Fort Berthold Diabetes Program
Quarantine and Weight Gain During
the COVID-19 Pandemic
By Nyamka Reese, MPM – Grant Manager of the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC) Program
When the quarantine orders went into effect and fitness centers closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many people found themselves struggling to maintain their usual routines. Eating a healthy meal and exercising regularly became difficult. Increased stress levels, unstructured time, and the push to stay indoors due to the COVID-19 virus, have led to widespread concern that adults may gain weight during the current pandemic.
A study was conducted by a group of researchers at the Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona to quantify the impact that self-quarantine has on behaviors associated with weight gain.
According to the study, 22% of the participants stated that they gained between 5–10 pounds. The study shows that the main risk factors for weight gain during self-quarantine were inadequate sleep, snacking after dinner, lack of dietary restraint, eating in response to stress, eating more often with friends and family, eating more due to increased time in hand, eating in response to sight and smell of food, and reduced physical activity.
Following these steps can help with losing or maintaining weight during the pandemic:
Getting an adequate amount of sleep:
When most of the evening activities have gone virtual and with the increased level of stress and anxiety, getting a good night sleep is a challenge. However, picking a consistent time to go to bed and creating a wind-down time to relax and get ready for bed such as light reading, stretching, and meditating might help you to catch up on your sleep.
Take advantage of making your meals:
Ordering in a restaurant presents issues of preparation, portion control, and price. At home, you control all three. You can substitute healthy ingredients without sacrificing flavor, there is no pressure to finish what you ordered to get your money’s worth, and you can buy the same ingredients for less money if you know where to shop. In addition, cooking involves movement, creativity, and can be a family activity. Serving meals on smaller plates helps maintain portion control both literally and psychologically.
Decrease the snacking in the evening:
The study also found that those who got fewer hours of sleep were more than likely to gain weight. It is possible that the decreased sleep and increased snacking after dinner go hand in hand to aggravate weight gain. Participants who reported less sleep ate more during the evening hours when they are awake. Lastly, hours spent in physical activity per week was another predictor of weight gain.
Get in physical activity anywhere you can find it:
Even though fitness centers may be closed, it is still possible to exercise using what you have around you. Go on a walk in your neighborhood or, if you can’t walk in your neighborhood, walk up and down the stairs in your home. You could also do jumping jacks in your garage or perform squats using the edge of your couch. Take a look around your home to see what else you may be able to use.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important to prevent and manage several health conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. With these conditions placing patients at higher risk for complications from COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to keep weight at a healthy level.
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