Essential workers are usually thought of as people whose work protects public safety or property. In times of an emergency some professions are obviously essential. There are a lot of jobs that we’ve recently found are not absolutely necessary. As a table tennis coach, I was not surprised to find that the world could get along quite well without my services. Umpires were even more useless than usual. Tournament directors quickly discovered they had no tournaments to direct, and most of the world hardly noticed. Clearly, the world can survive without table tennis. While table tennis workers and players aren’t essential, that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. The reason we don’t think of them as essential, is because they aren’t needed for sudden emergencies. There’s no need to call for a table tennis coach if your house is on fire. But there is an emergency that is just as real, and far more common than a house fire. One of the biggest threats to life on earth is the poor health of the earthlings. I’m not referring to impoverished countries or lands where drought and starvation are a way of life. In much of the developed world we’ve discovered that much of the population has “preexisting conditions.” Simply being over 65 is a health risk if the right virus comes along. But even without the threat of deadly viruses, our hospitals will be seeing plenty of patients with maladies that are greatly a result of lifestyle choices.
It’s not so easy to stay healthy these days. Stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, and lack of exercise are all big contributors to many of our preexisting conditions. The truth is that many of these conditions didn’t just miraculously come into existence. They’ve evolved over time by ignoring the good habits that could have prevented them. About 40% of the population of the United States is obese. That statistic alone indicates that about half of the U.S. population is at a heightened risk in the event of any future pandemics.
The people that work in gyms, the coaches, the personal trainers, the referees, and the organizers can all be allies in the battle for a healthy lifestyle. Exercise is one of the main ingredients to staying fit. Table tennis can help, and it’s one of the most fun ways to get moving. I realize that not everyone enjoys exercise. Playing a sport, or even just a daily workout can be a battle, especially as you age. It’s a battle to stay healthy, and I’d rather fight that battle in a gym, not a hospital.