By Janet Seabrook
As if the e-learning and lack of in-person instruction wasn’t enough, the global pandemic has now created another challenge for youth everywhere – unhealthy weight gain. The absence of the usual routine of walking to school, walking the halls, participating in sports activities, etc. have translated into more sitting, bad eating, less exercise and extra pounds!
According to a CDC study, “American children and teenagers have seen a significant increase in weight gain since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with the biggest jumps occurring in younger school-ag ed children and those who were already prone to obesity.”
Fortunately, there are several ways to buck this trend and help get our young people back on a healthy track. Here are a few steps we can all take to get started:
- Establish an exercise routine – Although we should be exercising anyway, moving around has become more important as we find ourselves spending more time at home in front of a computer. Identify a time(s) at least 3-4 times a week to get moving. If you aren’t used to getting your heart rate up, then pace yourself with walking then gradually a brisk jog, etc.
- Clean up those bad eating habits — Just because we are staying inside more doesn’t mean to load up on junk food. Make those trips to the grocery store count! Buy more fruits and vegetables for the family. Make a bold announcement that everyone is going to start eating better – it’s a family affair.
- Download free apps that focus on health – Since we’re on our devices constantly anyway, why not download a few apps that track exercise, healthy eating and even water intake? Many include features that remind you to move around, drink water, etc. Let the technology work in your favor!
- Create a friendly weight loss competition – Nothing is more motivating than a little friendly competition. Set a timeline for the weight loss competition and add some type of “prize” that goes to the winner. It can be as simple as a gift card or a cheat meal at a favorite restaurant. Get creative!
No weight loss journey is ever easy, and the pounds won’t come off overnight. Be sure to avoid those “lose weight quick” gimmicks, and opt for the old-fashioned way – healthy diet and exercise. Keep in mind that obesity can lead to other health problems that we never want our youth to encounter.
The pandemic isn’t over, so weight control should more of a lifestyle, not a temporary fix. Good luck, and remember, YOUR HEALTH MATTERS!
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