Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal Is Surprisingly Good For You

A new paper suggests that it takes far less exercise than was previously thought to lower blood sugar after eating. Walking after a meal, conventional wisdom says, helps clear your mind and aids in digestion. Scientists have also found that going for a 15-minute walk after a meal can reduce blood sugar levels, which can help ward off complications such as Type 2 diabetes. But, as it turns out, even just a few minutes of walking can activate these benefits.

In a meta-analysis, recently published in the journal Sports Medicine, researchers looked at the results of seven studies that compared the effects of sitting versus standing or walking on measures of heart health, including insulin and blood sugar levels. They found that light walking after a meal, in increments of as little as two to five minutes, had a significant impact in moderating blood sugar levels.

“Each small thing you do will have benefits, even if it is a small step,” said Dr. Kershaw Patel, a preventive cardiologist at Houston Methodist Hospital who was not involved in the study.

In five of the studies that the paper evaluated, none of the participants had pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes. The remaining two studies looked at people with and without such illnesses. Participants were asked to either stand or walk for two to five minutes every 20 to 30 minutes over the course of a full day.

All seven studies showed that just a few minutes of light-intensity walking after a meal were enough to significantly improve blood sugar levels compared to, say, sitting at a desk or plopping down on the couch. When participants went for a short walk, their blood sugar levels rose and fell more gradually.

For people with diabetes, avoiding sharp fluctuations in blood sugar levels is a critical component in managing their illness. It’s also thought that sharp spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels can contribute to developing Type 2 diabetes.

Standing also helped lower blood sugar levels, although not to the degree that light walking did. “Standing did have a small benefit,” Aidan Buffey, a graduate student at the University of Limerick in Ireland and an author of the paper, said. Compared to sitting or standing, “light-intensity walking was a superior intervention,” he said.

That’s because light walking requires more active engagement of muscles than standing and uses the fuel from food at a time when there is a lot of it circulating in the bloodstream. “Your muscles will soak up some of that excess glucose,” said Jessie Inchauspé, author of the book “Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar.”

“You still had the same meal, but the impact on your body will be lessened,” she added.

Although light walking at any time is good for your health, a short walk within 60 to 90 minutes of eating a meal can be especially useful in minimizing blood sugar spikes, as that is when blood sugar levels tend to peak.

Ms. Inchauspé also recommended getting up to do housework or finding other ways to move your body. This short amount of activity will also enhance other dietary changes that people may be making to help control their blood sugar levels.

“Moving even a little bit is worthwhile and can lead to measurable changes, as these studies showed, in your health markers,” Dr. Euan Ashley, a cardiologist at Stanford University who was not associated with the study, said.

Mr. Buffey, whose research focuses on physical activity interventions in workplace environments, noted that a mini-walk of two to three minutes is more practical during the workday. People “are not going to get up and run on a treadmill or run around the office,” he said, but they could get some coffee or even go for a stroll down the hallway.

For people working from home, he suggested a short walk around the block between Zoom meetings or after lunch. The more we normalize mini-walks during the workday, Mr. Buffey said, the more feasible they will be. “If you are in a rigid environment, that’s when the difficulties may come.” If you cannot take those few minutes to take a walk, Dr. Ashley said, “standing will get you some of the way there.”

The benefits of physical activity are never all or nothing, Dr. Patel said, but instead exist on a continuum. “It’s a gradual effect of more activity, better health,” he said. “Each incremental step, each incremental stand or brisk walk appears to have a benefit.”

Source: Just 2 Minutes of Walking After a Meal Is Surprisingly Good for You – The New York Times

Critics By Sarah Garone

After a satisfying meal with family and friends, if a little voice inside tells you it’s time to head out for a stroll, you may want to listen. Not only is a walk after eating a pleasant way to enjoy social connection with others, it also offers surprising benefits for your health. From improved digestion to better blood sugar management, a lap around the block (or further) might just be the perfect finishing touch to a meal.

Read on for five reasons to take a walk after breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

May Improve Digestion

The internal nudge you may feel toward getting up and out after a meal might be coming from your gut. Research shows that post-meal movement can actually help you better digest your food.

In a 2014 meta-analysis of 20 studies, walking was associated with faster gastric emptying (the rate at which the body moves food through the stomach).

Though some people may experience indigestion from working up a sweat after eating, overall, physical activity appears to have a protective effect on colon cancer risks, and possibly some other diseases in the GI tract.3 More research is still needed.

May Help Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

People with diabetes or other blood sugar issues could especially benefit from stepping out after mealtimes. A post-meal walk may help steady your blood glucose.

In a small 2013 study, older adults with pre-diabetes experienced better glycemic control from walking after meals than from merely taking a morning walk.

Another study yielded equivalent results, finding that people with type 2 diabetes had better blood sugar measures when they walked after meals, compared to a single daily walk. The most dramatic improvements occurred when walking after dinner.5 Sounds like good reason to take a quick stroll before settling into more sedentary activities for the evening!

May Help Regulate Blood Pressure

You’ve probably heard that exercise is a helpful means of lowering blood pressure. What you may not have heard is that timing brief walks throughout the day (such as after meals) could offer even more results for hypertension than one longer bout of exercise.

According to a 2016 study, the accumulated effects of 10-minute bouts of physical activity significantly brought down diastolic blood pressure in people with pre-hypertension.

Mealtimes can serve as a convenient trigger for working in these shorter bouts of light exercise.

May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

As you work to bring down your blood pressure with after-meal walks, you’ll do your body the additional favor of lowering your risk of heart disease. People who keep their blood pressure within healthy limits have less incidence of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Since 47% of Americans have high blood pressure (and only one in four has it under control), we’d all do well to squeeze in a stroll after mealtimes.7

May Lessen Bloating

Whether you suffer with bloating as a result of occasional overeating, food sensitivities, or irritable bowel syndrome, a walk could be just the thing to tame a distended tummy.

As discussed above, research indicates that the more steps people with IBS get in a day, the less likely they may be to experience adverse symptoms, including bloating. And it’s not just people with IBS who could calm belly bloating with a walk around the block. A four-week study from 2021 found that when people with non-IBS-related bloating went for a 10-15 minute walk after meals, they reported relief.8

When bloating has you feeling uncomfortable after eating, consider a walk as quick, side effect-free treatment.

Related contents:

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16:20 Tue, 19 Jul
Walking club has so many benefits The Telegraph & Argus
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Why Has The Misleading Chemical Imbalance Theory of Mental Illness Persisted For So Long

Recently, one of my friends messaged frantically, asking if I had seen the big serotonin study that had been published by scientists at University College London. The study, an umbrella review critically evaluating pre-existing research, concluded that there was little support for the idea that depression was related to abnormally low levels of serotonin. As a philosopher of medicine and psychiatry, I had to confess that I had seen the study and was utterly unsurprised at the results.

It’s true that the authors of the study are controversial figures, vocal to sometimes vituperative critics of the mental health status quo, leaving heated debates in their wake with each new publication. But the authors’ conclusion has been an open secret within mental health circles for at least a decade. The very public dispelling of this “serotonin model” has also removed a key plank in the widely believed but oversimplified myth of mental illness being caused by a “chemical imbalance.” My friend was devastated.

The chemical imbalance myth has its roots in the late ’70s and ’80s when psychiatry was dominated by the desire to understand mental illness in primarily biological terms—as deviations in brain structure, neurochemistry, and genetics. When the first generation of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRI) antidepressants such as Prozac was introduced in the late ’70s, a key part of their marketing claimed that they targeted specific neurochemical imbalances.

Psychiatry is now interested in a wider range of factors contributing to mental illness—including genetics, gut microbiome, environmental influences, socioeconomic factors, and interpersonal stressors—and the marketing of psychiatric drugs is more tightly regulated.

However, as the authors of the new study point out, this initial starting point has already crept into everything from public health messaging to popular websites. For instance, though the American Psychological Association takes no stance on the serotonin model when describing SSRIs, Australia’s Department of Health, describes antidepressants in terms of the chemical imbalance model.

In the past year, 8.3 million people in the U.K. (about 12 percent of the population) took antidepressants. The most recent figures from the United States, collected between April and May by the National Center for Health Statistics, show that approximately 23 percent of adults took prescription medication for their mental health.

The vast majority of these prescriptions, including the one taken by my friend, are for SSRIs. And it’s no surprise that many people who have been prescribed an SSRI believe that they work by increasing the availability of serotonin, thereby correcting the abnormally low levels of serotonin responsible for her depression. Finding out that this story of how SSRIs work was unsubstantiated made her question whether she should be taking them in the first place.

This is a common reaction. As I write this, my social media channels are full of patients who say they now want to stop taking SSRIs. The response by concerned mental health professionals and skeptical commentators has been twofold: First, they are poking holes in the study—usually an important part of scientific method. But in this case I suspect it is sort of pointless, given that many experts already thought the serotonin model to be a nonstarter, and this is a review of existing work rather than new research. Second, they are correctly noting that though we are unsure how SSRIs and other psychiatric drugs work, we have reason to believe that they do—an important distinction.

Medical treatments, including psychiatric drugs, are primarily tested for efficacy, usually via randomized controlled trials rather than more primary research into how or why they work. In many ways, this makes sense: When there is a problem, especially with one’s health, the priority is fixing the problem rather than working out why this particular fix works. Indeed, there are many common medicines and treatments where we are not entirely sure how they work, despite being fairly certain that they do—including acetaminophen (or, as we call it in the U.K., paracetamol).

There are many people who swear SSRIs have improved their lives, and pooled reviews and meta-analyses point toward their efficacy. Based on such reviews,  they are recommended treatments for depression (and a host of other mental illnesses) via the U.K.’s National Health Service and the American Psychological Association. On the other side, critics point to a number of deep issues with this research such as the failure to publish negative results, the fact that trials tend to be funded by pharmaceutical companies, and the exclusion of severely depressed patients from the trials.

And then there is the perennial problem of taking experimental results about a broader population or group and applying them to a particular individual. I am inclined to think the debate over the efficacy has distracted from the main point of the study—in the case of mental health, how and whether something works both matter.

In many ways my friend and I are very similar: prone to severe depression, from the same ethnic background, of similar ages, both philosophers. We have both spent the vast majority of our adult lives in precarious environments that incentivized a certain kind of relentless pursuit of achievements. But unlike my friend, I made the choice, not just once but at many critical junctures in my life, not to take antidepressants. Because I knew that depression doesn’t necessarily come from a chemical imbalance, I knew that SSRIs would hardly be a silver bullet or the only thing that would help.

I also thought about what side effects they would have. One of the primary reasons I avoided antidepressants is because a common side effect of SSRIs is disruption to sleep. My mood is very responsive to sleep, and I worried that I would just be creating a whole new set of problems for myself; a number of people end up with prescriptions for both sleeping pills and SSRIs. The possibility of sleep disruptions, the fact that my mood was very responsive to other interventions, and other potential side-effects led me to my decision.

I do not think there is a correct answer to the question of whether any particular individual should take SSRIs. I can imagine someone in my shoes whose symptoms were more severe and had tried other options making a different decision. But the persistence of the chemical myth of depression obfuscates this kind of decision-making. Though mental health professionals and academic researchers understand the distinction between whether and how a treatment works, these two things come hand in hand for patients, and it has been disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

One of the main reasons my friend was so upset about the serotonin study was because she was now left with a great many questions. If she wasn’t depressed because of serotonin levels, how was she to understand her propensity to depression? Was something else wrong with brain? Her genetics? Most heartbreakingly, she wondered whether it was that she was simply weak. The serotonin model of depression had not only played a part in her decision to take antidepressants; it shaped how she thought about herself.

I have spent a great many years biting my tongue when friends or acquaintances described their depression in terms of chemical imbalances. I hesitated in part because I was fearful of affecting their treatment, something I did not feel professionally qualified to weigh in on. But my biggest fear was intruding on the way in which they understood themselves and their lives.

Because I have seen myself and my tendency toward depression in different terms, the results of the study have not disrupted my understanding of myself. Though I have sometimes wondered why I seem more inclined to low mood than other people and idly wonder whether it some variation in my particular neurochemistry or genetics, for the most part, when I am going through a depressive period, I recognize its relationship to something that is happening in my life which needs resolving or the fact that I work in a particularly demanding field.

I am not suggesting that SSRIs prevent people from considering what might underlie their depression, or that in all cases depression is situational. But when such a compelling story is put forward by authoritative sources, one that explains so tidily why someone feels the way they do and what can be done about it, people tend not to look elsewhere for explanations or solutions. Just as the chemical imbalance myth has clouded making choices about treatment, it has altered how people understand themselves and their lives.

It is a platitude to say that different treatments work for different people, but I find it interesting that both me and my friend have ended up in similar contented places. One of the reasons the study has been so painful for so many people is the sheer variety of experiences. Those who, like me, have refrained from taking SSRIs feel faintly resentful for the many years that they have been made to feel irrational about their choice.

More tragic are the people like my friend who are now questioning their choices and their understanding of themselves. More tragic still are those patients who had an adverse reaction to SSRIs and have spent many years trying to make the psychiatric establishment acknowledge the myth and the way in which it has hidden the trade-offs associated with SSRIs and other psychiatric drugs. Then there are the many patients for whom SSRIs have been beneficial and continue to advocate for their use in the fear that others will miss out on life changing treatment.

On the other side of the fence, I have colleagues I trust and respect with a wide spectrum of views. What is striking is that once you put the bruised egos and the usual financial vested interests aside, the debates, vicious as they are, seem mostly conducted in utter good faith. Both sides convinced that the other is not only mistaken but in danger of harming vulnerable patients either by peddling dangerous, ill-evidenced treatments or through vilifying treatments that many had found helpful. Though it has been upsetting, I cannot help but find it moving that for most parties involved, the priority is the patient and their well-being.

State of Mind is a partnership of Slate and Arizona State University that offers a practical look at our mental health system—and how to make it better.

By Sahanika Ratnayake

Source: Why has the misleading chemical imbalance theory of mental illness persisted for so long?

Related contents:

Watsonville Event Brings Mental Health Resources to Youth Good Times Santa Cruz

There’s a new focus on tech-based mental health treatments for young people Fox News

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BA.5 Is Driving A Wave Of Covid Infections, But Not Deaths Here’s Why Experts Say We Should Still Be Cautious

The evasive BA.5 omicron variant is driving up Covid cases and hospitalizations as it spreads rapidly across the United States—but despite deaths remaining lower compared to earlier waves, experts tell Forbes there are still plenty of reasons to remain cautious and warn Americans against letting their guard down too soon.

While Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have been on the rise in most states in recent weeks and jumped 20% nationwide over the past fortnight, deaths have risen only modestly and have hovered around 300-400 a day since April. Driving the new wave is BA.5, an omicron offshoot that has a “superpower to cause reinfection” and can evade immunity from vaccination and previous infection, even from other omicron variants, Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at the University of California, San Francisco, told Forbes.

The disconnect reflects the fact that vaccines and past infections still provide strong protection against serious illness and death for BA.5 as well as there being more options available to treat early disease like Pfizer’s Paxlovid. Chin-Hong said there are still plenty of reasons to avoid infection, not least because Covid can still cause severe symptoms “even if you don’t end up in the hospital” and symptoms can “last for weeks.”

Infection also carries the risk of “long Covid”—lingering and sometimes debilitating symptoms that can persist for months or years—and early evidence suggests this is more likely the more times you get infected. Avoiding infection also helps safeguard people around you who may have less protection against serious disease like children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems, Dr. Stuart Turville, a virologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told Forbes.

Increasingly transmissible variants of omicron have surged across the U.S. this year. BA.5, the most infectious form of the virus yet, rapidly spread and became the dominant variant in early July. It now accounts for an estimated 78% of cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and community transmission has spiked. Concerns over BA.5, as well as the related BA.4, prompted officials to direct vaccine makers to target the variants in updated shots and the Biden Administration announced new plans to tackle its spread.

Officials and experts say it is especially important to ensure strong protection against serious disease by keeping up-to-date on vaccinations, including booster shots. Despite the appeals of public health officials and being available for many months, booster uptake in the U.S. is poor. Fewer than half of fully vaccinated people have received their first booster dose and fewer than 30% of those who have and are eligible for a second have taken up the offer, according to CDC data.

More variants. It is inevitable that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, will evolve and spawn new variants over time. Another omicron offshoot, BA.2.75—inexplicably and successfully dubbed “Centaurus” by the internet—has already caught the eye of virologists. The variant is spreading rapidly in India, has been detected across Europe and North America and shows signs of evading immunity.

Little data is available and it’s not clear whether BA.2.75 causes more severe disease. It’s also not clear whether it would be able to take over from BA.5 “as the ruler of the roost,” Chin-Hong explained, as they haven’t had a chance to directly compete with each other as yet.”

A great deal. Data collection and surveillance is poor compared to earlier on in the pandemic. Individual testing is down, genomic surveillance is reduced and evidence suggests cases could be vastly higher than official figures state. Conversely, hospital figures are inflated and reflect routine testing upon admission, which catches many “incidental” infections from people seeking care for other problems.

There is a lot to be understood about the newer omicron variants as well, experts say. BA.5, as well as other more recent omicron offshoots like BA.4 and BA.2.75, are relatively new pathogens that are infecting or reinfecting large numbers of people in the community, Turville explained, which makes it hard to provide absolute and definitive answers. “As with most things with SARS CoV-2, it is a large bag of unknowns,” he added.

Turville told Forbes the decoupling of deaths from cases shows the longer term effects of vaccination and exposure to the virus. It’s a “maturing immunity to SARS-CoV-2 in general” which has taken off the “edge of disease severity,” he added.

While cases are growing—and likely undercounted—it’s worth noting that they are a long way from the earlier omicron peak in January. In July, there were around 100,000-120,000 cases reported on average compared to more than 800,000 in mid January.

I am a senior reporter for the Forbes breaking news team, covering health and science from the London office. Previously I worked as a reporter for a trade publication

Source: BA.5 Is Driving A Wave Of Covid Infections, But Not Deaths—Here’s Why Experts Say We Should Still Be Cautious

Critics by

So far there is no evidence that this variant causes more serious illness. And infectious disease experts say that even though new infections are on the rise, the impact of BA.5 is unlikely to be on the scale of the surge we saw last winter — in part because the country is better equipped to manage it.

The U.S. is averaging about 300 deaths a day, compared to 3,000 last winter. Dr. Anna Durbin, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says the combination of prior infections and vaccinations is still protective, and COVID-19 treatments are better.

“Most people have some underlying immunity that is helpful in fighting the virus,” she explains. “We have antivirals … And I think that because of that … we’re not seeing a rise in deaths. And that’s very reassuring. It tells me that even this virus, even BA.5, is not so divergent that it is escaping all arms of the immune system.”

She adds that new booster shots specifically targeting omicron — which could roll out as soon as this fall — should also be helpful in preventing serious illness and deaths.

There are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to the virus, like masking up in crowded indoor spaces. Here’s how to step up your mask game.

Plus, children under the age of 5 are finally eligible to get vaccinated (and while many parents are hesitant, public health experts are encouraging them not to wait any longer). And adults ages 50 and older, as well as those over 12 with certain underlying conditions, can get a second booster shot.

And, if you already have plans to travel or attend gatherings this summer, check out these tips for protecting yourself outdoors, improving indoor airflow and what to do if you get sick while on vacation.

Related contents:

BA.5 variant now makes up 78% of active Covid-19 cases in the US Mail Online

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Planning on Going Back To The Office, Hitting The Gym or Attending a Wedding? A Guide To Staying COVID Safe

Dr. Anthony Fauci declared last month that the U.S. is transitioning “out of the pandemic phase,” following mask mandates lifting across the country. However, that doesn’t mean COVID-19 is behind us. Surges continue in different parts of the U.S., while an estimated 300 people die every day because of the virus.

So it’s understandable that some people — at least the ones who have been trying to protect themselves and others from the highly-contagious virus for the past two years — are feeling a bit confused about what exactly they should be doing at this stage of the pandemic to stay healthy and safe.

Dr. Joseph Khabbaza, a critical care medicine specialist and pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells Yahoo Life, “A lot of people have been given a sense that this is probably over for most of us. The answer isn’t going to be the same for every two people.”

Khabbaza says that’s because every person has to assess their own individual risk factors when it comes to getting COVID. Dr. Prathit Kulkarni, an assistant professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine, agrees, telling Yahoo Life: “Safety precautions at this stage in the pandemic are related to one’s personal risk of having a bad outcome from COVID-19, vaccination status and one’s personal risk tolerance. All situations are slightly unique and require an individual and situational risk assessment.”

With the exception of people who are immunocompromised or elderly, though, “if you’re fully vaccinated and up-to-date on boosters, your personal odds of getting severe illness are very low, even if you come across the virus,” says Khabbaza. “Whereas for people who have not been vaccinated they may not factor in that they are at high risk for severe illness. But that’s something some people have chosen.”

How can you protect yourself in general?

In a nutshell, getting vaccinated and boosted if eligible is still the right call — especially if you’re more vulnerable to severe illness from COVID — and offers “the best protection,” says Kulkarni.

He adds: “Folks who are at higher risk for a worse outcome from COVID-19 may wish to enhance their protection from contracting COVID-19. The best way to do this is with a well-fitting mask. N95 respirator-type masks afford the greatest individual protection.”

Kulkarni says that “the folks who are potentially at the highest risk at this point in the pandemic include unvaccinated individuals, especially older persons, folks who are at higher risk but have not yet been boosted such as older persons or people living in nursing homes and people with significant immunocompromising conditions.”

Both Kulkarni and Khabbaza say it’s also important to know what the COVID rates are in your area or where you’re traveling to. “Following CDC’s tracker of COVID activity around the country can also be helpful to get a gauge for how things are going in a particular geographic area,” says Kulkarni.

Planning on going back to the office, hitting the gym or attending a wedding? Keep these precautions in mind to stay COVID safe and healthy.

Flying on a plane

With multiple U.S. domestic airlines including Delta, American and United dropping mask requirements on flights, you may be wondering how to stay safe while traveling on packed planes. The CDC states that it continues to recommend that people wear masks in indoor public transportation settings at this time. But depending on your own personal risk factors and risk tolerance, while at the airport, “if you’re able to space apart from people and avoid close sustained contact, then a mask is not going to be needed,” says Khabbaza. But when you’re in prolonged close proximity to others, it’s a good idea to mask up.

For example, Khabbaza shares that he doesn’t wear a mask while walking around the airport because he’s in motion and able to distance himself from others. However, he puts on a mask while in the security line “because of close contact.” He then takes it off walking to the gate and while sitting at the gate “because I’m away from other people.” Once on the plane, Khabbaza puts his mask back on. “Ventilation in airplanes seems to be good, but to me, it’s easy enough to minimize my risk in a setting with others by wearing a mask,” he says. “That’s where you’ll get more value for masking.”

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, told CNN that wearing a mask in the highest-risk settings while traveling is key. “That includes during boarding and deplaning when the ventilation systems on airplanes are often not running,” she says. “Don’t drink or eat at those times.”

Although airlines often hand out sanitizing wipes as you board, Khabbaza explains that, from a COVID transmission standpoint, “I don’t think that would have much of a barrier.” That’s because “contact with surfaces is not as big of a mode of transmission as initially thought, if at all,” he says. That said, it doesn’t hurt to wipe down the seat and tray table for hygiene’s sake.

Kulkarni agrees, saying, “In general, wiping down surfaces via routine cleaning can be generally helpful for avoidance of transmission of several different infectious organisms.”

Eating at a restaurant

In general, it’s safer to dine outdoors when feasible. “Similar to the initial stages of the pandemic, outdoor transmission of COVID is very limited compared to indoor transmission,” points out Kulkarni.

Khabbaza says to keep in mind that “if you are choosing to dine in a restaurant, most of your risk is when you’re sitting down and eating, which is much of the time.” Putting on a mask while walking for “a few seconds to your seat” or wearing one on the way to the restroom may not change the fact that there’s a “slightly higher risk of indoor dining right now,” he says. “Theoretically, it could lower it a little bit, but you’re drinking, eating, talking and laughing when seated and not moving around — that’s where the risks are.”

Khabbaza says the safest way to dine indoors is by choosing restaurants with big open windows to further lower the risk of transmission or going to restaurants during off-hours “when they’re not full.”

Working in an office

If you’re alone in your own office or in a private cubicle, a mask likely isn’t needed. “It will be hard to transmit if far away from others and there’s a barrier with cubicles,” Khabbaza says.

But he stresses that it’s important to know your company’s policy on vaccinations and whether employees need to show proof of vaccination to better assess the risk. “If vaccination is mandatory that certainly makes things a lot safer,” Khabbaza says. “But if you’re in close sustained contact all day at work, masking is probably not a bad idea, especially in times of high cases.”

Wearing a mask can also help put co-workers and employers who are more vulnerable at ease. “If you’re working with people you know are immunocompromised or elderly, it’s OK to try to protect them with masking,” he says.

Along with distancing and good ventilation, Wen told CNN that “testing that’s done at least once a week can help catch early, asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and serve as an additional layer of protection.”

Visiting a public pool

The good news is that the virus doesn’t transmit through water, per the World Health Organization. There’s also the protective benefit of being outdoors while at a public pool. However, Khabbaza points out that “close sustained contact with someone in a pool might have some of that risk.”

If the pool isn’t crowded, it’s easy to avoid people and space apart. “But if it’s a crowded pool party, there’s a risk and masks aren’t feasible,” he says.

When going indoors, such as to the locker room, it’s a good idea to put on a mask if there are several people close by. The CDC recommends bringing extra masks and storing them in a plastic bag in case one gets wet.

Going to the supermarket

In general, supermarkets are “lower risk from a COVID standpoint because you’re not really in close sustained contact — a lot of it is walking by people,” says Khabbaza, “and you can space out in a line at the cashier.”

But if you’re concerned or immunocompromised, he says, “just wear the mask, and then you have a barrier over your nose and mouth.”

Working out at the gym

The size, crowd and ventilation matter when it comes to gyms. Small boutique gyms that rely on fans to circulate the air are going to be “a little [riskier] if crowded because there’s not much ventilation,” says Khabbaza. “In the really big gyms, spacing can be done” so you can distance yourself from others. Large gyms are also more likely to have an HVAC system for better air filtration.

“If you can space out, it’s going to be relatively safer compared to smaller gyms where spacing isn’t much of an option,” says Khabbaza.

While wiping down gym equipment isn’t essential from a COVID transmission standpoint — “it would be very hard to get it, especially if you’re not touching your face,” Khabbaza says — it’s a standard recommendation to do so before and after using gym equipment in general.

Attending an indoor party or wedding

If you’re at a high risk of severe illness, “it might be reasonable to avoid weddings at times of [COVID] surges,” says Khabbaza, who recommends wearing a well-fitting N95 mask at group events, particularly if you’re more vulnerable. “If you’re anxious about the possibility of getting it, weddings may not be best for you during times of surges.”

That said, most weddings take place at “big venues where you can space out a bit,” he says. “If you’re spaced out and in a mask, you should be very good about minimizing your risk.” But Khabbaza says that the best protection is being up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, which makes the odds of severe illness “extremely low, assuming you have a normal immune system,” he says.

You can also go one step further to assess the risk of attending a larger social gathering: Dr. Preeti Malani, chief health officer at the Division of Infectious Diseases and Geriatric Medicine at the University of Michigan, told NPR that before a big event, “ask if people must be vaccinated and/or tested to attend and if they have to show proof or are on the honor system.”

Staying at a hotel

While you don’t need to wear a mask when you’re in your own hotel room, you might want to put one on while riding the elevator if it’s crowded or if you’re staying at a big hotel with longer elevator rides that stop at multiple floors. “A short elevator ride will be on the lower end [of the risk spectrum], but not impossible,” says Khabbaza. “But transmissibility becomes higher when in close contact.”

A 2021 study found that in elevators without proper ventilation, an infected person coughing can transmit viral particles “all across the elevator enclosure.”

Another option to stay safe: If you don’t want to mask, wait for the next empty — or mostly empty — elevator if it’s feasible, or take the stairs, suggests Khabbaza.

By:

Source: Planning on going back to the office, hitting the gym or attending a wedding? A guide to staying COVID safe now.

Further reading:

Monkeypox: Doctors warn of ‘massive impact’ on sexual health services as staff self-isolate (Yahoo) | https://uk.news.yahoo.com/monkeypox-d…

Monkeypox outbreak linked to superspreader event at adult sauna (Yahoo) | https://news.yahoo.com/monkeypox-outb…

MISCExplainer: What to Know About Monkeypox (Visual Capitalist) | https://www.visualcapitalist.com/expl…

Human monkeypox: an emerging zoonosis (Lancet) | https://www.thelancet.com/journals/la…

First monkeypox genome from latest outbreak shows links to 2018 strain (NewScientist) | https://www.newscientist.com/article/…

Monkeypox virus evades antiviral CD4+ and CD8+ T cell responses by suppressing cognate T cell activation (PNAS) | https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas…

FDA approves first live, non-replicating vaccine to prevent smallpox and monkeypox (FDA) | https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press… Nov 3, 2021

ACIP Meeting – Orthopoxviruses Vaccines (CDC) | https://youtu.be/4SCUOppgtxE Israel reports first case of monkeypox, suspects others (ABC) | https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireSto…

New York officials investigate case of suspected monkeypox (Miami Herald) | https://www.miamiherald.com/latest-ne…

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What We Know About Long COVID So Far

While the World Health Organization says long COVID starts three months after the original bout of illness or positive test result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets the timeline at just after one month.

Among the many confounding aspects of the coronavirus is the spectrum of possible symptoms, as well as their severity and duration. Some people develop mild illness and recover quickly, with no lasting effects. But studies estimate that 10% to 30% of people report persistent or new medical issues months after their initial coronavirus infections — a constellation of symptoms known as long COVID.

People who experience mild or moderate illness, as well as those without any underlying medical conditions, can nonetheless experience some debilitating long-term symptoms, including fatigue, shortness of breath, an erratic heart rate, headaches, dizziness, depression and problems with memory and concentration.

Such lingering medical issues are so varied that one study by a patient-led research group evaluated 203 symptoms that may fluctuate or even appear out of the blue after people seem to have recovered.

As Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, the chief of research and development at the VA St. Louis Healthcare System and a clinical public health researcher at Washington University in St. Louis, said, “If you’ve seen one patient with long COVID, you’ve seen one patient with long COVID.”

How doctors currently diagnose long COVID

There is little consensus on the exact definition of long COVID, also known by the medical term PASC, or post-acute sequelae of COVID-19. While the World Health Organization says long COVID starts three months after the original bout of illness or positive test result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sets the timeline at just after one month.

Some researchers and health care providers use other time frames, making efforts to study and quantify the condition more difficult, said Al-Aly, who has conducted many studies on long-term post-COVID issues.

When patients experiencing persistent symptoms go to their doctors, tests like electrocardiograms, chest X-rays, CT scans and blood work don’t always identify physiological problems, Al-Aly said. Researchers are working to pinpoint certain biological factors, called biomarkers, that correlate with persistent COVID symptoms. These could include signs of inflammation or certain molecules produced by the immune system that might be measured by blood tests, for example.

Long COVID is defined as symptoms that cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis and last at least two months following an initial COVID-19 infection. It is usually after three months (12 weeks) of persistent symptoms when a patient is suspected of having long COVID.

Long COVID can affect anyone of any age, including children and adolescents. Even if you had mild or no symptoms when you were first infected, you can be impacted by long COVID.

For some, long COVID symptoms can be more severe than the acute COVID-19 infection itself. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms can persist from the initial illness or begin after recovery, and they may come and go or improve over time.

Long COVID can interfere with a person’s ability to perform normal, everyday activities, like work and household chores. With children, it can affect their ability to do their schoolwork. While it cannot be predicted how long a given patient may experience long COVID, some research has shown that patients can get better over time.

Long COVID Symptoms

Long COVID symptoms are different from acute COVID symptoms. Conditions can include, but are not limited to:

  • Persistent cough
  • Loss of (or changes in) taste and smell
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Sleeping problems
  • Lightheadedness
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Poor appetite

How Does Long COVID Affect Children?

Some common symptoms seen in children include fatigue, headache, trouble sleeping and concentrating, muscle and joint pain, and cough. As with other medical conditions, young children may have trouble describing the problems they are experiencing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), information on long COVID in children and adolescents is limited, so it is possible other symptoms may be likely in younger age groups.

If your child is suffering from long COVID and is unable to complete their normal school assignments, it might be best to ask school administrators about accommodations such as extra time to complete tests and assignments, rest periods throughout the school day and modified class schedules, says the CDC.

What Causes Long COVID?

It is unknown why people experience long COVID. The cause is still an active area of research. Some experts believe the cause is potentially due to the body’s hyper-inflammatory immune response to a new germ.

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Source: What We Know About Long COVID So Far

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