Staying Active and Healthy During the Stay At Home Order

Like other cities, Chicago is weeks into the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot’s, and by Governor JB Pritzker statewide order on March 20 for Illinois residents to “stay at home”.   This order recommends all residents to stay home unless traveling for essential needs or business. It requires businesses not engaged in essential activities to stop except for minimum operations. The order took effect on Saturday, March 21, at 5 p.m., which initially expired on April 7, now extended until April 30, 2020.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presented some challenges and reveled some alarming data.

In the United States, blacks have three times the rate of COVID-19 infections and almost six times the rate of deaths than whites. In Chicago, African Americans have died at a rate of six times that of whites, even though blacks make up a little less than a third of the population. African Americans account for nearly 72 percent of deaths in Chicago. Many African Americans have underlying health issues such as heart disease, Type II Diabetes, Asthma, and obesity, which may be the cause of high rates of death from COVID-19. Still, they can be avoided or reversed with better food choices and increased physical activity.

How can you work out when you are stuck at home? How are you supposed to eat right, living on non-perishables? How can you get a good night’s sleep when you are anxious about everything?

Regular physical activity remains an essential strategy for staying physically and mentally healthy. Daily physical activity at moderate intensity is associated with better immune function and has been known to lower levels of anxiety and perceived stress.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans suggest 2.5 -5 hours per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, but social distancing complicates things.

With the closing of gyms, it is okay to walk, run or bike outside as long as you practice social distancing- at least 6 feet away from other people, with no gathering of groups. There are indoor activities, and virtual workouts streamed live to fit everyone’s needs and levels of fitness. Play music and dance. If you have a yard, do yard work and gardening, if you have stairs in your house, walk up and down those stairs, for 10-15 minutes 2-3 times a day, do not sit all day. Limit the screen time and get your kids and even the dog moving. We may need to practice social distancing, but this is not the time for social isolation, so also sharing good news and video chatting is for your mental and physical well-being.

During this pandemic, these actions are especially crucial. Be aware of mindful eating, ask yourself, are you hungry or bored or thirsty? Also, if you are concerned about having healthy food on hand, make healthy meals with shelf-stable ingredients like making stews, slow cooker meals. Have a plan before you shop for groceries so that you can limit your exposure to crowds. Take inventory of what is in your pantry and prepare meals around those items as well. Buy the fresh produce fruits, and vegetables cut them up and put them in the freezer. Stress eating is usually out of boredom, so channeling those feelings elsewhere is critical.

The Stay at Home Order may be a part of our lives for a while, but this is not the time to give up on our health and well-being.  Let us remain Safe, active & healthy as we can.


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