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What to do with Shelter in Place Orders

        During times of uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic, good dietary practices, physical activity and maintaining emotional well-being remains increasingly important. Lifestyle changes for many individuals have been implemented, which can cause great stress. Sharma et.al. hypothesized that there are beneficial effects of physical activity, social interaction, and self-efficacy on mental health. Studies show that aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, gardening, dancing and yoga significantly help reduce anxiety and depression. Aerobic exercise provides benefits to mental health because of the exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain, specifically in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, where stress responses are mediated.

        A 2020 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine examined the association of healthy lifestyle and its correlation with years living without chronic disease The researchers found that individuals having healthy lifestyle factors such as proper nutrition, healthy body mass index, moderate alcohol consumption and physical activity were associated with having more disease-free years in life. A healthy body mass index is 18.5 and 24.9 kg/m2 for most adults. The health benefits of regular physical activity include reductions in blood pressure, lower systemic inflammation and abdominal adiposity (fat storage), and improvements in insulin sensitivity and lipid lipoprotein profiles. Therefore, engaging in regular physical activity may prevent type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, and certain types of cancer. The findings in the study suggest that having healthy lifestyle factors and exercising regularly are useful for disease prevention, as well as longevity.

        Levine, MD discusses the body of research showing the efficacy of maintaining good psychological health improves cardiovascular health and prognosis of cardiovascular disease. Psychological well-being, defined as contentment, happiness, and overall satisfaction with life, has been repeatedly correlated to patients having lower rates of cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. Participating in physical activity such as yoga, walking, running, Tai Chi may assist the reduction of stress, anxiety, depression, smoking initiation, and poor nutrition. In turn, maintaining physical activity can increase weight-loss, lower low-density lipoprotein levels (unhealthy cholesterol), lower blood pressure, and decrease inflammation, all of which can lead to improvements in cardiovascular health.

        If possible, during the coronavirus pandemic, go outside for a walk or run, practice yoga or fitness challenges through YouTube, and maintain healthy eating habits. Maintaining physical activity will help your body stay healthy, boost immunity, and release endorphins to help your body and mind stay happy and at ease.

Written by Olivia Vance with Eric Sternlicht, Ph.D. at Chapman University, Orange CA.