How to shed off pandemic pounds during summer

Angela Kervorkian-Wattle

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Summer is coming, and for many, that means getting back in shape and shedding that weight gained during the Covid-19 pandemic. While some have remained physically active during the lockdown, a lot of people may not have had the time or urge to stay fit. But this might be the ideal time to gather the motivation.

The Cleveland Clinic spoke with a sports medicine specialist about gaining weight during the pandemic and what people can do to get back in shape as vaccinations roll out and people start going outside again.

“I think it’s always really important to kind of take baby steps and ease into it. You don’t need to go into the gym and spend an hour and a half doing both cardio and weights right away. I think small incremental steps and changes are the most beneficial, the least intimidating and the most sustainable,” said Marie Schaefer, MD, sports medicine specialist for Cleveland Clinic.

Marie suggested exercising outside as it is safer than exercising indoors at a gym due to the risk of Covid-19. Getting vaccinated should also be a priority if you haven’t already. By being vaccinated, you are more protected during group activities.

Like most doctors and nutritionists, Marie suggests staying away from fad diets and instead stick to the tried-and-true method of counting calories, which has been made a lot easier with phone apps, among other things.

Drinking water and getting enough sleep also sit high on the list, as is maintaining low-stress levels and mental health is critical in a healthy lifestyle.

“If you really find yourself in a very anxious place, even a depressed place, really seek out medical care. The pandemic is uprooting a lot of mental health issues and I think people need to be mindful that this might not just be the pandemic, it might be an underlying mood disorder,” said Dr. Marie.

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