The world pandemic has brought out our inner health-conscious-self intentionally and has motivated many people to take control of their health and change their unhealthy behaviours and routines in a number of different ways.
And true enough people have found they’re also can be health vigilant about self-care. While work is off and we are required to stay at home, experts say this is an excellent time to focus on your health.
The emotional, psychological, and financial toll taken by COVID-19 can make it hard for people to dedicate time to make some of these lifestyle shifts.
Every year, heart disease is the leading cause of death nationwide, resulting in 1 in every 4 deaths, while more than 100 million adults live with diabetes or pre-diabetes.
On the other hand, obesity statistics are similarly high, with the condition’s prevalence peaks from 30.5 percent in the year from 1999 to 2000, to 42.4 percent in the 2017–2018 time frames. The prevalence of obesity-related diseases moved from 4.7 percent to 9.2 percent during that time frame.
Rob Taub, 64, a writer, broadcaster and ambassador for the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, who currently resides in the Upper East Side neighborhood of New York City. He has been living with type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure for nearly 15 years. He was an athlete before up, he said he “looked like an NFL player,” but due to aging, changes has been observed. His overall health has improved by recalibrating his routine into something health conscious of the life changes brought about by the outbreak.
“I started gaining 15 pounds a year. Soon I was 40 pounds, then 50 pounds overweight,” said Taub.
Now, as he’s been adhering to physical distancing and stay-at-home guidelines, he’s found that his overall health has improved. He was used to eat take-out at restaurants but now he prefers to cook for himself at home.
“One of the things I switched to recently prior to COVID-19 was oatmeal because there’s no salt in it and I realized my blood pressure was going down while eating it,” he said. “When cooking for myself, there is no salt. I realize restaurant food is laden with salt and it’s not good for you.”
Everyday Taub consciously takes his blood pressure — at the time of his interview with Healthline it was at 112/80 mm Hg — and has been able to cut back on his medications.
Being vigilant is also important because he has a family history of these health concerns. His mother died at 73 from complications tied to diabetes.
On the other hand, it’s indeed challenging to cope with stress and anxiety these days and for some people like Taub, this new way of life has made him realized that it’s for a change.
Taub added that depending on a person’s individual lifestyle and desires — and assuming they’re not facing too severe of an economic impact from the current health crisis — sheltering at home gives an opportunity to adopt some healthier behaviours, from more routine fitness to better sleep habits.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest stated that rampant unhealthy diets have something of a domino effect on overall health in the United States. The organization have released finding and it says that diets that rely on heavily processed meals low on nutritious value contribute to about 678,000 deaths each year as a result of diseases tied to poor nutrition and obesity, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
According to Dr. Eckel, DASH and Mediterranean diets as fairly accessible healthy eating plans that promote weight reduction, decreased salt intake, increased daily nutritional intake, and lowered blood pressure. He also cited moderate home exercise around 40 to 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each day at home is the way to maintain the healthy behaviors. .
Dr. Luke Laffin, a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic, told Healthline that the people he treats generally have fallen in two camps during this crisis. One group was already exercising, visiting gyms, and adhering to healthy diets. Anecdotally, he noticed this group actually seemed to “fall off a bit” from their schedules once sheltering at home.
“They haven’t been doing as well in this setting,” Laffin said.
“It’s a double-edged sword. I’ve seen people benefit from this time but also some people not benefit as much,” he added.
Laffin differentiate these two groups. The other group consists of people who weren’t regularly exercising, not making the best dietary choices, but are now changing their routines slightly, finding they have more time to go for a jog or start preparing health meals.
“I think the most important part is getting into these habits and routines, and sticking with them. People are creatures of habit, so if for a couple of months with more time to exercise and eat healthily, I hope they find they can’t go without the daily routine of eating healthier, of making these choices,” he said.
For those in the first group who are finding it difficult to self-motivate during an uncertain time, Laffin suggested pursuing routines that aren’t intimidating.
He suggested that just walking around the block is a good way to add some activity, and taking quick breaks in between working from home to do some light exercise could be helpful. And for the diet, they have to resort with dishes that have 50 to 60 percent fruits and vegetables.
Stocking up up on some healthier food when you do go to the local grocery store is a good start. It may not change your eating habits rapidly but this is a progress already.
“I think it’s important for everyone to be realistic with themselves, however,” Laffin added. “A lot of people out there will slide back a bit, they will put on some extra pounds, they won’t be as physically active. Understand that this is not a 6-week reality, this is going to be going on for 6, 12, 18 months — now is the time to make these adjustments but also be realistic.”
For Taub’s part, he’s a social person who lives alone and said he will heartily embrace eating out with friends once it’s safe and responsible to do so.
“I’m going to be aggressive in restaurants about what I order, I might even call ahead to see what I can get that is salt-free. If they won’t accommodate me, then I won’t go there,” Taub stressed.
“If I’m able to control my blood pressure more, then I have to be more cognizant of my behaviors,” he added. “It’s too easy to depend on medication, as great as it is. I need to be really diligent about it.”