Health experts say pandemic weight gain isn’t something to stress about

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – People across the country — including here in New Mexico — are seeing a spike when they step on the scale after months of quarantine. Some say it’s because of the longtime closure of gyms and becoming less active.

“We have members that have absolutely come to us, saying they have gained weight and lost strength during the closures over the last couple of months,” said Maria Lamar, marketing director for Defined Fitness. “Many of our clients have come back for personal training assistance, as well.”

For others, it’s the trend of “quarantine baking” like banana bread and sourdough, along with snacking all day while at home. Some are even turning to alcohol for stress relief.

“The lives of millions have been disrupted in a very negative way and so first of all, people are in their houses and their homes and are not as physically active or they don’t exercise as before,” said Peter Pribis, an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of New Mexico. “This is a very, very stressful time and people are stressed, they have anxiety issues. Everybody deals with it in different ways. Some people when they are stressed, they will just crave eating. Those are the stress eaters.”

Albuquerque resident PJ Hess says both impacted him, with a job loss and more time at home. However, he says he’s not stressing about it.

“I was doing really good, I was in the gym a ton, and feeling really healthy, like I was just hitting my stride,” said Hess. “This is a change in our lives that only exists because of this and as soon as it’s done, you won’t be able to just sit around.”

Some local health experts agree. With more pressing issues like finances, tackling a hybrid school year for your kids and staying healthy, they say stressing about some extra pounds should be the least of your worries.

“I would say that maybe there are other priorities now. People should stay healthy, stay safe,” said Pribis. “Eat a lot of fruits and veggies so that their immunities are working full time so that people actually don’t get sick.”

However, if you are working activity back into your routine, trainers say to take it slow. Lamar says not to stress out if it takes time to get back to the level you were pre-COVID.

“There is going to be a learning curve in getting back to where you were before the closure,” said Lamar. “We recommend you listen to your body.”

Defined Fitness says for those looking to get back into an active lifestyle, but who aren’t comfortable going to a gym just yet, they’ve posted free workouts online. Many are available through the gym’s main Facebook page.


New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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