Story at a glance

  • It’s been four months since the coronavirus pandemic forced many Americans home to self-quarantine.
  • Surveys show that sales of wellness and fitness equipment have increased, but others show that many are more sedentary than before the pandemic.
  • Experts say that weight gain is normal during a time of increased stress and unprecedented circumstances.

Americans are often criticized for living a more sedentary lifestyle than residents of other countries, but during a global pandemic, staying home is exactly what the doctor has prescribed. But what effect has this had on their fitness?

Until recently, most gyms were closed under states’ stay-at-home orders, although some have begun reopening at limited capacity. Americans certainly bought more fitness equipment in quarantine, as sales increase and stores run out of stock. 

Sales of dumbbells went up by 1,980 percent in March and April of this year compared to 2019, according to eBay sales data, while weight plate sales increased by 1,355 percent. The CEO of fitness session bookers Gymcatch said they’ve seen online bookings go up by 20 times as much compared to the same period in 2019. 


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Still, without leaving home, many have found it difficult to maintain the same level of activity as before quarantine. A study for Naked Nutrition, a protein powder company, found that of 2,000 Americans who routinely exercised, 65 percent were taking time off to "let themselves go a bit” and half had given up on their fitness goals for the summer. 

Nearly that same number, 64 percent, had tried an in-home exercise routine, with the most common forms of working out in quarantine being outdoor walks, exercise apps, health/exercise websites, online live stream classes and pre-taped workout videos. 


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At the same time, some are eating more, with half having increased their consumption of refined carbohydrates and 46 percent increasing protein consumption. The average person estimates they've gained 5 pounds since entering self-isolation during the pandemic. Another survey by OnePoll for Nutrisystem, a weight loss company, found 76 percent of the same number of respondents are snacking more, and 42 percent said they’ve struggled to maintain a consistent eating schedule. That same study, reported by the New York Post, found 76 percent of respondents said they’ve gained up to 16 pounds.

But that may be changing — as the study found 63 percent of the same number of respondents are putting more emphasis on their diet. With states reopening, many Americans who’ve been itching to get out of their homes are becoming more active. But experts say wherever you are, don’t be too hard on yourself. 

"This is an unprecedented time and it calls for a lot of compassion and grace. Be proud of yourself that you’re doing the best you can," Samantha Cassetty, a registered dietitian, wrote in an article for MSNBC


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Published on Jul 06, 2020