AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Gyms have been seeing a decrease in the number of people joining and continuing their workouts since the pandemic started, causing other perceived health risks for people during this time.
“Obesity decreases your lung capacity and decreases your reserve, your ability to breathe. That makes ventilation more difficult... It makes you more at risk for disease processes in general. But specifically, for COVID because COVID is kind of where the inflammatory system goes crazy. So, if you have an underlying health condition that is pro-inflammatory, it’s going to put you at greater risk,” said Dr. Evelyn Sbar, M.D., FAAFP, Texas Tech Physicians Family Medicine Physician.
“I think COVID has definitely given people the excuse to be lazy. But if you look at statistics, obesity is one of the leading causes of getting COVID. So, we recommend everybody to do some type of training or working out for sure. It’ll improve their health and you’ll have less likelihood of getting COVID,” said Kevin Van Voris, owner of Contagion Athletics gym in Amarillo.
Gyms in the area have found people dedicated to the gym have been consistent throughout the pandemic, but others not so much.
“The people who kind of are your, kind of gym goers, that kind of go here for there, those are the ones who kind of stay at home... it doesn’t take much, couple times a week, 30 minutes a day. You could cut your chances of all those diseases at least by half, if not more," said Van Voris.
“I think again a lot of people are fearful or don’t feel that they have the equipment to work out at home. There has been a lot of misinformation about whether or not it was safe to be outside or not be outside. And so, a lot of people I think have stayed inside,” said Dr. Sbar.
Food insecurities, fear of working out at facilities and lack of income have played a role in unhealthy lifestyles during the pandemic.
“We know in general that Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adults have a higher prevalence of obesity. And that means their more likely to suffer worse outcomes from COVID,” said Dr. Sbar.
When Houston had its last round of COVID spikes, a study found obesity is the number 1 risk factor for developing severe illnesses under the age of 55.
“Any underlying health concern is a risk. Whether it would be hypertension, diabetes, if you have an autoimmune disorder, all of these put you at greater risk,” said Dr. Sbar.
Gyms stress staying in shape during the pandemic in order to combat other health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.
“Or even if you get COVID, the chances of you surviving it go way up, just by being in shape,” said Van Voris.
Gyms and exercise facilities across Texas are open following COVID-19 guidelines.
Eating healthy, getting extra sleep and being active can lower health risks related to obesity.