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How can you stay healthy and fit while the pandemic is still on? Calgary experts share the goods

Good nutrition and exercise are two important elements for optimum health during COVID-19, according to experts in Calgary.

The finding from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) shows that consumption of nutrient-rich foods appears to be a sensible approach for reducing cellular stress.

According to Canada’s Food Guide, making smart food choices will help you develop a healthy eating pattern. Also, eating plant-based foods may have a positive impact on physical health and mental well-being.

“Nutrition is the root of health, and all our vitality comes from the food we eat,” said Louise Carr, a Calgary-based certified holistic nutrition consultant.

Carr said that inside our bodies, there is a microbiome responsible for creating 85 per cent serotonin, a happy transmitter in the body.

“The research shows that the health of our microbiome impacts our mental health, so we should support microbiome with lots of fruits and vegetables,” she said.

NCBI concluded that emotion regulation and mindful eating lead to positive outcomes for people who struggle to maintain body weight.

Weight gain during COVID-19

Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) said Canadians are gaining weight and exercising less during the pandemic.

The findings show that, after the COVID-19 outbreak, women are more likely to report weight gain than men. According to ACS, 27 per cent of men and 38 per cent of women have gained weight since the start of the pandemic.

“I think creating food rules can cause a lot of stress that can lead to overindulging on foods,” said Amber Romaniuk, a Calgary-area emotional eating, digestive, and hormone expert.

She said nutrition is not about what people eat, but it is about their mindset toward food.

Eating is one thing, but staying active is another.

“I did gain weight at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, then I start doing bodyweight workouts to keep myself active,” said Shauna McLean, a resident in Calgary.

McLean said earlier in the pandemic, she wasn’t always eating healthy and drinks more alcohol, but she lives a vegan lifestyle for many years to maintain body weight.

Benefits of regular exercise

“Exercise is an important part of health because it boosts your immune system,” said Christina Apocourastos, the club manager at Anytime Fitness Calgary Core.

Apocourastos said workouts help with mental health because it releases endorphins.

Christina Apocourastos, the club manager, work out on a weight lifting machine at Anytime Fitness in Calgary. (Photo by Simrandeep Kaur)

According to Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, being active for at least 150 minutes a week can reduce the risk of stroke and gaining extra weight.

The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines recommend adults aged 18-64 to do at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

“People would have a better metabolism if they get their body moving to the point where they have developed sweat,” said Kalyn Steranko, the owner, and CEO of Amped Advantage.

Steranko said exercise and mental health go hand in hand. Exercise creates hormones within the body that support a well-balanced mental state.

“Stay in shape is as simple as moving your body, so motion is lotion,” said Steranko.