In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate and profound impact on many people’s lives. People found themselves unable to follow their usual routines when it came to cooking and eating, socializing, and engaging in physical activity. On top of this, the pandemic caused exceptional amounts of stress for many people, which further affected their ability to maintain optimal physical and mental health.
Early on, it also became clear that people who had certain health conditions or health-related risk factors were more likely to suffer from severe symptoms due to COVID-19. Having one or more of these risk factors provided extra incentive to focus on one’s health. But with a near-constant stream of change, uncertainty, and ongoing stress related to the pandemic, it was hard for many people to make meaningful progress toward their wellness goals, despite the urgency and importance.
While some people managed to cultivate healthy new behaviors, others struggled, with 42% of American adults reporting unwanted weight gain in February 2021, according to the American Psychological Association.
Obesity & COVID-19 Severity
For people who struggle with obesity or excess weight, the risks associated with COVID-19 are significant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk for serious illness due to COVID-19 is higher among people who are obese as well as those who are overweight. Research has linked higher body mass index (BMI) with greater risk for hospitalization, admission to an intensive care unit, invasive mechanical ventilation, and death due to COVID-19.
There are a variety of reasons why obesity may contribute to more severe COVID-19 outcomes. Obesity can lead to chronic inflammation and impaired immune function, and it can also have a negative impact on lung capacity, which can worsen the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19. Severe COVID-19 symptoms are also associated with cardiometabolic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Cardiometabolic conditions include cardiovascular concerns like heart disease and conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes.
Achieving optimal cardiometabolic health is a challenge for many people across a range of weights. However, the benefits of working on this aspect of your well-being can be immense. In addition to helping to protect yourself against the harsh impacts of COVID-19, you can improve your mental and emotional well-being, work on achieving a healthy weight for you, and create daily habits that allow you to take control of your long-term wellness.
Importance of Weight Management Three Years In
Three years after the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 is still a significant worry for many people. As of March 30, 2023, there were 25 U.S. counties, districts, or territories that were classified as having a high COVID-19 Community Level and 279 with a medium Community Level, according to CDC.
Many people have found a new sense of normalcy and routine and may feel like they’ve evaded the worst of the COVID-19 crisis. However, it’s usually best to remain proactive when it comes to maintaining your physical and mental health, as well as working toward any weight management goals you may have. By investing in your well-being today, you can help protect yourself against uncertain circumstances in the future.
If you are struggling with obesity, a weight-related health condition, or a concern like emotional eating, these tips may help you begin improving your cardiometabolic health today:
- Discover helpful ways to manage stress. Unchecked stress can play a major role in weight gain as well as increase the risk for cardiometabolic conditions.
- Create a regular eating schedule to help you tune in to natural hunger cues and reduce the temptation to eat in response to emotional triggers.
- Work on choosing nutritious foods, prioritizing healthy physical activity, and getting enough sleep. Healthy diet and exercise can improve cardiometabolic health and lower the risk for severe COVID-19.
While the above strategies may seem simple, putting them into practice is rarely easy. However, with the right support and a clear view of your personal goals, you can build a foundation for better weight management and optimal health. At Structure House, we help people create healthy habits in the areas of nutrition, fitness, and behavior so that they can face the future with confidence.