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Chronic Disease: Key to COVID-19 Deaths

ByCrossFitMarch 27, 2020

In a version of a talk he has delivered during grand rounds at medical schools around the country, CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman divides various common causes of death into five categories: chronic, microbic, genetic, kinetic, or toxic.

The chronic disease category includes conditions such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and kidney disease. Microbic deaths are caused by things like ebola, malaria, and SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind the COVID-19 outbreak. The genetic category includes conditions such as Tay-Sachs and cystic fibrosis, kinetic examples include car crashes and falls, and the toxic category includes deaths caused by nerve agents, snake bites, and botulism, for example.

Pointing to the chronic disease category, Glassman notes, “This is about 86% of our medical spend on our runaway medical expenditure. It’s 86% of spend, 80% of deaths.” The other four categories receive 14% of spend and represent 20% of deaths.

“The significant thing here for us as CrossFitters is that we have a solution to this side,” Glassman says, again pointing to the chronic diseases. “And the solution here is what? It’s get off the couch, get off the carbs.”

Glassman insists sedentarism and excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates are not related to lifestyle. Instead, he says, they are “two pathological behaviors, two deleterious, extremely damaging behaviors that were choices.”

“The solution here — it’s behaviorally driven and it will be behaviorally cured or it will be medically babysat,” Glassman says.

Turning his attention to the COVID-19 crisis, Glassman explains, “What has happened is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the agent — the virus responsible for COVID-19, the illness, has escaped the microbic bucket and landed in the chronic disease bucket and has essentially started a trashcan fire with a precipitation of death, to mix metaphors.”

Glassman attributes the potency of the illness to comorbidities, the simultaneous presence of one or more chronic diseases in the patients affected. “I see these as chronic disease deaths,” he says.

“CrossFit fixes this. Medicine babysits it.”