Excellent news for Bikram Yogis regarding COVID-19 has emerged:
It turns out humid air may be a useful tool in slowing coronavirus spread!
Scientists are finding that dry air makes it harder for your lungs to clear out respiratory viruses like SARS-CoV-2. Not only that, but dry air may also make it harder for your immune system to fight it off if you do get infected.
According to Yale immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki, the virus seems to survive and transmit best in dry indoor environments.
On the flip side, the research reviewed by Iwasaki and her team suggests that a relative humidity between 40 and 60 percent may make it harder for the coronavirus to take hold. (Guess what range we keep the humidity at in our hot room? ;)
Iwasaki collaborated with Swiss physician Walter Hugentobler. They had noticed that pilots and flight attendants seemed to catch the flu a lot, even if they were generally healthy. Their study linked this to the constant exposure to extra-dry cabin air. Following up that research was this review of other studies, to see if this finding applied to COVID-19 as well.
In another study, MIT engineer Hazhir Rahmandad looked at why COVID-19 was spreading more rapidly in some regions than others. He noticed that the warmer, more humid parts of Iran, India and South Asia saw lower rates of the virus, even though the population density and traffic with China should have made those areas hot spots of infection.
Rahmandad and his team found that infection rates start to drop big-time as temperature rises above 77 degrees and humidity goes up.
It’s important to remember that just because the humid air of the hot room (or summer in Portland!) may help slow down this virus, it’s not an excuse to start French-kissing the handle to the yoga room, coughing all over your neighbor’s mat or not wearing your mask to the store.
Social distancing and the other precautions we’re taking around the studio (and around town) are still important and will help us lessen spikes in infection or outbreaks as we move back into drier weather this winter.
Find out more about the research here.
Studio leader, yoga-doer and life-lover, Kay D.