During the lockdown, developing obesity became a real risk for the general population. Being unable to go to gyms, eating to calm nerves, and unusual sleep-wake cycles contributed to people gaining weight during the coronavirus pandemic.
Fortunately, people were able to go outside to exercise and get fresh air, but with the cold weather approaching, those opportunities are diminishing. So, the worry about gaining weight and crossing the obesity threshold are real problems for many.
How Lockdown Affected Eating Habits
With the coronavirus pandemic making changes to our daily routines, the way people eat becomes affected. Grocery stores often ran out of staples, so consumers hoarded the ones they could get their hands on. In some communities, grocery-store hours were limited, so people turned to foods with long shelf lives. This meant that many people were unable to eat a healthy diet with fresh foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
Many people also turned to stress eating, which included eating comfort foods that are high in calories and sugar. The foods with long shelf lives often are loaded with preservatives and other unhealthy additives. Both of these elements put together can cause weight gain.
Interestingly, many people began baking. This is why so many stores ran out of yeast. Bread and other baked goods are loaded with carbohydrates, which can cause weight gain.
Along with eating high-carb food, many people ate snacks throughout the day. Working from home made it easier to access the refrigerator throughout the day, so snacking at all hours of the day became the norm. This also leads to gain weight.
Obesity and Its Complication for COVID-19 Mortality
As researchers learn more about the COVID-19 disease, they have found that obese people were at risk of becoming hospitalized due to complications from the virus. In one study of nearly 400,000 patients, obese COVID-19 patients were 113% more likely to end up in the hospital with complications and were almost 50% more likely to die from the virus.
Obese people are more likely to have other comorbidities like asthma, diabetes, and other issues relating to respiration and circulation. These problems along with obesity can affect the lungs, as the fat on the abdomen presses on the lungs. Since COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, pressure on the lungs only adds to the problem.
Being overweight also causes other problems that make COVID-19 worse. Fat can cause the blood to become sticky and clot. Fat also begins to collect on the organs, which can negatively affect the immune system. Healthy cells become damaged, which makes it more likely that obese people who are exposed to viruses will catch them – even if they are vaccinated against them.
Stay Fit and Prevent Weight Gain During the Lockdown
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to lose weight to reduce the risk of being hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Eat Healthy Food
Now that we are in the “new normal,” grocers are better stocked and mask mandates make it easier and safer to go to the store. Instead of buying food loaded with sugars and preservatives, look for healthy, fresh foods.
Along with eating healthy food, you should also establish a healthy eating routine. Plan your meals and eat them at the same time each day. Then, don’t eat before bed so you don’t run the risk of gaining weight.
Get a Daily Dose of Fresh Air
The body needs vitamin D and the sun is the best source of it. Vitamin D helps boost the immune system, which is vitally important during this pandemic. Getting fresh air will help you sleep, which will help you fight insomnia. Always keep in mind that insomnia can increase the chances of becoming obese.
Exercise Inside Regularly
Regular exercise can help prevent obesity. If you can exercise outside, that’s great. But, if you are stuck inside working all day, you’ve got to find time to exercise inside, too. One of the best ways to increase movement in your life is to plan five minutes of constant movement during every 30 minutes of work.
At the top of the hour, set an alarm for 25 minutes past. Then, exercise for five minutes. At the 30-minute mark, set the alarm for 55 minutes past. Then, exercise for another five minutes. Repeat this throughout the day. After eight hours of work, you’ll have exercised for a total of 80 minutes.
In those five minutes, you can jog up and down your stairs, do five one-minute planks, or do one minute of jumping jacks, sit-ups, lunges, squats, and burpees.
Another way to help fight obesity is to feel full. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help you stay hydrated and feel full. You can get your hydration from water or from other healthy beverages like unsweetened tea. Fruits and vegetables also provide hydration. When you are hydrated, your blood pumps more efficiently. Proper hydration also helps the body burn calories and removes waste more efficiently.
Staying aware of your present state is the goal of mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness takes time as we often get caught up in our thoughts and daydreams. The best way to practice mindfulness is to become aware of what your mind is doing. When you notice you are in your thoughts, get out of them. Being in your thoughts takes you out of the present.
Your mind can make you think you are hungry, when you actually aren’t. Practicing mindful awareness of your physical state can keep you from raiding the refrigerator and the snack cabinet.
Have a Digital Break
If you are working from home, you are most likely in front of the computer all day long. Everyone needs a digital break – time away from the screen. During this digital break, don’t play on your phone or watch TV. Instead, go outside or do something that offers you a concrete experience like coloring, cooking, or playing with your children.
The COVID-19 pandemic has kept families and friends apart due to worries of infecting each other. Humans need contact with other humans, so take time to stay connected with the people you love. This might mean that you have regular Zoom meetings with each other or you take time to meet in your driveway while practicing social distancing.
Staying connected to the people you love will reduce your stress levels. This will keep you from stress eating and it will help you sleep better at night. Thus reducing the possibility of gaining weight.
Get Enough Sleep
Another good way to avoid gaining weight is to sleep well. Unfortunately, coronasomnia is a reality for many people, so getting a restful night of sleep is elusive. You must do what you can to make your bedroom a relaxing environment because your body needs regular sleep to stay healthy.
One of the complications that comes from insomnia is weight gain, so avoid taking naps, drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day, and eating meals before bedtime. Turn off your computers and other electronic devices to give your body time to get set for bed. Also, stay off of social media and avoid watching the news before you go to bed.
With a few adjustments to your new-normal schedule, you can take control of your weight during this stressful time. Taking care of your health will help you reduce stress in the long run.