Pandemic’s unexpected positive effects on health, well-being in US

Staying at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic had positive effects on the health and well-being of many residents in the US, a new survey reveals.

According to the researchers, despite a shutdown of gyms and movement restrictions on non-essential activities, residents increased their fitness activity and closely monitored their food and nutrition intake.

The survey, which included more than 1,300 from El Paso and Las Cruces, New Mexico, revealed that 37 per cent of participants said they improved their exercise practices by changing their exercise focus, exercising more and trying new fitness activities.

Forty five percent of residents responded that they increased self-monitoring of their food intake.

“We hypothesized that people were going to exercise less during the pandemic after gyms and fitness facilities were shut down,” researcher Cory M. Smith from the University of Texas at El Paso, said in a statement.

“But when we began to evaluate the data, we found some hidden health benefits of the pandemic. People were exercising more and eating better,” Smith added.

For the survey, the team focused on participants personal changes in physical activity, nutritional habits, and changes in thoughts and attitudes toward common hygiene practices and emergency preparedness in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The researcher attributed the study’s positive health outcomes to people’s increased awareness of the risk factors associated with Covid-19, a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

However, a few studies have suggested that lockdowns had a negative impact on people’s physical and mental health.

A study, published in the journal Obesity, showed that the initial phase of the Covid-19 lockdown dramatically altered personal habits, largely for the worse.

Another study, published in the journal American Psychologist, revealed that a quarter of all participants revealed significantly elevated anxiety and depression, exacerbated by lockdown and isolation.