assess [the] degree of fatness or adiposity of an individual,” according to ScienceDirect.com.

“Obesity in adults is defined as a body mass index (BMI) >25 (BMI >30 is severe obesity) and is associated with significant morbidity and excess mortality,” the website, which provides access to a database of scientific and medical publications, states.

“Having either type 1 or type 2 diabetes can make you more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19,” the U.S. CDC wrote in its December 9 health notice.

Type 2 diabetes is directly tied to obesity. Individuals who carry as little as 15 to 20 pounds of extra weight on their bodies are at increased risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

“Being overweight raises your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke,” the U.S.-based non-profit warns on its website.

“It can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol, and high blood glucose (sugar),” the association writes.

“If you are overweight, losing weight may help you prevent and manage these conditions,” according to the ADA. “And you don’t have to lose a lot to improve your health—even losing 10–15 pounds can make a big difference.”


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