‘COVID-15” became a popular term based on increasing reports and discussions of people gaining weight due to quarantining indoors, moving less, and changing their eating habits.
An American Psychological Association poll of more than 3,000 American adults found that 61% experienced unintended weight changes since the start of the pandemic; 42% reported gaining an average of 29 pounds. The Health eHeart Study, where data was collected and curated from over 200 adult participants found an average 1.5-pound weight gain per month.
However, these reports had limited sample sizes and it wasn’t clear if weight changes were widespread across the U.S. population.
A more recent publication of weight data on 19,573,285 adult patients in 49 states collected from EPIC, a larger healthcare database, did not show significant weight changes of gain or loss in most patients when comparing their pre-pandemic weights in 2019 and 2020 with weights taken in March 2022. A smaller percentage of up to 10% did show weight gain of more than 10 pounds, but about the same percentage of people also lost that amount of weight during this period of the pandemic.
Weight loss or Weight gain?
COVID-related weight gain may have stemmed from altered eating routines, less physical activity, increased stress, and disrupted sleep. Weight loss may have occurred from poor appetite related to anxiety or depression, or decreased muscle mass from less activity; other people may have lost weight in a healthy manner by adapting their eating and exercise habits, such as learning to cook healthy meals at home instead of relying on takeout, discovering home-based or outdoor exercise options, and establishing a set sleep schedule.
Be it weight loss or weight gain during the earlier parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is undeniable many persons had disruptions in their fitness schedules, weight shifts and now back on their fitness trajectory as COVID-19 moves to the endemic stages.
Some may need help to return to their optimized weight, so Health Plus is here to offer suggestions on how different types of exercise can benefit your fitness journey.
Be sure to check with your Healthcare Physician before engaging in any fitness routines. Certain medications may also affect your heart rate, too, so speak with your doctor if you have concerns.
What it does:
Aerobic exercise improves circulation, which results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate. Aerobic exercise also reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and, if you already live with diabetes, helps you control your blood glucose.
Ideally, at least 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week.
Brisk walking, running, swimming, cycling, playing tennis and jumping rope. Heart-pumping aerobic exercise is the kind that doctors have in mind when they recommend at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity.
What it does:
Resistance training has a more specific effect on body composition. For people who are carrying a lot of body fat (including a big belly, which is a risk factor for heart disease), it can help reduce fat and create leaner muscle mass. Research shows that a combination of aerobic exercise and resistance work may help raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
At least two nonconsecutive days per week of resistance training is a good rule of thumb, according to the American College of Sports Medicine.
Working out with free weights (such as hand weights, dumbbells or barbells), on weight machines, with resistance bands or through body-resistance exercises, such as push-ups, squats and chin-ups.
During any workout, exercising at your fat-burning heart rate can help promote weight loss. This zone is where you burn the most calories per minute.
To find your fat-burning zone, you’ll need to calculate your maximum heart rate first. This is the maximum number of times your heart can beat during 1 minute of exercise.
• Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. For example, if you’re 40 years old, your maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute
(220 – 40 = 180).
Generally, your fat-burning zone is 70 percent of your maximum heart rate.
• If your max heart rate is 180 beats per minute, your fat-burning zone is 70 percent of 180, or 126 beats
(180 x 0.70 = 126).
With this number, you’ll know how hard you should work to support weight loss.
While 70 percent is the average fat-burning zone, everyone is different. Some people might enter the fat-burning zone at 55 percent of their maximum heart rate, while others might need to reach 80 percent. It depends on various factors like sex, age, fitness level, and medical conditions.