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Lowering Your Risk for Coronavirus

March 15, 2020
Lowering Your Risk for Coronavirus | What to Know - Lark Health

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The coronavirus outbreak, declared a pandemic on March 11th by the World Health Organization (WHO), is affecting or threatening to affect nearly everyone's way of life. So much is out of our control, and it may seem as though there is nothing to do but wait. 

Still, there are some things that you can control, and there are steps you can take to keep yourself as healthy as possible. After making sure you have enough food and other essential supplies on hand in case you cannot get to a store, you can lower your risk for coronavirus infection by making healthier lifestyle choices and following health expert recommendations for limiting exposure to the virus. Along the way, Lark can help guide you in smart choices to boost your immune system and keep your mood positive.

Feeding Your Immune System

Eating right does not only lower your risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes: The right nutrients are also necessary for your immune system to function properly and fight infections as best it can. Directly or indirectly, your immune system depends on vitamins and minerals from A to Zinc.

This table shows some nutrients that can boost your immune system and some food sources [1]. As you can see, the foods shown are generally good for lowering chronic disease risk, too.

These nutrients are available in a multivitamin and mineral supplement, and many doctors recommend that their patients take one just to be safe. However, choosing a nutrient-dense diet with a variety of superfoods can only help, since many whole foods have benefits far beyond the sum of their vitamins and minerals. 

Lark's nutrition coaching guides you in choosing more nutritious foods while limiting the ones that may not be as beneficial for health.

Exercising Your Immune System

Staying active, or gradually getting active if you have not been exercising recently and your doctor says it is okay to do so, can boost your immune system. People who are well-trained - that is, regularly active - tend to catch fewer infectious diseases such as colds. In one study, participants who did aerobic activity at least 5 days per week had 43% lower chance of developing an upper respiratory infection compared to participants who exercised less than once per week. The severity of symptoms were also lower among the more active participants [2].

Going to the gym can put you close proximity to other people, and many states have closed gyms. Fortunately, there are plenty of other options for getting aerobic exercise. 

Getting active not only boost immune function, but it gives a lift to your mood, too. During these challenging times, that can be just as valuable.

Lark can be your coach and cheerleader as you set goals and track progress towards them. Lark can also send reminders to get moving, and provide personalized feedback and tips to get you active.

Recovery Is Key

Good sleep makes you feel good, and it lets your body work well, too. While scientists do not know everything about sleep, it does appear that getting enough quality sleep has benefits, such as lowering chronic inflammation and increasing insulin sensitivity, that can reduce risk for chronic diseases. Being short on sleep also suppresses parts of the immune system that fight infections [3], so being sure to get enough sleep may strengthen your immune system. These tips can help with sleep.

  • A cool, quiet, dark room is best for sleep
  • Heavy meals or snacks too close to bedtime can interfere with sleep
  • Caffeine stays in your system for several hours, so avoiding it in the afternoon and evening may help you fall asleep faster
  • Alcohol may make you feel tired, but it may reduce the quality of your sleep

Sleep coaching with Lark includes tracking as well as personalized insights to help you get more sleep and connect your sleep to other parts of your life, such as how you may feel. 

Stressing Out?

Are you stressing out about the coronavirus? It is natural because of the uncertainty and lack of control, but it does not help. Managing stress can help keep you from getting sick, while letting stress overwhelm you can have the opposite effect, not to mention interfere with sleep. Lark's stress management program offers strategies for managing stress that may help now and for years to come as you learn and practice effective coping mechanisms.

Friends from a Distance

No matter how strong your immune system is, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds the public that avoiding the virus is the best way to avoid getting sick [4]. The coronavirus spreads from person to person, and the recommendation is to maintain distance of at least 6 feet from people next to you. You may choose to stay home whenever possible, and limit exposure to other people by avoiding public places when you can.

  • Walking or taking a private car instead of public transportation
  • Fulfilling religious obligations online instead of in an in-person place of worship
  • Shopping online instead of in-person

If you do go out, it can cheer you up to offer to shop for an at-risk person, such as an elderly neighbor or a friend with diabetes, so that they do not have to face the crowds.

Clean Hands

With all the hype and precautions surrounding COVID-19, the most basic of recommendations has not changed. Washing your hands frequently can lower your risk for infection. Though stores are experiencing shortages of sanitizer, washing with soap and water is still the preferred method when you can. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is here for sure, and besides staying informed on the latest developments, you can take steps to protect yourself. Focusing on your health may increase your sense of control and can actually lower your risk for getting infected, and it is far from selfish. Instead, staying healthy is the best thing for your family and community, too. Lark can help you with your healthy intentions, and any habits you form now may last a lifetime as you work to stay healthy.


  1. US Department of Veterans Affairs. Vitamins and minerals that affect the immune system. https://www.hiv.va.gov/patient/daily/diet/vitamin-mineral-chart-table1.asp
  2. Nieman DC, Henson DA, Austin MD, Sha W. Upper respiratory tract infection is reduced in physically fit and active adults. Br J Sports Med. 2011;45(12):987-92
  3. Irwin MR. Sleep and infectious disease risk. Sleep. 2012;35(8):1025–1026. Published 2012 Aug 1. doi:10.5665/sleep.1976
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How to protect yourself. Reviewed March 14, 2020.

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