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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Staying home and isolating ourselves has becomes the new normal in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While working at home has its advantages, there are also disadvantages, like access to food whenever we want.

Experts with the Oklahoma Medical Research foundation say there are important steps we can take to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the pandemic.

Stick to a schedule 

The lack of a set daily routine can be disruptive. Resist the urge to stay up late and sleep in, as it disrupts your body’s circadian rhythms, said OMRF immunologist Eliza Chakravarty, M.D.

“Sleep deprivation also causes stress hormones like cortisol to rise, signaling the body to go into fat-storage mode by slowing your metabolism,” said Chakravarty. “And when you’re sleepy, you eat more, which can put you on a slippery slope.”

Get moving 

Research shows that even 30 minutes of moderate exercise lowers blood pressure, strengthens bones, improves mood and helps maintain muscle mass, said OMRF researcher Holly Van Remmen, Ph.D.

“Getting outdoors when the sun is shining boosts your physical and mental wellbeing,” said Van Remmen. “Do some gardening, mow the lawn, go on a long walk—whatever gets you off the couch.

Say no to junk food

“Resist the temptation to graze all day long out of boredom,” said Chakravarty. “If you snack, have healthy options on hand like veggies and hummus, fruit or nuts.”

It’s no secret that obesity has a severe negative impact on health in a variety of ways. And that can be compounded by coronavirus, which appears to take a severe toll on people suffering from obesity-related conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

Stay connected 

Sunshine and fresh air can work wonders for your mood, but so can maintaining contact with friends and family—from a distance.

“Pick up the phone, send emails or write letters to stay in touch,” said OMRF President Stephen Prescott, M.D. “Even though we’re not together physically, we don’t have to be alone.”

Take a news break, but remember it’s important to stay informed

“There’s a difference between staying informed and dwelling on never-ending commentary and speculation,” Chakravarty said. “Instead, go sew, paint, learn a hobby or rediscover an old one. Be creative.”

We don’t know when this pandemic will end, said Chakravarty. “But how you come out when it’s over depends a lot on the decisions you make now.”