Chicago, Illinois

Say Bye-Bye to the “Quarantine 15” by Stepping

As lockdowns and stay-at-home orders for the coronavirus (COVID-19) were implemented in the middle of March 2020, lifestyles had to be altered as getting up for daily living would be substituted with staying home and standing six feet apart from individuals in public places. Consequently, non-essential businesses like fitness centers and yoga studios were closed, and that may have led to a decrease in activity throughout the whole country.

At least one week after conditions were set, the editorial staff of the famed fitness step tracker Fitbit reported a national activity decline of 12 percent within a week of the lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. About a month later, the editorial staff reported that the steps of people between the ages of 18 and 29 went “down between 16 percent to 23 percent.” What was stranger was that despite being young and in their prime, they lowered their activity levels far sooner than people ages 65 and up.

While the overall activity of Americans either declined or ceased completely, American food consumption habits (many of which are notoriously unhealthful or aimed for convenience) either negatively stagnated or worsened, leading to the newest weight gain trend known as the “Quarantine 15.” Akin to the “Freshman 15,” the weight gain phenomenon that was named after the 15 mythical pounds gained by freshman college students, the “Quarantine 15” is potentially the same amount of weight gained by people who do not eat healthy after lockdowns and stay at home orders took place.

There might be no exact amount or average of pounds gained by each person, except a decrease in activity intersecting with sheltered people opting for culinary convenience and fanciness regardless of food nutrients would unsurprisingly lead to dramatic weight gains. If people with typical American eating habits were averaging 10,000 steps before COVID-19-related mandates were employed and then (based on the aforementioned percentage decreases) saw their step totals decrease to 8400 or 7700 afterward, a minimum of one pound gained weekly should be no surprise. If such people also contributed to the 32 percent rise in alcohol sales in May 2020 (and likely consumed what was sold), a ten-pound gain in two months would not even be a light shock considering what heaviness alcohol with unhealthy food choices bring. Had people realized diet adjustments would be necessary as activity levels would be lowered due to COVID-19-related restrictions, a trend such as the “Quarantine 15” would have likely not occurred.

The “Quarantine 15” is no laughing matter and must be taken seriously as imminent vaccines will be difficult for people to be inoculated with if they are dramatically overweight or obese. As of this publishing (September 2020), gyms and yoga studios have been open for multiple months, and those who need to lose weight must do the near-complete opposite of what they did during quarantine periods: get steps in, primarily drink water, neglect empty calories, eat whole foods only when hungry, and try to get close to eight hours of sleep.

Like many mistakes or moments people regret having in life, it is safer to do the opposite actions that led to the regrets. That way such painful moments will unlikely happen again. Most importantly, with simpler lives and sets of choices, people can make fewer mistakes and more beneficial decisions. With more pre-pandemic normalcies coming back, life might be less complicated and thus an exercise routine with healthy eating habits can give everyone the best health and closest thing to normal life they once had.