kids exercising their healthy habits
Employee Benefits

COVID-19: Making Smart Lifestyle Choices While Sheltered at Home

Ed Oleksiak
Ed Oleksiak
Sr. Vice President, Employee Benefits

The United States and the world are in the middle of a global pandemic that has put most of us under stay-at-home orders. The orders have been put into place primarily to allow our healthcare system to take care of the most severe cases. Those at the highest risk of hospitalization and death are those with other risk factors such as diabetes, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease, and liver disease.

While we are subject to stay-at-home orders, we can sit in front of the TV and binge watch our favorite shows, watch endless hours of tragic reporting on the news channels…or, we can get outside and walk, run, bike, or just play.

Staying Healthy During and Post-COVID-19

I went on a 5-mile walk/run the other day and was amazed at what I observed.

I saw families enjoying healthy outdoor activities together, including many games of family basketball. One family was playing 2-on-2 basketball, mom and daughter against dad and son. How fun! In another game, a grade schooler in athletic shoes and shorts was playing with his teenage brother with long hair, jeans, and bare feet and his dad with jeans and casual dress shoes. My guess was that those three hadn’t played ball together very often.

There were many dogs being walked. One middle-aged couple was walking their older dog and trying to teach the old dog how to go for an obedient walk. Clearly, the dog and its owners hadn’t been out for many walks.

Bike riding was very common, too. In particular, a mom was on a bike ride with her young son. The son was riding in and out of the ditches as the mom tried to remember how to balance on a bike. Lots of yard work was taking place, along with house painting and other outdoor chores.

As all of these people finished up their time outside together, most of them probably went inside to prepare dinner and eat together as a family — another rare activity for the modern family.

Finally, they probably all got to bed at a reasonable time for a good night’s sleep.

What does this boil down to? We have CHOICES on how we spend our time during the stay-at-home orders.

While the CDC is currently focused on COVID-19 reporting, annually they publish reports about obesity in the U.S. Every year, they report increasing rates of obesity among adults in the U.S.

Louisiana has one of the highest per-capita cases of COVID 19 in the U.S. and the world. They also rank at the top of per-capita obesity and other lifestyle-related health conditions.

My hope is that after this “new” normal ends and we go back to our “old” normal, we don’t forget about the “healthy” choices we made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While tragic in many ways, the diamond in the rough could be a physically and mentally healthier country. Who knows, maybe the 2021 CDC report on obesity will show a decrease in adult obesity for the first time in decades!

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