Healthwise Maui | News, Sports, Jobs

Q: I got COVID-19 and recovered. How long does immunity last?

Dr. Michael Shea, Intensivist and Chief Medical Director, Maui Health: Studies have found that people who’ve been infected with COVID-19 do develop some natural immunity. However, that immunity doesn’t provide complete protection, and it won’t last forever.

Several studies have found that people who’ve been infected with COVID-19 continue to produce antibodies to the virus for seven or eight months after recovery, which is a good sign immunity should last for a while. At some point after that, however, it’s likely that immunity will start to wane. While scientists still don’t know how long immunity will last, studies suggest it could protect you from reinfection anywhere from three months to five years.

Natural immunity also may not offer much protection against COVID variants different from the one you were infected with. It is also important to point out that new variants are likely to emerge over time, and until we have enough data available, we aren’t able to say how contagious new variants will be and how protective any natural immunity (from a previous infection). may be against that specific variant.

The bottom line is that getting COVID does give you some natural immunity, but it doesn’t mean you have complete, lasting protection. That’s why doctors still recommend you get fully vaccinated, wear a mask and take other precautions like social distancing, even if you’ve already had COVID. And remember, even though masks are no longer required in most public places, you should still use common sense about mask-wearing. For example, you might consider wearing a mask when you are in large public indoor gatherings, or around others who may be sick. At Maui Health, masks are still required at all times while inside our facilities. Remember, COVID-19 is still all around us, so don’t let your guard down.

Q: What’s the simplest way to exercise at home for new fitness enthusiasts?

Chrissy Miller, Employee Health and COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Manager, Maui Health: Even though gyms are opening again, many people are still exercising at home – whether they’re playing it safe with COVID or because they’ve found it’s more convenient and affordable. But is it possible to get a good workout without leaving the house? Definitely!

Even if you don’t have a fancy home gym, you can get fit with basic equipment like dumbbells or exercise bands or simple body-weight exercises. For an effective at-home workout, try to combine a cardiovascular or aerobic activity with a few strength or resistance exercises.

Cardio exercises could include jumping rope, climbing stairs or doing step-ups, jumping jacks, jogging in place, or burpees. For your strength workout, try pushups, wall pushups, crunches or sit-ups, lunges, squats, plank or chair triceps dips.

Remember to warm up and cool down before and after your workout with some light cardio, such as walking around the block, or easy pedaling on a stationary bike. And don’t forget to stretch – build flexibility by doing some floor stretches or yoga poses before or after your workout.

One downside of exercising at home is that it can feel easier to slack off or skip a workout. Plan a workout schedule and put it on your calendar to keep yourself on track. Set goals for yourself, like increasing the number of pushups you can do, and track your progress in a journal. Try listening to music to boost your energy and motivation or invite a friend to join you to make exercise more fun. Finally, change up your routine to keep workouts exciting and improve your fitness. You can find new ideas for exercises to mix things up online, in fitness magazines and in workout apps.

The bottom line is you don’t need an expensive gym membership to get in shape. Instead, by planning the right mix of exercises and sticking to a schedule, you can have a great workout at home.

• Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui,” which appears on Thursdays. Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealth.org/healthwise.

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