How to 'Build Back Better' Health Habits after the Pandemic Year

How to 'Build Back Better' Health Habits after the Pandemic Year

The U.S. is in far different shape today than it was last Memorial Day, and many Americans are, too.

According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association, undesired changes in weight driven by pandemic stress are widespread: 42% of adults reported gaining weight, with a median weight gain of 15 pounds, while 18% reported undesired weight loss. About 66% of people reported changes in their sleep habits, and 23% of respondents reported an increase in alcohol use.

In addition, many people have delayed routine medical and dental maintenance: Think mammograms, childhood immunizations and teeth cleaning. There’s also a mental health pandemic underway in parallel with increased substance use, which must also be addressed.

I am a physician and associate professor of medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine. In my role as the director of wellness, resiliency and vulnerable populations, I hear the concerns of faculty and staff regarding returning to on-site work.

The switch that got flipped in March 2020 to social distancing, remote schooling, mask-wearing and long-distance work – or no work – is switching back almost as abruptly. With little preparation time, many people are faced with wanting to be in top form for reentry. Resuming – or beginning – healthier habits is a wonderful goal. Trying to get back to normal too quickly, however, may be hard ..

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