The Freshmen Fifteen has nothing on Quarantine Fifteen! There’s nothing wrong with the natural fluctuations of weight gain or loss, it’s just the body’s way of responding to changes in activity and diet. However, many people in the various global lockdowns that have struck the world since late 2019 have experienced such a severe and sudden lack of activity that they have begun gaining weight too rapidly for the body to process. How many people? RunRepeat did a survey of 19,903 people in 140 countries and had these key findings to report:
- Globally, 35.82% of people reported they gained weight during the pandemic
- Of those that gained weight, 71.25% gained more than 5 lbs.
- The United States had the highest percentage of people gain weight (40.52%) during the pandemic
- The UK had the most respondents managing to lose weight (40.54%) during this pandemic, while the US had the least (27.71%).
- In comparison to men, women were 14.17% more likely to gain weight and 16.82% less likely to lose weight.
So you’re not alone if you’re struggling with quarantine weight gain! That’s good news. The bad news is that weight gain in these times in these numbers has a drastic effect on our overall health. The CDC lists over 13 different negative effects of weight gain to one’s physical health. Harvard Medical School published an article asserting that “overweight people are also more likely to lose the psychological benefits of exercise. If they feel rejected, unattractive, or suffer social discrimination, the emotional strain may cause further weight gain. The problem is worse if they fail to lose weight and are blamed (or blame themselves) for lack of self-control.” Therefore, exercise in the pandemic is not only good for your physical health, but also for your mental health.
There are thousands of free and paid resources available for those of various ability levels. Doing some research in to what kind of exercise works best for you and your activity level is vital to maintaining motivation and to preventing against injury. Once you’ve found what works best for you, come up with a schedule that suits your daily habits. If you’re working from home and attempting to home school little ones at the same time, an hour-long virtual kick-boxing class may not be right for you. However, taking 15-20 minutes out of the day to take an evening walk before making dinner can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight for your body. For mental health, even a quick 30-90 second spurt of jumping jacks or other aerobic activity once or twice daily can help manage mild symptoms of depression.
Light strength training is great for both physical and mental health. Strength training takes a bit more guidance and practice to get comfortable with, not to mention patience to avoid injury, but it’s an amazing journey discovering what one’s body can accomplish! The Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry published an article that claims, “Strength-training has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety for individuals with and without an anxiety disorder. Weightlifting using exercise equipment or household items (textbooks, canned goods, milk jugs filled with water, paint cans) may help us to reduce the negative effects of stress and anxiety.”
Ultimately exercise during the pandemic isn’t just about staving off a few extra pounds. In these confusing, stressful, and at times frankly frustrating times exercise is self-care. Both your physical and mental health need you to get up and work out. A little hard work now will have a big impact on your wellbeing later.