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OBESITY & COVID-19: WHAT YOU CAN DO TO LOWER YOUR RISKS

Working out regularly and eating sensibly are some measures you can take.

01 Aug 2020
Contrary to public belief, it’s not just the elderly and young children who are vulnerable to Covid-19. The CDC (America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has stated that people who are obese, regardless of age and sex, are one of the groups at highest risk of the novel coronavirus.

In a study involving more than 17 million patients in the UK, it was found that people who were severely obese were twice as likely to die from Covid-19 and that the risk rises with the degree of obesity. Basically, the bigger someone is, the higher their risks. The CDC used to define obesity by a BMI of 40 and above, but has since reduced that to 30. Are you in this high-risk group? Follow these steps to fight obesity and potentially protect yourself better against Covid-19.

Get moving

If you don’t yet have an exercise routine,start now. Just get on your feet and incorporate some intentional movement into your day, every day. Park your car farther away and walk those extra steps, take the stairs over the lift, Just start with just 5 minutes on the first day and add 5 minutes each day. Ideally, you want to be moving for at least 30 minutes a day.

Add aerobics

As you increase the amount of intentional movement and start getting used to a regular physical activity, it’s time to up the game. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate – or 75 minutes of vigorous – aerobic activity a week. Group Fitness Classes are one of the best ways to do this, as there is that tribe effect to keep you motivated. Fitness First offers a variety of aerobic exercises at different intensities, so you’re bound to find something that works for you.

Work in some weights

While aerobics takes care of your cardio needs, you also want to build muscles. Remember that fat cells store energy while muscle cells burn them. By improving muscle mass, you increase your metabolic rate and your body will burn more fat. The WHO recommends doing weight training that works all the major muscles at least twice a week.

Manage stress

Stress can make you put on weight by triggering cravings for high-calorie foods. It also activates your fight-or-flight response, which leads to the body holding on to all its resources, including fat. Work on managing your worries and problems in constructive ways. Confide in someone you can trust, write it down in a journal, perhaps give sound healing a try.

 

Watch your nutrient intake

You may be eating more than enough calorie-wise, but are you getting all your essential vitamins and nutrients, and sufficient water intake? This may sound contradictory but you could be obese and malnourished at the same time. Make sure you’re not only feeding yourself enough but more importantly, feeding yourself nutritious food. Start by choosing whole, natural foods over processed junk. Fill up on vegetables, aiming for colours and variety. Drink at least 1.5-3L of water each day.

Minimise sugar

Sugar is one of your biggest enemies in the fight against obesity. Cutting down on the obvious – desserts, cakes, ice-creams – is a good start but you also want to watch out for the hidden sugar in other foods. Always read food labels before putting them into your shopping cart and check with the people preparing your food if it contains sugar.

Top up on fibre

When you consume soluble fibre – found in beans, legumes, flax seed, asparagus, Brussels sprouts – it gets digested by your friendly gut bacteria. They are important for many things, including lowering inflammation, which is associated with weight gain and obesity. A diet that is high in soluble fibre thus helps with weight management but don’t pile it all on right away. Do it too quickly and you may suffer from cramps, diarrhoea and stomach discomfort as the body needs time to adjust. Start by adding a small amount to each meal and gradually work up to about 25gm a day.

Eat fat to get thin

Surprising but true –not all fats are bad for you. In fact, some fats actually help you lose weight. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats namely, which are known as good fats that strengthen the heart, and improve cholesterol levels. They are digested more slowly, making you feel more satisfied after eating and reducing your hunger pangs. Sources of good fats include avocados, fatty fish like wild caught salmon, olives, certain nuts (almonds, macadamias, pecans), olive and coconut oils.

References: 

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2521-4_reference.pdf?referringSource=articleShare

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html

https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/

https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/strategies/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/index.htm

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat

http://www.mydailyintake.net/nutrients/

https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241549028

https://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/harmful-effects-of-eating-excess-sugar-d1115-344239/