Although it was sensible to shelter in place at the beginning of the pandemic when we were just beginning to learn about the risks of coronavirus and how it spreads, evidence is now mounting that continuing this practice may no longer be beneficial. In fact it may be quite harmful.
Social distancing and masking continue to be the more effective defense against COVID-19, along with common sense. But continuously staying in your home without ever getting out can actually be more deadly than the virus. Why?
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a dramatic increase in the risk of both getting COVID-19 and dying from it. Our main source of vitamin D is sunshine. So while it makes sense to sometimes avoid crowded indoor spaces, it also makes sense to regularly go outside for healthy walks and a dose of sunshine.
Recent studies in JAMA Network Open and Medscape showed that Americans gained nearly two pounds per month under COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders in 2020. The study authors noted that those who kept the recommended lockdown habits could have gained 20 pounds during the past year.
This is particularly important to note with COVID-19 as obesity is a major risk factor for more severe cases.
A Note on Masks
While masks remain important, in some scenarios we're overdoing it a bit. Dr. Fauci himself has said that when he and his wife are out for walks, his mask is down over his chin, not over his face. If they walk within six feet of somebody else, they flip the mask over their face for a few moments. So while wearing masks indoors in public places is both common sense and common courtesy, wearing a mask while riding your bike or walking outside is, imho, unnecessary. The outdoor atmosphere is generally too large and open for the virus to concentrate enough to be infectious, unless you're in a highly unusual situation such as standing shoulder to shoulder with numerous people for a period of time.
So I happily advise tamping down on some of the pandemic fears you may be feeling with a healthy dollop of common sense :-)
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.