Adventist Medical Group Primary Care – Fort Washington
10709 Indian Head Highway
Fort Washington, MD 20744
Is the Quarantine 15 Real?
If you’ve gained a few pounds in the past year, know that you are not alone. COVID-19 changed our lives, creating stress and causing us to rethink the way we eat, grocery shop and exercise, among others. While it caused many people to cook meals at home and order out less, it negatively impacted our access to exercise and healthy fruits and vegetables.
At the beginning of the pandemic, many states enforced stay-at-home orders, meaning residents were asked to stay in their homes except for essential travel and to keep gatherings to a minimum of 10 people. Most non-essential businesses, including fitness and recreational centers, closed temporarily for safety reasons. It’s no surprise that the closure of gyms, along with increased stress, lack of sleep and poor eating habits caused many people to gain weight, referred to as the “Quarantine 15”.
For some, having more time at home meant having the ability to create a home gym, join a virtual workout group or try a new cooking fad found online. However, for others, it meant working longer hours under increased stress or juggling remote work and homeschooling your children. As a result of these added stressors in our lives, the amount of cortisol our bodies naturally produce increased.
Cortisol, known commonly as the “stress hormone,” is important for helping your body deal with stressful situations. While it’s normal to have increased cortisol levels at certain times, if they are too high for too long, they can do more harm than good. Having high cortisol levels for an extended period can lead to:
- Increased weight gain
- Chronic complications including high blood pressure and diabetes
- Lack of sleep and fatigue
- Impaired brain function, causing “brain fog”
- Weakened immune system
Whether you’ve fallen victim to the quarantine 15 or not, it’s never too late to getting your health back on track. Make your health a priority by making simple changes to your lifestyle and diet. Some tips to get back on track include:
- Stay active. Make sure to move a minimum of 4,400 steps per day.
- Don’t skip meals. Eating five small meals a day will help to control hunger.
- Eat healthy snacks. Avoid processed junk foods and opt for apple slices, yogurt, nuts or carrots.
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Keep a consistent sleep schedule, avoid caffeine before bed and turn off electronics 30 minutes before sleep.
- Drink water.
- Stay motivated. Getting to a healthy weight takes time; be patient and consistent.
Focus on making gradual, small changes and over time, you will notice a difference in your eating habits, exercise levels and even your mood. Work with your primary care provider to develop a plan that works best for you. Together, you can work towards a healthier you.
Remember – we still need to continue to take precautions, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated. Wear a mask in public, stay socially distanced, use proper hand hygiene, avoid poorly ventilated areas and large crowds, and most importantly, get vaccinated.