COVID-19 is undoubtedly the worst public health crisis of our lifetimes. Millions have been infected, over 600,000 have died, and we continue to learn more about the disease’s harmful effects by the day. The impacts on public health will be permanent, and the worldwide public will have a new view of health and sanitation practices.
But the pandemic is already making us healthier. How so? The shift to our homes has restricted us from our gyms and restaurants but has changed our daily habits — perhaps for the better. Americans are taking more walks outside, eating more home-cooking meals, and investing in home gyms to stay active during the pandemic. These things, paired with the heightened awareness of the benefits of building a strong immune system, will ensure that Americans emerge from this pandemic healthier than ever before.
Here are just a few of the ways COVID-19 is making our society healthier:
1) We’re Getting Outside the Only Way We Can
While many states are still on lockdown, and have been for months, people have been dying to get out of their homes, and with the weather getting warmer, many have taken to walking. There are reports of significantly increased walking and biking trail usage across several states, and increased visits to state parks, leading to some governors to be forced to shut down parks due to overcrowding. Given the extra time many families are saving in their commutes to work and school, they are making that time up by being active and taking walks around their neighborhoods. It’s hard to say if getting out to walk daily will become a permanent trend, but let’s hope people are enjoying getting in their 10,000 steps.
2) Home Gyms Are Taking Off
Go to the fitness and exercise section of your local Walmart and you’re hard pressed to find any available dumbbells. Amazon is short stocked as well. Sales for at-home weight training gear have skyrocketed in the past several months as gym rats have been forced to set up shop at home. But it isn’t just gym rats. Overall, many people who hit the gym more casually, maybe a few times a week, are upping their workout schedule with the extra time that they have. The long-term prognosis? My guess is that while fitness fanatics will rush back to gyms when they reopen, overall, Americans will go to the gym less. This won’t be because they aren’t working out, but because they can do it from the comfort of their own homes without driving to the gym, waiting for the guy before them to finish his sets, or worrying about which equipment might be contaminated. Having a home gym, or at least some weights and a mat, will become more mainstream, making regular exercise easier than ever before.
3) We’ve Been Getting the Zzzzs
Being able to skip the commute has allowed us to do one of our favorite things — sleep in! Studies show that many Americans are getting more sleep during the Coronavirus crisis and more people are reaching the recommended 7–8 hours. Even as some begin to go back to offices, many will realize the benefits they are receiving from getting more sleep — being less groggy, more focused, and more rested and continue to strive for those 8 hours. The societal health benefits will be enormous. Look for a fall in American’s reliance on sugary energy drinks.
4) We Have a New Appreciation for the Home Cooked Meal
While takeout is still an option, with restaurants closed for in-person dining, grocery sales have increased dramatically and Americans are eating at home more than any time in recent history. There has been a resurgence in households cooking meals, which provides a myriad of health benefits, no matter what you’re cooking. The rise in obesity levels in the past 40 years hasn’t been because we’ve been eating at home. Even if homemade pizza or brownies aren’t the healthiest foods, we are still controlling the ingredients we put into them, which is still a healthier option than not knowing exactly what went into them. Additionally, we are more likely to have a greater awareness of how healthy something is when we’re making it ourselves, rather than ordering it off of a menu. After being reminded how easy, enjoyable, and affordable cooking at home can be, I predict we’ll see a decline in the number of times families eat out each year long after the pandemic ends.
It has been said that the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated the future — the trends we’re seeing in retail, work, and public health have changed our habits forever and pushed us into the future. Let’s hope that future is one of greater personal health, better nutrition, and more exercise. It could do wonders for our society.