Some new habits from staying at home to avoid coronavirus optimal for putting on weight

July 9, 2020

The “quarantine weight gain” thanks to the coronavirus-induced sedentary lifestyle and convenient food deliveries is a growing concern for many people. According to Dr. Shim Kyung-won, a family physician at Ewha Women’s University Medical Center, South Korea, revealed that a sudden increase in body weight is very likely to cause health problems such as high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels.

In addition, the weight gained trying to stay away from the virus (social distancing) ironically places people at greater risk of falling severely ill from the infection later on.Similarly, the Korea Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention said a higher body mass index (BMI) – specifically, individuals with a BMI over 40 – is associated with more likelihood of infection and hospitalisation.

For example, Park Seung-yun, a 28-year-old Seoulite, spent most days without ever stepping foot outside his 23-square-meter studio apartment at the outbreak’s peak in March. Telecommuting and social distancing also left Park moving much less than his precoronavirus average, at most only a few hundred steps a day. His weight measurement grew by two sizes in that short time. Park said he needs to watch his weight because of family health concerns, but breaking out of the bad habits formed while staying home was proving difficult.

To help those like Park, exercise is recommended but added caution has to be taken. In Seoul, indoor sport facilities which have been allowed to reopen since social distancing rules were relaxed on May 6 are among government-designated venues that pose a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus. To boost safety, wearing face masks is mandated for all users.

Unfortunately, a Pilates instructor in central Seoul saideven professional trainers such as herself struggled getting used to exercising with a mask on. “Being active in masks may tire you out faster. Trying low-impact movements and taking breathing breaks in between can help make keeping masks on during exercise easier,” she said.

Preventive medicine professor at Korea University College of Medicine Dr. Choi Jae-wook said people wearing masks are advised not to engage in high-intensity physical activity. “Sweaty masks are not only ineffective, but can also cause serious breathing issues. This is particularly problematic for those with existing cardiovascular or respiratory conditions.”

“Take your exercise outdoors – at a safe distance from others, you won’t need to wear a mask,” he said.

Meanwhile, pulmonologist Dr. Yum Ho-kee at Inje University Paik Hospital thinks exercise facilities and parks should be deemed “essential establishments” from a public health perspective.“Diabetes and hypertension kill more people than the coronavirus. We have to find safe ways for people to get regular physical activity so long as the pandemic lasts to keep other health problems at bay.”

“Staying active in various ways throughout the day is much more effective than short bursts of workouts in terms of weight control and general health,” Dr. Shim added.


Category: Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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