Pandemic pounds are real. Northeastern study calls on public health officials to address the fitness quandary

03/10/23 – BOSTON, MA. – Lauren Raine, an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences and the Department of Medical Sciences at the Center for Cognitive and Brain Health, researches how covid pandemic has impacted body mass index of pre-teens and older adults, in the ISEC building on March. 10, 2023. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

The term “pandemic pounds” had already been coined when Lauren Raine and colleagues reopened their lab at Northeastern’s Center for Cognitive and Brain Health to participants in August of 2020.

Even so, they were taken aback by the stark differences a few months of isolation had made in the fitness levels of children and adults they study as part of a federal brain health research project.

“It had only been four to five months (of isolation) and people were drastically different,” Raine says.

She led a team of researchers in quantifying the results for a study published in Frontiers in Public Health that documented increases in the body mass index of participant groups studied before and during COVID shutdowns, as well as decreases in their cardiovascular fitness.

“I don’t think we quite realized the impact” of the shutdowns, when gyms were closed and even parks marked off by caution tape, says Raine, an assistant professor whose co-authors include Northeastern’s Arthur Kramer and Charles Hillman.

Read more at Northeastern Global News.