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6 Healthier Choices You Can Make During the Second Wave

We asked the experts how to handle what's to come.

With COVID-19 cases rising and new hotspots popping up all over the country, it's become clear we're in the midst of another major surge. Because we've already been doing this for the better part of a year, we have a pretty good idea of what it means to live under lockdown, and we've seen first-hand that the consequences extend beyond the unpredictable coronavirus itself. Particularly in terms of weight gain, which one study by the Obesity Society Research Journal shows clearly.

To summarize the results of this study,we snacked more, got less exercise, stayed up too late, slept poorly, grew increasingly anxious, and gained weight. And since we're already on the topic of bad news, these 9 restaurant chains closed hundreds of locations this summer, another consequence of the pandemic.

While this was a clear result of the first wave, we can approach the second wave with a new determination for staying healthy. This is why we spoke with experts on the following tips on how to make healthier choices as we move through a second wave.

Create structure.

Marking date on calendar

We now know from experience that pandemic-related restrictions challenge our very human need for structure, chiropractor, Dr. Alex Tauberg, points out. Therefore, one of the healthiest choices we can make going forward is to create that structure. Specifically, Dr. Trauberg recommends meal prepping, committing to a reasonable bedtime, and creating and sticking with an exercise schedule. Here is a really helpful breakfast meal-prep guide to get you started.

But also move casually.

walking up stairs

While setting and sticking to an exercise schedule is important, it also helps to move about casually any time you can, advises registered dietitian Alicia Galvin,  a resident dietitian for Sovereign Laboratories.

"Whether you have one minute, five minutes, or 50, take advantage of the opportunity to move," Galvin says. "Do some jumping jacks, go for a quick walk, take the stairs." It adds up. You'll also want to check out these best ways to lose weight during a lockdown.

Don't miss the opportunity to stretch.

Young black woman sitting on the floor at home stretching

Flexibility is as important to good health as strength, but spending more time at home can make our bodies stiffer, Rhonda Klein MD, MPH, FAAD, points out. This comes with negative consequences that go well beyond not being able to hit hard poses in yoga class. Our flexibility impacts our posture, which impacts our general feelings of well-being, according to Dr. Klein, and when we don't feel as "well," we're also less inclined to make healthy choices.

The takeaway? Use the opportunity of being stuck at home to stretch more. And here are 20 ways to pull yourself out of a workout slump right now!

Recognize how challenging this actually is.

girl thinking

Being kind to ourselves and otherwise practicing self-care is of paramount importance at this time, points out personal trainer, Jamie Hickey. That means having a bit of sympathy for yourself by acknowledging how challenging it is to be coping with the pandemic and its restrictions. In fact, weight control is basically impossible without some focus on self-care, which includes having these anti-emotional-eating tactics in your toolkit.

Pratice gratitude.

author at home writing in journal

In the midst of the pandemic, it's easy to lose sight of all that we have going for us. That's why acupuncturist, Dr. Tom Ingegno, advises keeping a gratitude journal.

"This may sound daunting with so much to be worried about, but focusing on, say, three small things every day that you are grateful for can help you refocus on the positive," says Ingegno. Here are 50 more simple things you can do to start feeling better overall.

Take vitamin D.

brunette taking a pill with a glass of water at home.

Dr. Ingegno also recommends making sure to get enough vitamin D. There's a reason doctors are urging their patients to get enough vitamin D. Getting outside and grabbing a little sunshine is the most natural way to build up vitamin D stores, but supplements make a lot of sense when we're being forced to spend more time indoors. Even Dr. Fauci, himself, takes a vitamin D supplement.

Even as the second wave looms, let's not forget about the importance of saving a little money on groceries. And don't forget to sign up for our newsletterto get the latest coronavirus news delivered straight to your inbox.

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a food, health, and culture writer whose work has appeared online and in print for Reader's Digest as well as Health Digest, Huffington Post, Taste of Home, and others. Read more about Lauren