If a person has gained some weight during the quarantine period, it is important for them not to be too self-critical. Several manageable adjustments can help people lose the weight they gained in lockdown.

Quarantine is an effective measure to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

However, life under lockdown comes with its own mental and physical challenges.

As a result of quarantine, some people may notice weight gain during the pandemic — one study suggests 22% of adults reported gaining weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many challenges and disruptions to daily routines may play a role in this.

Factors, such as less sleep, less physical exercise, and eating more, may contribute to what many refer to as the “quarantine 15,” referencing the weight gain that many people experience during the pandemic.

However, for those with concerns regarding weight gain, it may be possible to adapt gradual changes into daily routines that may help manage and maintain a moderate weight.

This article explores possible causes of weight gain during the pandemic and suggests some tips and strategies that may help people maintain a moderate weight.

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The restrictions that quarantine places on everyday life are likely to alter and interrupt many people’s daily routines.

The rise in unstructured time, the closure of gyms and recreational centers, movement restrictions, and the enormous stress of the pandemic will all likely affect people’s sleeping patterns, eating habits, and levels of physical exercise, which may contribute to weight gain.

People may also struggle to focus on weight management due to increasing work demands, unforeseen hardships, and safety concerns.

Many potential factors may contribute to weight gain during a quarantine period. These may include:

Stress

Health concerns, financial problems, and general uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to contribute to stress.

This additional stress may alter eating behaviors and result in weight gain.

People are more likely to “stress eat,” which typically involves higher food consumption involving more junk food items.

The stress may also result in people feeling less motivated to exercise.

Mental health

Quarantine is also likely to have a significant impact on many people’s mental health.

Research suggests the COVID-19 pandemic is causing increased levels of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.

People experiencing mental health difficulties may also “emotionally eat,” contributing to weight gain.

Those struggling with their mental health may also find difficulties in maintaining the motivation for physical exercise.

However, one study suggests that instead of gaining weight, some people may view their weight in a distorted manner, causing them to think they have gained more weight than they have.

Click here to learn tips for finding motivation with depression.

Sedentary lifestyle

Due to lockdown restrictions, people may find themselves living a more sedentary lifestyle.

Some research even suggests that active adults have seen their activity levels drop by around 32% in lockdown.

Working from home, physical distancing, and the closure of gyms, parks, and other sports facilities may contribute to this.

Quarantine restrictions may also result in people experiencing boredom, which may cause them to overeat.

People with obesity are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

A 2020 article suggests that disturbances in metabolism due to obesity contributes to negative outcomes.

In particular, experts believe having obesity leads to the reduction of adiponectin, a substance that protects the lungs.

Obesity is also a common comorbidity for other potential risk factors for severe illness from COVID-19, such as diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease.

One study suggests that people with a history of obesity, hypertension, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and heart disease may have the worst prognoses from COVID-19.

For those with obesity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend people follow the measures below:

  • continuing to take their prescription medicines
  • following their healthcare providers’ recommendations for nutrition and physical activity
  • contacting their healthcare provider, community health center, or health department if they have concerns or feel sick

People can try adopting strategies that may help them maintain a moderate weight during quarantine.

Generally, the most effective method of weight loss is a healthful diet and adequate exercise.

Some of the following tips may help promote weight loss.

Exercise

People can perform a variety of exercises in the safety of their own homes.

These can include yoga, body weight exercises, or simply walking around the house.

Click here to learn more about exercising at home.

People can also try an online workout program. Typically, these programs are cheaper than gym or class memberships, while some are even free. There is a large variety to choose from, which may suit a person’s preferred activity and health goals.

Research suggests that using online apps or programs for exercise can help people overcome barriers such as a lack of time, facilities, or enjoyment.

Click here to learn more about online workout programs.

Some people may also consider trying an online personal trainer (PT). Usually, an online PT will provide workout plans, nutrition plans, and advice to help people meet their fitness goals.

A 2017 review indicates that PTs can improve people’s adherence to workout plans and positively impact their attitude to exercise.

Click here to learn more about online personal trainers.

Dancing is another form of exercise that people can perform at home. Dance workout videos may provide a simple and fun way for people to stay active, with the added benefit of improving mood.

A 2020 study notes that sedentary females participating in dance fitness exercises three times per week had improved markers of both physical and mental health.

Click here to learn more about dance workout videos.

Nutrition

While it may be tempting to indulge in convenient or comfort food, they are typically not healthful options.

A 2018 study notes that a healthful diet is likely to be rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality proteins. A person following this type of diet may also wish to cut down on foods with added sugar, refined grains, and highly processed foods.

Click here to learn more about the best foods for weight loss.

If possible, it may also be beneficial for people to eat home-cooked meals as often as possible, rather than relying on takeout or ready meals.

A 2017 study suggests that people who ate five home-cooked meals per week were 28% less likely to have excess weight and 24% less likely to have excess body fat than those who ate home-cooked meals fewer than three times per week.

Routine

People can try creating daily routines to preserve a sense of normality.

This can involve scheduling regular times to wake up, eat meals, exercise, and sleep.

People can also plan their meals and set aside time for meal preparation. A 2017 study suggests a link between meal planning and a healthful diet and lower rates of obesity.

It is also important to establish a regular sleep routine and get plenty of rest. Evidence suggests there is an association between obesity and a lack of sleep.

Setting aside regular time for exercise each day may also help people maintain regular physical activity.

Some people may notice some weight gain due to quarantine restrictions. This could result from factors such as excessive stress, less exercise, and disruptions to daily routines.

However, people can introduce gradual changes to their lifestyle and diet to help maintain a moderate weight.

It is also crucial for people to go easy on themselves during these trying times. A person should not feel too self-critical if they have gained weight, as negative thoughts and emotions may have an adverse effect on their mental health.

Some tips that people may find useful include establishing a daily routine, finding a form of exercise they enjoy, planning and preparing healthful home-cooked meals, and getting plenty of sleep.