After more than a year of living with the Covid-19 pandemic, you and your family may be looking for a change of place — for a quick visit to family or friends, or for a vacation — even temporarily. Before you make a move, though, consider the following safety guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Are You Fully Vaccinated? Being fully vaccinated means that it has been at least two weeks since your second dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine or your second dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, or at least two weeks since your single dose of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Covid-19 vaccine. Being fully vaccinated will protect you as well as create an antibody response without your having to experience Covid-19.
Fully vaccinated travellers are less likely to contract and spread the disease, and can travel domestically without testing, unless testing is required by their particular destination or unless they are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19. Symptoms can include: a fever or chills, a new loss of smell or taste, a sore throat, a cough, congestion or a runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, a headache, or shortness of breath.
In addition, fully vaccinated travelers don’t need to self-quarantine.
Safety Guidelines Still Matter Continue to take protective measures against Covid-19. Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Masks are required on trains and in train stations, on planes and in airports, on buses and in bus stations, and in other areas during travel. Practice social distancing (leave at six feet between yourself and anyone not traveling with you), and wash your hands frequently, using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available.
If You Have Not Yet Been Vaccinated It is best to delay your travel until you are fully vaccinated, as travel increases your chances of contracting and spreading the disease. If you are not fully vaccinated and absolutely must travel, in addition to masking, social distancing and frequent handwashing, the CDC recommends getting a viral test one to three days prior to your trip, and again three to five days following your trip. In addition, quarantine at home for seven days after travel, even if your test is negative. If your test is positive, self-quarantine to protect others from a Covid-19 infection.
In the absence of testing, quarantine for 14 days after traveling. Avoid people who are at increased risk from severe illness from Covid-19 for at least two weeks.
International Travel Whether or not you have been fully vaccinated, if you are hoping to travel internationally, be sure to become familiar with and follow all recommendations and requirements regarding Covid-19 — not only in your area but in the country in which you plan to travel. Visit https://www.nc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list
When You Simply Shouldn’t Go Postpone traveling: if you or if a family member — or anyone else in your travel party — are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, feel sick, have tested positive recently for the virus that causes Covid-19, or have been exposed to someone diagnosed with Covid-19.
If you have not been vaccinated for Covid-19 and are experiencing symptoms of the virus, have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, or have been in situations in which you were not able to physically distance from others, your next step should be contacting your healthcare provider to discuss testing options and quarantining while awaiting the results.
If you have been fully vaccinated for Covid-19 and have no symptoms, you do not need to be tested following an exposure to someone with Covid-19. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after a second dose in a two-dose series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks following a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms ranging from mild to severe may appear 2 to 14 days following exposure to the virus. You may have been exposed to the virus if you traveled recently, attended any gatherings, dinners or other events, or were in crowded or poorly ventilated indoor settings for at least 15 minutes.
Among the reported symptoms of the Covid-19 are: a cough, a sore throat, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, a headache, a new loss of taste or smell, congestions or a runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
Types of Testing Available testing includes a viral test and an antibody test. Testing results can take a few hours to several days, depending upon the type of test and the location of the testing site.
If you cannot be tested by your healthcare provider, ask your provider about an at-home testing option.
Viral Test A provider swabs the inside of your nose, so a mucus sample can be tested for the virus that causes Covid-19. A viral test indicates whether you have a current infection.
If your test is negative, you most likely did not have Covid-19 when the test was administered, or the sample was taken too early in your infection. The negative result does not give you a total clean bill of health, and you still need to protect yourself and others from the virus. You may have been exposed after the test was given, and you can still get sick. You may need to have another test to determine if you are infected with the virus that causes Covid-19.
If you test positive for Covid-19, you will need to isolate to prevent others from getting sick. Stay home and recover. Be sure to inform your provider if any of your symptoms worsen or if you develop any new symptoms.
Your provider will guide your recovery and inform you when it’s safe enough for you to stop isolating. In general, if it has been at least ten days since you first became sick, if your symptoms are improving steadily, and if you have had no fever in the last 24 hours (without the help of any medication), you may get the OK to stop isolating. Most likely you will not be retested.
If you have a compromised immune system or other underlying condition or if you have a more severe case of Covid-19, your provider may recommend a longer period of isolation and recovery.
Antibody Test Antibody testing is also known as serology testing. A provider takes a blood sample to check for antibodies, which may show whether you have had a past infection with the virus that causes Covid-19.
Antibodies — proteins your immune system produces in response to an infection — help fight off infections and may provide immunity, which is protection against getting the disease again.
It can take up to three weeks to develop sufficient antibodies to be seen in an antibody test. Antibodies may be detected in your blood for more than several months after you recover from Covid-19.
An antibody test cannot determine whether you have Covid-19 currently.
You may be tested for antibodies if you have had symptoms of Covid-19 but have not been tested before or if you would like to donate plasma.
A negative test indicated that you have no antibodies, and most likely were not infected with the Covid-19 virus in the past (unless sufficient time has not yet passed for antibodies to be detected).
If you test positive for antibodies, you have had a past infection with the virus, even if you have never experiences any symptoms.
The extent and duration of antibody protection against Covid-19 are unknown at this time. Rare cases of reinfection have been reported.
Continue Safe Practices No matter which testing your provider advises you to have, what your testing results are or how well and quickly you recover should you become ill, in the interest of everyone’s health and well-being, you still will need to continue to take precautions. Wear a face mask when other people are around, wash your hands frequently, avoid indoor gatherings and keep at least six feet from others.
As cases of Covid-19 continue to surge nationwide, families are reconsidering how they will ring in the joys of the holiday season. Some are relying on technology for virtual get-togethers and reconnecting with relatives and friends — in lieu of hosting large gatherings or traveling outside their area.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended celebrating the season at home with those who live with you. Getting together with friends and relatives outside your immediate household can increase the chance of contracting or spreading Covid-19. Even college students with no symptoms who return home from school pose a risk to everyone they encounter at home and along the way.
If you are thinking about traveling this holiday season, it’s best to get the latest fact-based, expert information, weighing the risks and benefits of celebrating away from home. Visit the CDC website for travel updates: https://www.cdc.gov, and consider the following.
Get a flu shot if you have not already done so.
Know your state’s Covid-19 requirements and restrictions, as well as those of the area to which you would like to travel.
Research the number of cases and hospitalisations in your area and at your intended destination, especially in the two weeks prior to your departure. If the numbers are spiking, you may want to postpone your trip.
Get tested for Covid-19, and keep a copy of your results. You and everyone traveling with you should be healthy. Should you test positive, delay your trip, and quarantine.
Know the health status of those you intend to visit. Have they been tested, or have they been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19?
Can you, anyone in your travel party, or someone whom you will be visiting become extremely ill from Covid-19? Even if you tested negative and display no symptoms, you can have and spread the virus to an elderly person or someone with an underlying medical condition — at your final destination or along the way. Also keep in mind that a second wave of Covid-19 will overwhelm some hospitals and medical personnel, which can adversely impact the health of entire communities.
Consider your mode of transportation. Using public transportation — trains, buses, planes — along with waiting for long periods in train or bus stations and airports, presents a high risk of Covid-19 transmission. If you are driving to your destination, stopping at gas stations and rest stops are high risk as well. You are better off not stopping along the way, if possible.
Pack and carry extra masks, extra hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.
Be aware of the highest risk activities, which include religious observances, holiday parties, concerts, parades and all indoor gatherings exceeding 15 minutes. The larger the gathering and the longer the duration, the higher the risk.
Always keep an eye out for the following symptoms of Covid-19: a cough, fever or chills, fatigue, shortness of breath, muscular or body aches, a headache, a new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, a runny nose and congestion, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.
Always put your health and the health of your family and the community first. Weigh the pros and cons of traveling during the holidays, and keep an open mind about postponing your trip until a Covid-19 vaccine becomes widely available.
On December 11, 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S. for the prevention of Covid-19. Rollout began with the first vaccine given on December 14 to a critical care nurse in the intensive care unit at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, NY.
Pfizer said its shots are 95-percent effective against the disease.
The FDA approved emergency use authorization for the Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna on December 18. Moderna claims 94.5-percent effectiveness.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine require two shots. Doses are given approximately three weeks’ apart for Pfizer and approximately four weeks’ apart for Moderna.
On April 13, the FDA and CDC recommended a pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine use while scientists investigate possible links between the vaccine and six cases of blood clots in women ages 18 to 48. Visit fda.govand cdc.gov for further updates or changes.
The FDA has stated that it has rigorous scientific and regulatory processes in place to facilitate development and ensure the safety, effectiveness and quality of Covid-19 vaccines.
Vaccination Rollout and Expansion First in line in the U.S. to receive the shots were healthcare personnel and residents of long-term care facilities. Healthcare personnel included those working in healthcare settings with potential exposure to patients or infectious materials. Long-term care facility residents are defined as adults unable to live independently who are residing in facilities where services include medical and personal care.
Next came frontline essential workers — such as firefighters, police officers, corrections officers, postal workers, grocery clerks, public transportation workers, food and agricultural workers and those working in education — followed by people 75 years and older, those 65 to 74 years of age, people 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions, and other essential workers.
Vaccine rollout continues to expand, and multiple states are opening vaccination to include additional age-groups.
From President Joseph R. Biden’s Inauguration Day on January 20,2021, through April 5, 150 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been given. On April 6, President Biden announced that by April 19, all adults 18 years of age and older in every state will be eligible for vaccination.
Side Effects The most commonly reported side effects of the Covid-19 vaccine include injection site pain, fatigue, a headache, muscle ache, joint pain, fever and chills. More people experienced these side effects after the second dose than after the first dose.
Why Vaccinate? As of mid-April, there have been more than 566,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S., with an uptick in Covid-19 cases in multiple states. Medical experts warn that surges could increase — as people travel, socialize more and ignore health recommendations and guidelines.
In addition to wearing a mask, social distancing and taking other precautions against the spread of the virus, vaccination may be your best hope.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Covid-19 vaccination will help keep you from getting Covid-19. If you do get Covid-19, vaccination may help prevent you from becoming seriously ill. Getting the vaccine may protect those around you who are at risk for severe illness from the disease, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Seniors account for 80 percent of the deaths from Covid-19.
Covid-19 vaccination will protect you as well by creating an antibody response without your heaving to experience the actual disease. If you get the disease without being vaccinated, it is unknown how long any immunity you receive from having gotten the disease will last. The risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity.
Getting the Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available to you is the right step toward helping to protect entire communities and stop the pandemic.
After Vaccination Once you have been vaccinated, the CDC advises continuing to follow Covid-19 safety guidelines and recommendations, such as mask wearing, social distancing and washing your hands.
You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks following the second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna Covid-19 vaccines, and two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Covid-19 vaccine.
According to the CDC, once you are fully vaccinated, you can visit others who are fully vaccinated at their home without wearing a mask. In addition, you can travel in the U.S. without a travel test and without quarantining after travel, and travel internationally without a travel test (depending on the destination) and without quarantining after travel. You should not visit the home of anyone at risk for severe illness from Covid-19 without wearing a mask, and you should continue to avoid medium or large gatherings.
For more information and for Covid-19 vaccine developments and updates, visit the FDA and CDC websites (fda.gov and cdc.gov).
At a time when you may be hesitant to schedule an in-person medical visit due to Covid-19 surges and variants, being able to see your healthcare provider virtually from the safety of your own home, office, car or other space may be a good option.
Telemedicine uses technology for your healthcare provider visits, allowing you to practice social distancing. You, your provider and any other people you would normally have encountered in your provider’s office — including any medical or office personnel, other patients, and anyone you would have met in transit to and from your provider location — are protected from Covid-19.
When coming into contact with other people is decreased, you may be able to reduce the risks from Covid-19 and keep yourself, along with your family, healthy.
Technological options include using your smart phone, computer or any other forms of telecommunications technology — basically using any web browser access to the Internet — to allow you to check in with your provider, see and speak to each other and address your specific healthcare issues.
You can talk to your provider and/or use messaging while saving on travel time, waiting time and transportation expenses.
Knowing Whether Telemedicine Is the Right Fit for You Depending on the state of your health — and the nature of your particular visit or condition — telemedicine may be appropriate for you.
Among the services you can receive are general and routine healthcare, medication management, help with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, allergies, asthma and arthritis, coughs and colds, nutrition counseling and prescriptions.
Your provider may be able to virtually see conditions such as rashes, conjunctivitis, inflammation, wounds, bruises and cuts — or may ask for an in-person visit.
When In-Person Provider Visits Are Necessary Your provider may need to see you in person for neurological or cardiological symptoms or a dental emergency. For chest pain, signs of a stroke or a heart attack, shortness of breath, head or neck injuries, or any other emergency, you will need to go to an emergency department without delay.
A Matter of Convenience Telemedicine can be a major convenience if you are on vacation, on a business trip, traveling unavoidably, outside of business hours, or at home with a sick child or other family member.
With the benefits offered by virtual healthcare visits, some patients who may not have bothered to contact a provider and show up for a scheduled in-person appointment previously, might actually consult with their provider now and benefit from an important, life-changing diagnosis — simply because it is convenient.
If you have not yet received the influenza vaccine, getting your shot now will be your best protection against the flu and its potentially serious complications. Vaccination is especially important this year, since flu season and a spike in Covid-19 cases are occurring simultaneously.
Preventing the flu or reducing illness from the flu may lessen the number of flu sufferers requiring hospitalization at a time when the healthcare system is already becoming overwhelmed due to Covid-19.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that during the 2019-2020 influenza season, influenza was associated with 38 million illnesses, 18 million medical visits, 405,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths.
The CDC recommends an annual influenza vaccine for people six months and older, especially those who may be at risk for complications — such as young children, older adults, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions. Your healthcare provider can address any questions or concerns you may have regarding vaccination.
A Long Season The flu season begins in early fall and continues through May. Even if you don’t get the flu shot early in the season, you can still benefit from receiving it in February or later.
You can get a flu shot at your provider’s office or at one of the local or chain pharmacies. It takes up to two weeks to build up immunity after receiving a flu shot.
Some people may experience side effects from the vaccine that include muscle aches and a slight fever. Note that according to medical experts, you cannot catch the flu from receiving the flu vaccine, contrary to the opinion of many who may be hesitant about vaccination.
About the Flu Influenza is a respiratory infection that can come on suddenly and can cause mild to severe illness, or even death.
Symptoms last from a few days to a couple of weeks. Someone with the flu may experience fever, chills, a persistent cough, a sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, eye pain, fatigue and chest discomfort — along with the sneezing and stuffy nose you might suffer with just a cold.
If you get the flu, stay home to help prevent spreading it to others, and take good care of yourself. Rest, hydrate and take any medicine your provider prescribes.
Seek medical attention immediately if you experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chest pain, constant dizziness, seizures, worsening of any medical conditions you may already have, or severe weakness or muscle pain.
Ways to Stay Healthy In addition to getting a flu shot, adopting these lifestyle habits will help you and your family work toward better health.
Wear a mask, and follow the Covid-19 recommendations of health experts at the CDC.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (use hand sanitizer when you don’t have access to soap and water).
Avoid touching your face.
Follow a healthful diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and energy-boosting proteins.
Drink water throughout the day.
If you have been sitting for long periods, increase your level of physical activity. Work toward exercising regularly.
Don’t compromise when it comes to getting essential sleep.
Learn to manage stress, especially in the Age of Covid-19.
Stay away from those who are sick.
Cover your sneezes and coughs to avoid spreading germs.
Stay home when you are ill.
Keep your house clean and sanitized, including wiping and disinfecting germ-harboring sinks, faucet handles, counter tops, toilet flushes, light switches, doorknobs, toys, remotes, phones, keyboards and your computer mouse.
It’s time to get everyone in your household up from the couch
By Elaine Marotta
Due to the many changes, closures and restrictions during Covid-19, you may find that you and your loved ones are spending much more time at home and are not as physically active as you were before the pandemic.
Or, possibly — like a lot of people — even before Covid-19, you didn’t skate, ski or play tennis, basketball or soccer, never considered exercise a priority given work, school and various other family commitments, or simply could not fit a workout regimen, cycling or even a brisk walk into your day.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four adults worldwide don’t meet the recommended levels of physical activity, and more than 80 percent of adolescents are not being physically active in sufficient amounts.
Sedentary individuals have a 20- to 30-percent increased risk of death when compared to people who are physically active. Up to five million deaths could be avoided if people increased their levels of physical activity.
For your and your family’s health and well-being, it’s worth making an effort to fit in the right moves now. And everyone in your household may even have fun in the process.
Why Exercise? Consider the physical and mental benefits of being physically active.
An essential component of a healthy lifestyle, exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight and may help to prevent and manage diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and some cancers. Along with incorporating other healthy lifestyle habits, being physically active can help control cholesterol and may help reduce high blood pressure. Moving more may ease anxiety and depression, enhance learning, leave you with a healthier mental outlook and improve how you look and feel overall.
How Much Exercise Do You and Your Family Need? The 2020 WHO Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior recommends that children and adolescents ages 5 to 17 get at least 60 minutes daily of moderate-to-vigorous, mostly aerobic physical activity, along with three days a week of muscle- and bone-strengthening, vigorous-intensity aerobic activities.
Adults ages 18 to 64 should get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or at least 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity — or a combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity throughout the week, for substantial health benefits.
For even greater benefits, adults should also participate in muscle-strengthening activities involving all major muscle groups at moderate or greater intensity, on two or more days of the week.
The recommendation for those 65 and older is engaging in physical activity that focuses on balance and strength-training at least three days a week.
Healthy pregnant and postpartum women should get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity each week — incorporating a variety of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
It’s important to note that the WHO guidelines, updated from 2010, also offer physical activity recommendations for people with chronic conditions and children and adults with disabilities.
All groups benefit from regular muscle-strengthening and aerobic exercises. Exceeding the recommendations referenced above if you are physically capable of doing so is even more advantageous. All of us should limit sedentary behavior, particularly time spent in front of the television and on the computer, phone and all social media.
What to Do to Stay Active Physical activity requires you to expend energy. Staying active includes walking, running, cycling, swimming, gardening, doing housework and engaging in sports.
It’s important and encouraging to know that all physical activity is better than none, so always try to work exercise into your day: Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further from your destination to fit in some extra walking, whether running a necessary errand, stopping at the grocery store, or going to your workplace (if you’re not able to work remotely). Use a home treadmill or stationary bike if you have either option while you are watching television or listening to music.
If you have fun with your workouts, you will be more likely to stick with them. Choose physical activities that you and members of your immediate household will consider enjoyable, and exercise together whenever possible. Having workout partners may increase everyone’s commitment level.
Go for virtual at-home workouts and aerobics. Dance, practice yoga and try boxing. Take turns using any home exercise equipment, such as a stationary bike, a treadmill or free weights.
Be Safe Remember that the goal is to improve your and your family’s health and well-being, so always consider safety. Remember to:
Check with your healthcare provider before beginning any new routine, particularly if you have any chronic conditions.
If you have not been working out with any regularity, start out slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your physical activity.
Stay well-hydrated. Keep a bottle of water handy.
Warm up and cool down for five to ten minutes before and after exercising.
If you are exercising outdoors, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Covid-19 recommendations regarding mask wearing and social distancing (stay at least six feet from other people). Wash your hands before and after exercising. Carry hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol with you.
Stay at home if you are sick, and avoid others who are sick.
If it’s too hot, too cold or too humid outside, your home treadmill, stationary bike or a virtual workout may be a better option that day.
Wear the appropriate clothing and shoes for your particular physical activity. If going outdoors, consider the weather as well as you are getting ready.
Listen to your body. Don’t continue at the same workout pace if you are feeling fatigued. Stop immediately if you are too out of breath, are feeling dizzy or nauseous, or are experiencing palpitations or an irregular heartbeat. Contact your provider and follow any provider instructions. Call 911 in an emergency.
The Mediterranean diet is among the best for helping to promote heart health and weight loss
Since we’re at home for dinner more often in the Age of Covid-19, take advantage of this new reality by involving your whole family in preparing simple, delicious, nutritious meals.
Going Mediterranean is an ideal choice if you’re interested in eating healthfully for a lifetime, rather than following a trendy diet plan of the moment that yields short-term results.
Named for the traditional foods and flavors of countries along the Mediterranean Sea — including Italy, Greece and Spain — the mainly plant-based diet is rich in fresh produce, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, legumes and olive oil. Fish and poultry are consumed more than red meat. There are moderate amounts of low-fat or fat-free dairy. Wine is served with meals, in moderation. Fruit for dessert is a fresh, healthy and delicious alternative to empty-calorie choices. Processed foods, added sugars and saturated and trans fats are limited.
Staying healthy is more important than ever, with Covid-19 surges and variants. The Mediterranean diet may help to prevent heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular issues, as it plays a key role in keeping obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in check.
In addition to wonderful food choices, notable are enjoyable aspects of the Mediterranean lifestyle, including relaxing meals at the family table (minus the TV and computers), followed by long walks and outdoor family activities (maintaining mask wearing and social distancing guidelines).
Since a trip to a sunny Mediterranean isle is probably not in your immediate plans due to the pandemic, the Mayo Clinic offers the following suggestions for bringing Mediterranean foods and flavors to your table:
Incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet. Set a goal of seven to ten servings a day.
Choose whole grains. Switch to whole-grain bread, cereal and pasta. Experiment with other whole grains, such as bulgar and farro.
Use healthy fats. A mainstay of the Mediterranean diet, healthy fats are eaten instead of saturated and trans fats, which contribute to heart disease. Olive oil is the primary source of added fat in the Mediterranean diet. It provides monounsaturated fat, which has been found to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad) cholesterol levels. Nuts and seeds also contain monounsaturated fat. Replace butter with olive oil when cooking. Try dipping bread in flavored olive oil instead of using butter or margarine.
Eat fish twice a week. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon and lake trout — are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a polyunsaturated fat that may reduce inflammation in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids also help decrease triglycerides, reduce blood clotting and decrease the risk of stroke and heart failure. Fresh or water-packed tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are healthy fish choices. When cooking fish, grill instead of frying.
Reduce your red meat intake. Substitute fish, poultry or beans. If you do eat meat, choose lean cuts and keep the portions small.
Enjoy moderate amounts of dairy. Opt for low-fat Greek or plain yogurt and small amounts of a variety of cheeses.
Add herbs and spices.Boost flavor and lessen the need for salt.
Enjoy! You may not want to eat any other way. And remember to take that nice, long after-dinner walk.
Take charge of your well-being in the Age of Covid-19
By Elaine Marotta
As we continue to experience the Covid-19 pandemic, protecting the health of family, community and the nation is paramount.
New cases of Covid-19 are spiking, and variants have been detected. Following the latest Covid-19 guidelines as we take the steps necessary to guard our health and well-being matters now more than ever. Here are tips on staying healthy.
Separate the Facts From the Noise Keeping abreast of the latest information regarding Covid-19 — including outbreaks, restrictions and updates on testing and vaccine rollout timing in your area — is crucial. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and Johns Hopkins University & Medicine websites regularly (www.cdc.gov, www.who.int, https://coronavirus.jhu.edu), and read your newspapers.
Remember to: Stay at home whenever you are able. When outside your home (indoors, or outside around people), protect yourself and others from the contagious coronavirus by wearing a mask and practicing social distancing, even if you have been vaccinated. Keep at least six feet from other people. Stay away from those who are sick. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, and use hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol when proper washing is not possible. Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Cover your nose and mouth with your bent elbow if you cough or sneeze. Stay home when your are sick.
Medical experts advise not traveling if you don’t have to. When people travel, the coronavirus travels with them, endangering vulnerable lives. Though it’s difficult to isolate ourselves, we do need to protect the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. Avoid in-person gatherings with those outside your household who have not been vaccinated. Technology provides many alternatives to in-person visits with faraway family and friends.
Opt for Healthy Nutrition You and your family may be cooking at home more often these days. Include a variety of healthy choices in your diet, such as fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, lean cuts of meats, skinless poultry, colorful fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads and pastas, and low-fat or fat-free yogurt, cheese and milk. Avoid processed foods as much as possible, and use healthy fats such as olive and canola oils. Read nutrition information labels to keep your sodium and sugar levels — along with portion sizes — in check. Always cook foods thoroughly.
If you are an older adult or if you have a pre-existing health condition such as diabetes, heart, lung or kidney disease, or a compromised immune system, it’s best to avoid busy, crowded times at grocery stores when shopping for food and household items. Some stores offer special early hours. Alternatively, forgo the market altogether and take advantage of delivery or curtsied pickup services.
Move More Since the arrival of Covid-19, you and your loved ones most likely have spent many sedentary moments in front of your television or computer, or on the phone. Studies show that being physically inactive for long periods can increase the chances of developing cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and type 2 diabetes, among other conditions.
Physical activity improves overall well-being while reducing anxiety and depression, so now is a good time to increase your level of physical activity — safely. Your local gym may not be an option these days, but exercising in your own home or outdoors is. Have fun with at-home virtual workouts. When outside, keep social distancing in mind. Follow the latest health guidelines — and walk, run, cycle, swim, box and even dance your way to better health.
Stress Less Stress is a natural part of life under normal circumstances. With so many changes, health concerns and unknowns at the current time, it is crucial to find healthy ways to manage stress. Making healthy food choices, working exercise into your day, monitoring chronic conditions, avoiding tobacco, getting good sleep, connecting with your family and friends (virtually) and maintaining a positive attitude may help ease your stress.
Get Your ZZZs Sleep is essential to your and your family’s health, safety and quality of life. A CDC study showed that more than one third of American adults are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. According to sleep experts, people who don’t get adequate sleep are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, regardless of age or lifestyle factors.
What’s keeping you awake? In addition to having a sleep disorder, concerns about the pandemic, worry about work and finances, being less active and trying to adjust to a new schedule may be compromising your sleep.
Developing good sleep habits may help prevent poor sleep: First, try not to worry as much. Go to bed only when you are tired. Keep the bedroom quiet and dark (sans television, phone or computer) and the temperature comfortable. When it’s close to bedtime, avoid eating a large meal, drinking lots of water, having caffeine or exercising. If you wake up in the middle of the night and have trouble going back to sleep, spend some time in another room, then return when you are ready to go back to sleep.
Manage High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure Become familiar with your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and speak to your provider regarding guidance on achieving your ideal numbers if your cholesterol and/or blood pressure are high.
High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. An adult’s total cholesterol should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). You can help lower your cholesterol with lifestyle changes such as losing extra pounds, exercising regularly and modifying your diet. In addition, your provider may prescribe medication.
High blood pressure (hypertension) strains your heart and arteries. A healthy blood pressure range is generally considered to be less than 120/80, but no lower than 90/60. Losing weight, exercising regularly, eating healthily, reducing your salt/sodium intake and limiting the amount of alcohol you drink may help lower your blood pressure. Your provider may prescribe medication as well.
Don’t Smoke According to the American Lung Association, smoking is the number-one cause of preventable disease and death worldwide. Smoking-related diseases claim in excess of 480,000 lives in America annually. Not only does smoking cause lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, it increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Smoking ages you (and your appearance), while compromising the health of those around you who breathe in secondhand smoke. If you smoke, please stop. Consult your healthcare provider if you need help.
Monitor Your Drinking, Especially During Holidays and Celebrations The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend drinking alcohol in moderation, should you choose to drink at all. Women should not exceed one drink per day and men should not have more than two drinks. If you are taking medication, check with your provider before drinking any alcohol.