Tackling the “Quarantine 15”

During the fight against COVID-19, staying home and limiting interactions has been key to preventing community spread. While there is no argument that taking these steps has benefited all of us in the long run, unhealthy side effects have occurred during this time.

“Many people have experienced weight gain during quarantine,” says Dr. Lee Barnes of the White-Wilson Family Medicine Clinic in Niceville. “If not addressed, these gains could result in the development of diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.”

According to Dr. Barnes, this weight gain, known as the “Quarantine 15,” likely stemmed from a disruption in the routine as a result of the pandemic.

“People were working from home with more readily available food to snack on,” he explains. “Add into this the decreasing time spent outside of the home and off of the couch, gyms being temporarily closed and the push to support local restaurants by ordering take out and it was inevitable that some of us would see growing numbers of the scales.”

“The good thing is,” Dr. Barnes continues, “you can still turn it around before it gets too dangerous.  Diet and exercise continue to go a long way, but, given that we are still seeing great spread of the virus, it is going to look different than before.

To tackle your quarantine weight gain while continuing to take precautions against contracting or spreading COVID-19, Dr. Barnes recommends prioritizing healthy habits at home. He suggests:

  • Implement at-home fitness routines in place of gym visits. There are still many at-home aerobic programs out there that can guide you in exercising if you aren’t sure what to do. Most are offering discounted programs for the New Year and there are even free alternatives on websites such as YouTube. If these types of classes aren’t your thing, something as simple as going for a jog or walk will help you burn calories and keep your lungs healthy.
  • Plan and prep your meals ahead of time. When we are hungry, we seek out what is easy and comforting. More times than not, these aren’t the best decisions. Planning ahead and prepping can help you make sure you have healthy meals on hand. 
  • Keep your mind and your hands busy. With activities that previously enjoyed remaining closed, boredom continues to be part of our daily lives. But, sometimes, our minds can confuse being bored with being hungry. We then seek out snacks to satisfy this ‘hunger’ and those snacks can add up. If we keep our minds busy with hobbies, we not only won’t have time to snack, our brains won’t feel these urges in the first place.

While today’s buzz may be around the losing the “Quarantine 15,” Dr. Barnes reminds us that weight management is an important part of healthy living at all times.

“Regardless if you are staying home or living your life as normally as before, maintaining a healthy weight should always be a priority. Tactics such as the ones I mentioned are easy steps everyone can take to start living healthier and happier and prevent the risk of future illness.”

Dr. R. Lee Barnes is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at White-Wilson Medical Center in Niceville where he is currently accepting new patients.  Click here to learn more about Dr. Barnes’s approach to patient care.

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