The COVID pandemic has virtually shut down our world.  About 75% of Americans are sheltered at home for an unknown amount of time, many of us battling anxiety and financial stress.

With the days blending into each other, high anxiety, and limited opportunity to go outdoors, it’s easy to neglect your health. Unfortunately, obesity is increasingly being identified as a risk factor for hospital admission from Coronavirus complications. While the temptation to lounge around and eat is high, the reality is that it’s even more important to stay active and fit.

The good news is that there are things you can do to stay in shape, even while shut-in. Keeping a regular sleep schedule, eating well-balanced meals, and exercising are all important factors in maintaining a healthy weight.

Did you know that the air you breathe can also play a major role in your weight?

A recent study, published in the journal Environmental Health, followed 2,318 children in Southern California and found that traffic pollution was a major risk factor for the development of obesity in children. Another study, done in smoggy Beijing, found that rats exposed to low-quality air gain more weight than their peers.

So, what does this mean for urban dwellers locked up in their homes? While traffic has decreased, most factories are still open, pumping toxins into the air. Many people in particularly dense urban areas are not even able to take advantage of the city’s green spaces. That means that the best thing we can do right now is to make sure our indoor air quality is as high as possible.

How can we keep indoor air clean?

Reduce indoor pollutants

More time at home means more pollutants. Household activities such as cooking and cleaning produce gases and tiny particles that can pollute indoor air. In fact, indoor air can be as much as five times more polluted than outdoor air.  Fortunately, there are some things you can do to limit indoor pollutants.  Look for unscented products, vent your cooking range, and ban all indoor smoking.

Provide good ventilation by opening windows

Whenever possible, keep the windows open. Letting in fresh air keeps living areas better ventilated, and the air cleaner. This may be especially important in rooms with electronic gadgets, as the heat they generate reacts with adhesives and plastics inside the product and can release toxic chemicals.

Remove carpets, drapes, and anything else with a fuzzy surface

Fuzzy surfaces can hold on to dust and other pollutants. If you must keep carpets, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and vacuum daily. It can also be helpful to vacuum mattresses every two weeks, use allergy-proof mattress covers and wash bedding in hot water regularly.

Air out new foam pillows, mattresses or upholstered furniture

New furniture and bedding can emit a lot of toxins into your indoor space.  Whenever possible, keep them separate from high traffic areas of your home in an outdoor or well-ventilated area for as long as the manufacturer recommends.