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Tips for Getting Healthy After the Pandemic

61% of people reported undesired weight changes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The average person gained 29lbs during the pandemic and 1 in 10 people surveyed said they gained more than 50lbs since the pandemic began. 

The majority of people who gained weight said the COVID restrictions interrupting their daily routine caused their weight gain.  54% of people said they were exercising less than they were before the pandemic, and 64% of people said they were indulging in unhealthy snacks more often.   

The extra weight gained during the pandemic not only affects your self-esteem and body image, but it can have real long-term health consequences. 

People who gain more than 11lbs are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and Type II diabetes and people who gain more than 25lbs are at higher risk of having a stroke. 

If you’re one of the millions of people who gained weight during the pandemic and want to get healthy again now that the world is starting to get back to normal again, here are some tips on how you can increase your emotional and physical health. 

Start Exercising

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise per week. 

Moderate aerobic exercise includes taking a brisk walk or swimming.  Vigorous aerobic exercise includes running or dancing.  

If you’re just starting to exercise again, don’t feel pressured to meet those exercise goals right out of the gate.  They are benchmarks you should be working towards, but it is more important to start small and get in the habit of exercising rather than pushing yourself too hard at the start and losing your motivation or hurting yourself. 

In fact, trainers suggest that if you have been inactive for more than a month, you should only resume your physical activity at 25% to 50% of the level you were accustomed to before your break. 

One study found that on average people took 48% fewer steps during the pandemic than they did before the pandemic.  A safe and achievable exercise goal to start with is to increase the number of steps you take to your pre-pandemic level. 

Once you’re in the habit of moving your body more, set a new fitness goal to work towards.  Maybe it is dancing for 30 minutes a day or strength training three times a week. 

If you start working out in a gym, be sure you protect yourself by wiping the machines down before and after you use them and keep at least 6 feet between you and other guests.

Finally, find a workout partner.  People who work out with a friend are more successful because they exercise more consistently and typically have longer workout sessions. 

Eat Healthier

47% of adults admitted to eating more food during the pandemic than they did before it, and, in a lot of instances, the extra food consumed was unhealthy junk food.  Additionally, one study showed that alcohol consumption increased by up to 41% since March 2020. 

One of the best ways to get healthy after the pandemic is to change your eating habits.  Increase your fruit and vegetable consumption, eat more protein, and lower your sugar and salt intake. 

Adding more plant-based foods to your diet is one of the best ways to get healthier because it eliminates a lot of fatty and unhealthy foods from your diet. 

56% of people who follow a predominately plant-based diet have better digestion than they did when they ate meat and 53% said they slept better. 

If you put on more than 11lbs during the pandemic, incorporating plant-based foods into your diet can help decrease your chance of heart disease and diabetes. 

Vegans are 32% less likely to die of heart disease and 23% less likely to develop Type II diabetes compared to meat-eaters.

If you’re worried you have to give up your favorite foods to eat plant-based, you’ll be happy to learn there are countless delicious meat alternatives on the market.

You can enjoy the flavor of a burger without consuming unhealthy red meat.  

Develop a Nighttime Routine

The COVID-19 pandemic caused increased stress and anxiety, which, in turn, lead to an increase in insomnia.  A broken routine and stress were cited as the two main causes of insomnia during the pandemic. 

Sleep plays a much bigger role in your overall health than you realize.  Your heart, blood vessels, and muscles heal themselves while you sleep, and not sleeping enough increases your risk of high blood pressure, kidney disease, diabetes, and stroke.  

If you find yourself struggling to sleep at night, developing a nighttime routine can help eliminate anxious thoughts and prepare your body to sleep. 

A typical nighttime routine starts 30 to 60 minutes before you go to bed and is performed every night as a habit. 

It includes activities like showering, journaling, aromatherapy, and meditation.  Your nighttime routine should include calming activities that relax you and help clear your mind and body of stress. 

Including meditation in a nighttime routine, for example, has been shown to decrease insomnia and fatigue significantly more than simply showering before bed. 

Put together a nighttime routine of calming activities that interest you, and tweak it as you discover activities that help you relax more than others.  

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