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March 30, 2020

Keeping Healthy Habits During Coronavirus Pandemic

Like so many, you probably have found it challenging to maintain healthy habits during this coronavirus pandemics. Our lives have been turned upside down.

healthy habits
Photo by LYFE Fuel on Unsplash

Many are working from home. Many experience increased stress and anxiety, not only related to getting COVID-19, but also due the nasty virus’s impact on our national economy and personal financial resources.

Here are our simple basics tips to maintain your healthy habits as best you can.

Stressful times like this lead to disruption of our schedules, overeating, eating less healthy foods, and decreased physical activity. Also, let’s not forget poor sleep.

Routine

As much as possible maintain your normal wake up time and bed time. Since many are now working from home they feel they can wake up later. This is probably true since you need less time to get ready for work, but avoid that temptation. If you wake up later for weeks then that will become your new habit and the new norm for you. Breaking it later will be more challenging than maintaining your normal wake up time during the pandemic.

Same is true for sleep. Go to bed the same time as you did before the pandemic broke. Keeping your wake up and bed time constant will enable your body to maintain its usual circadian rhythm will regulates the ebb and flow of our hormones and other biologic processes that keep our bodies functioning as optimal as possible.

Eating

Maintaining your normal wake up and bed time will make it easier to maintain your typical eating times. If you wake up later then your whole eating schedule is likely to be thrown off even more so if you are now working from home where you may have the luxury of nibbling though the day.

Stressful times frequently leads to eating convenience foods which tend to be nutritionally poor but calorie rich. These convenience foods tend to low quality carbohydrate based meals.

If you now work from try to replicate when and what you would normally eat if you were at your workplace. Make sense? Also, if you now work from home avoid buying snacks and unhealthy foods. It’s foolish to think you can buy something and yet not eat it if it’s in the house. It will be too easy to succumb to temptation when you need to take a break from work when at home and grab an unhealthy snack.

To combat this prepare some healthy foods in advance that you can snack on if needed. In other words, make those healthy foods more convenient to get your hands on.

Exercise

For me this personally, this has been the biggest challenge since the pandemic broke with health clubs now closed. Outside doing pushups I really have not done much in terms of resistance training and my “aerobic” training has been limited to walking which I call an activity of daily living and not a form of exercise.

You can probably find inexpensive home exercise equipment for sale like stationary cycles, ellpitical machines, and treadmills. But, if you typically work out at a fitness center it can be hard justifying the cost of home equipment when you don’t how long your fitness club will be shut down. Do you want to spend money on a piece of equipment to only find your club has re-opened in a week?

I broke down and bought a home gym (not yet delivered). Not exercising like I usually do has disrupted my sleep more than anything in recent weeks.

Other Tips

Try to get adequate sleep. See these sleeping tips.

If anxious or stressed about the future, then seek counseling. Better to do address those issues now rather than later.

Drink plenty of water.

Consider taking extra vitamin D and C. Vitamin D has been shown to reduce the incidence of respiratory infections and a former CDC director has encouraged its use during the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep things in perspective. It is hard to know what numbers to believe about this pandemic. Countries report statistics differently. The one thing we know, the more people we test the more will test positive. We find it hard to believe that China got to 80,000 cases quickly and then BOOM, no more cases. Perhaps China quit testing people.

Because this is a novel or new virus, high infection rate is expected as we have not developed prior immunity to it. But this does not mean the death rates will be high as some predict though it will likely exceed more recent pandemics.

It is likely far more people have been infected with coronavirus and not even know it. Paradoxically, this is good news because it means the death rate is far less than the 2% to 4% some countries are reporting. Look at this study from Iceland which shows half the people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have no symptoms.

Death rates being reported across the globe are based on the number of positive tests obtained not the number of people who have been infected with the virus. We don’t know that number who have been infected, but we do know it’s higher than the number who have been tested.

Keep in mind, far more people have died from influenza this flu season than have died from COVID-19. Also, 60 million Americans got infected with the swine flu (including my one son) in 2009-10 with nearly 300,000 hospitalizations, and 12,000 deaths. These numbers exceed what we see thus far from COVID-19 which has just over 120,000 reported cases and 2,000 deaths in the United States as of this writing. Though we do expect deaths from COVID-19 to exceed the 12,000 from the swine flu in 2009-10.

Many who are old enough to remember the 2009 swine flu pandemic, don’t remember it at all. Some were not aware there was even a pandemic as that pandemic did not get nearly the media attention at COVID-19.

Also, remember this. All things pass. Stay optimistic. Stay hopeful. One day this will be over, and there will be some good that will come from it. But, be smart. Do not take any unnecessary risks. Avoid situations were large crowd congregate.

 

 

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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