More than half of Californians say lockdown inspired them to make healthier life choices, study reveals

Freezer pizza or mac ‘n cheese? Before lockdown, it was an easy task to go to the grocery store on your way home from a busy day and pick up a quick convenience meal for dinner. With the fast-paced frantic lifestyle we face in the outside world under usual circumstances, being in lockdown means many Americans have been able to take a well-deserved break and put their health first. While there is no doubt about the harsh disruption the pandemic has caused to our daily lives, it has certainly granted many the chance to improve unhealthy habits they may have fallen into over the years.

Rehabs.com, a provider of rehabilitation resources and treatment information, conducted a study of 3,000 Americans to find out if they have adopted healthier choices during lockdown. Overall, more than half of Californians (59 percent) said lockdown has inspired them to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking, exercising more and drinking less alcohol. This is compared to the national average of 54 percent.

Broken down across the nation, it appears North Dakotans were the most motivated to change their ways during this time – 77 percent of residents here said the lockdown inspired them to make healthier life choices.

By comparison, Alaskans seem to have taken lockdown a little harder with just 33 percent said they have made positive lifestyle changes over the last few months. Known for their love of outdoor activities, perhaps this is unsurprising as their healthy lifestyles are likely at a higher level anyway!

Of course, most people have a specific lifestyle concern they have always wanted to address. Of those surveyed, 56 percent said they have started eating healthier since it began. This was followed by 35 percent of respondents taking up more exercise and 7 percent quitting drinking and smoking.

In fact, it seems Americans are either running low on liquor or the thrill of drinking has worn off, as more than one in five people (22 percent) said their alcohol consumption has decreased the longer lockdown has continued. Broken down by gender, 36 percent of men said this is the case, as compared to 10 percent of women.

When visits to the outside world are limited, regular trips to the grocery store or nearest takeout are not so easy. This means fewer processed convenience foods – such as microwave meals and freezer pizzas – and more home-cooked, wholesome dinners. This is possibly why a significant 43 percent of respondents admit their diet has improved since the start of lockdown.

Moreover, because there is no need for an afternoon commute when working from home, it helps to have some extra time in the evenings to prepare a healthy meal. Cooking for yourself and/or your family can get repetitive if you are doing it every single day, multiple times per day. However, many people appear to have embraced this opportunity to fine-tune their skills in the kitchen – the average American learned to cook four new, innovative recipes since lockdown began.

“Even though some are afforded the gift of time with commutes and rush-hour traffic no longer being a daily issue, anxiety and depression surrounding the pandemic are still conditions being felt by many,” said Dr. Lawrence Weinstein, chief medical officer for American Addiction Centers. “With more time available, unhealthy habits such as increased substance and/or alcohol use can persist. For those who may be dealing with those issues, making better lifestyle choices such as lessening alcohol intake, adapting a better diet and exercise not only improves physical health, but are beneficial for mental health as well.”

For more information, visit rehabs.com.