Summer is officially here and while some areas are lifting lockdowns and businesses are slowly reopening, COVID-19 is far from over. Many states are seeing a rise in the number of infections. But whether that translates to more seriously ill people is yet to be determined. Regardless, it’s a critical reminder that it’s more important than ever to focus on our health. While we’re trying to dodge the major health risk right in front of us – Coronavirus – we also can’t be complacent and allow other health problems to sneak up on us.
Here are 5 essential things we must do to stay healthy while transitioning into the next phase of reopening:
- Wear a mask:
At this point, the data seems fairly clear: wearing a mask when in public, particularly in more densely populated areas, helps prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19. Some states legally require people to wear masks when in public, and even if they don’t, it’s still a good idea to keep your mask on anyway. While wearing a mask is strongly encouraged, if not mandated, the surgical or N95 masks are not necessary to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. A cloth mask that is hand or machine washable (so you can safely reuse) will do the trick. Just be sure to cover your mouth and nose at all times when out in public, and follow proper tips to keep your mask clean.
- Wash your hands:
This should already be a staple in how to remain healthy, but COVID-19 really brought to the forefront how important this is. Having dirty hands, then touching your face or eating, gives germs easy access to your body and can cause infection. Using hand sanitizers or good, old fashioned soap and water to stay clean is a powerful weapon in the fight to stay healthy.
- Have a plan:
Take a few minutes to assess your health and risk factors and call your doctor if you have questions about your health risks. If you are older than 65 and have diabetes or other chronic medical conditions, it is likely best to err on the side of caution and continue to be stricter in your social distancing. If you are younger and otherwise healthy, it is less likely that you will contract COVID-19 and experience serious illness, but it is still very important to maintain social distancing. Also, evaluate the places you wish to go. Outdoor seating at your favorite restaurant is potentially a better environment to avoid COVID-19 and other viruses compared to a movie theater with poor air circulation in an enclosed environment. Planning ahead can save stress and potential hiccups down the road.
- Exercise is essential:
Now that we’ve reached summer, get outside, get that free vitamin D, and get moving! Routine exercise is probably the best thing you can do on a consistent basis to stay healthy. Doing a balanced mix of endurance training and resistance exercise helps fight heart disease, can reduce pain, and boosts your immune system. Even if your daily exercise is less intense with just a quick walk, anything you can do to get your body moving is beneficial to your health.
- Eat well and stay hydrated:
Eat the rainbow! Gone are the days of the ancient food pyramid where eating a metric ton of bread was the basis for good health. We now understand that good nutrition is built on eating a variety of different foods. Focus on incorporating fruits and vegetables into each meal, along with lean proteins and healthy fats, which are equally important. Choose foods that are organic or minimally processed and try to stay away from fast food, which tends to be overly processed and unhealthy. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to remain properly hydrated. Adequate hydration helps with mental focus, physical performance, and keeps your immune system in tip-top shape.
Try to develop a new routine to maintain healthy habits. We don’t know how much longer COVID-19 will be such a major part of our lives, but we do know we can keep ourselves safe, healthy, and active by following the suggestions above. Always remember your mask when heading out for the day, and carry a bottle of water with you to stay hydrated in the summer heat. Keeping these tips in mind can help you get back into the world safely and start enjoying the new normal of summer activities during COVID-19.