According to national figures, 61% of Americans say they have gained weight during the COVID pandemic. The average was 29 pounds gained, and roughly half of those reporting weight gain said they had …
According to national figures, 61% of Americans say they have gained weight during the COVID pandemic. The average was 29 pounds gained, and roughly half of those reporting weight gain said they had gained more than 15 pounds, and 10% had gained more than 50 pounds.
Now that the weather is warmer, more people are vaccinated and the virus lockdown restrictions are moderated, a large segment of the population will be looking to get back into shape.
Dr. Robert Chandler, of 307 Health, said the situation is not unlike the New Year.
“This isn’t the time to jump in and say ‘Hey, I haven’t done anything in a year and a half,’ and start training for a half-marathon,” he said.
If you do too much, Chandler said, you aren’t physically ready and set yourself up for failure and may quit.
Instead, the doctor advises starting small and set achievable goals. National guidelines suggest adults need 30-60 minutes a day, five days a week of mild to moderate exercise, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise five days a week. Those guidelines have to be worked up to as a longer-term goal.
“If you aren’t doing anything, what you really want to do is start with a 10-15 minute walk twice a week,” Chandler said. Setting reasonable goals might mean adding a few minutes each week, or another day of walking each month.
Motivation is also a factor, he said. Walking with a partner, a pet or a spouse could be that motivation.
It is much the same for a change in diet.
“Not all diet changes work for everyone,” Chandler said. “You want to look at the long term benefits of exercise, eating healthy and weight loss. You have to take into account what you are willing to do and what you are comfortable doing. You have to find what works for you.”
That means finding what works in your situation and implementing changes slowly over time.
“You want to find a way to start small and stick with it over time,” Chandler said, in both diet changes and exercise.
Chandler also said it may be beneficial for some patients to change their routine as needed.
“You could walk, bike or choose gym options,” he said.
“And there is the pool,” Chandler added. He noted the Powell Aquatic Center’s continuous river is good for walking — especially for those who have concerns about joint pain. It can be used, he said, in the direction of the flow to start and then, as stamina improves, by walking against the current.
Chandler is a physician member of 307 Health and can be reached at 307-764-3721.