Coronavirus, Obesity, And Race: Lessons Learned From Practitioners

With more than four million documented cases of Covid-19, the United States continues to have one of the worst outbreaks in the world. In our last article, we pointed out obesity as the unique challenge America faces during Covid-19 pandemic, and listed lessons learned from Asia. Given the significant impact on an individual’s lifestyle during Covid-19, which is magnified by the socioeconomic disparity — particularly within communities of color — it is vital that individuals take a holistic approach to health and wellness. 

Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has brought change to the lifestyle of most citizens in America, some communities have been more heavily impacted than others. The Center for Disease and Control (CDC) found that while African Americans consist of 13% of the US population, they have accounted for 33% of the people hospitalized with Covid-19. 

In a national survey conducted in 2018, African-Americans are 20% less likely to participate in physical activities compared to non-Hispanic whites. Approximately 4 out of 5 African-American women are overweight or obese, which accounts for one of the highest rates of obesity when compared to other groups in the United States. 

Exercise can have a major impact on an individual’s physical and mental health. The influence caused by lack of exercise has undoubtedly been magnified during the imposed lockdown as a result of a global pandemic. Countless men and women who led active lifestyles pre-Covid-19, unfortunately, are not working out anymore as a byproduct of having their routines disrupted. Additionally, while on lockdown, many people are eating poorly. They are making unhealthy food selections due to cost and/or convenience, and in many instances are seeking comfort food at an alarming rate. Not to mention, the data indicates that while “cooped up” people are consuming more alcohol than normal. Consequently, people are gaining weight (adding fat, not muscle) and are further exposing themselves to greater health risks. 

Many minorities who come from disadvantaged communities struggled to stay both healthy and fit prior to the pandemic. A study found that adolescents with low socioeconomic status have less access to facilities for physical activity, such as parks or walking paths. In addition, poorer areas tend to have fewer markets and less natural food options; moreover, a greater number of fast-food restaurants. 

Several companies based in the United States have been dedicated to helping people achieve a greater level of health and wellness during the pandemic. 2FIT is an example of a Black-owned business striving to help people work toward living a fitness-oriented, sustainable, and healthy lifestyle. 2FIT Founder/CEO, Chris J. Tolbert, is a Master Personal Trainer from New York City. Since 2000, Chris has led hundreds of people toward the achievement of their health and fitness goals. 2FIT is a comprehensive system which provides custom program design, weekly workout schedules, daily accountability, monthly analysis calls, dietary guidance, and motivational content to keep clients focused and on track. The pillars of the 2FIT system are as follows: motivation, education, goal-setting, guidance, competition, accountability, and results. 

Wearable devices such as Fitbit and Apple Watch are effective technological tools that can provide valuable data and track activity metrics. This empirical data, such as daily step tallies and calories burned from Fitbit may be directly imported into the 2FIT app. Having technological solutions such as 2FIT and Fitbit can help an individual to better visualize and structure his/her overall exercise regimen and maintain a high level of accountability. The ability to maintain a consistent workout routine, using the aforementioned technologies, may result in a feeling of achievement during this particularly stressful time period. This can lead to greater self-esteem and enhance mental wellness, which can ultimately lead to combating issues like depression.

In comparison to other countries, the United States is currently ranked amongst the top 10 countries with the highest level of Covid-19 outbreaks alongside Brazil, South Africa, Iran, and Mexico. The current situation in America is especially shocking when compared to the respective conditions in other developed countries namely South Korea and China. It is imperative that Americans proactively take steps to protect their health and well-being by exercising consistently and maintaining a healthy diet.

Authors:

Mr. Earl Carr is a Vice President of International Research at Momentum Advisors, a New York-based SEC-registered international wealth management firm. Mr. Chris J. Tolbert (CJT) is the Founder/CEO of 2FIT, and a Master Personal Trainer from New York City. He is an MBA graduate from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Ms. Qiyuan (Grace) Miao is a graduate student at Columbia University School of Social Work.

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