Navigating the challenges of COVID-19 has motivated many people to re-think lifestyle choices, surveys show

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- We're all doing our best to navigate the challenges of COVID-19. One positive: the coronavirus has motivated many people to re-think some of their lifestyle choices.

"What's striking is that COVID-19 has brought to attention the underlying risks of being overweight or having a chronic disease and getting very sick," said Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Mark Hyman.

Yet a survey of Californians with health club memberships say gym closures led to a third of respondents to abandon their regular fitness routines. According to the survey, 78% reported a negative health effect. More than half said they've gained weight, 47% have slept less, about the same number of people say they're eating more poorly and 60% report their overall health is worse.

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Should you go apple picking? What about trick-or-treating? Is it ok to go to the pumpkin patch? What about to haunted houses? These fall activities put you at the highest risk for COVID-19 transmission says Dr. Lisa Pickett, chief medical officer for Duke Health.


However, another survey - done as a joint effort by Parade Magazine and the Cleveland Clinic - reveals more than half of Americans have adopted a healthier lifestyle change. And nearly 80% say the stay-at-home orders made them value their relationships.

"Everybody was living a life that didn't quite feel great," said Dr. Hyman. "Too busy, running around, hectic, chaotic. And when everybody's at home connecting to their family, being in the kitchen, having more time with loved ones, having more time of stillness. I've noticed this: that the quality of life goes up and people are appreciating that."

Still, many are struggling -- 55% of adults, especially young adults, report mental health concerns.
"The lack of being able to congregate, connect with others and the stresses of the economic burden that this has placed on so many families," said Dr. Hyman.

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United Airlines says the risk of COVID-19 exposure onboard its aircraft is "virtually non-existent" after a new study finds that when masks are worn there is only a 0.003% chance particles from a passenger can enter the passenger's breathing space who is sitting beside them.


Another impact of the pandemic: nearly 40% admitted avoiding preventive health and essential care visits due to coronavirus fears.

"We're seeing a lot of complications and health consequences from being afraid to go to the doctor's office, being afraid to go to the emergency room or hospital so they're delaying care," said Dr. Hyman.

During this pandemic, many women are postponing their breast screening appointments and many doctors fear these mammography cancellations could lead to poor breast cancer outcomes in the next few years.

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As part of Mental Illness Awareness week, we asked Southern California residents what they do to help manage their mental health during this difficult year. Eyewitness News viewers shared what they do.

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