Video Transcript

JOHN WHYTE: Hi, everyone. You're watching Coronavirus in Context. I'm Dr. John Whyte, chief medical officer at WebMD. You know, we did a survey a few weeks ago at WebMD where we asked people if they were gaining weight during the pandemic. And not surprisingly, most people are, typically about nine or 10 pounds. So to answer some of the questions that I know are on your mind, I've asked Dr. Cedric Bryant to join me. He is the president and chief science officer of the American Council on Exercise. Dr. Bryant, thanks for joining me.

CEDRIC BRYANT: Thanks for having me, John.

JOHN WHYTE: How concerned are you about physical inactivity? We know it's related to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure. And you know, folks are trying to evaluate the risk, the risk of catching coronavirus being out and about versus the risk of being very stationary at home. You know, sitting is the new smoking, you know, some folks--


JOHN WHYTE: --like to say. So how do we balance those risks, Dr. Bryant?

CEDRIC BRYANT: Well, John, I'm glad you mentioned that because in a lot of respects, we also have a physical inactivity pandemic, and we have had-- had so for many years. And that's why you have organizations like the World Health Organization. They have the global action plan for physical activity, which I'm a part of that panel, where the whole aim is to try to get individuals worldwide to take part in more physical activity because we know that being physically active can help reduce one's risk of a variety of chronic conditions that really, you know, have a significant public health impact.

And CDC has a similar initiative that I'm also involved with called Active People, Healthy Nation. And the idea, again, is to get 15 million people to move from doing nothing to doing just one 10-minute bout of physical activity a week and another 10 million to go from doing something to meeting the established guidelines of accumulating 150 minutes of activity over the course of a week and then finally, getting 2 million children to meet the recommended guidelines for children, so to try to get 27 million Americans doing more physical activity than they're currently done by the year 2027 and, again, because of the profound health benefits that are associated with maintaining an active lifestyle.

JOHN WHYTE: What can we be doing with our kids now?

CEDRIC BRYANT: Oh, I think this is a-- a-- I think a great time for parents to-- to be creative in terms of-- because we find-- you know, many-- many parents find themselves home with their children and so forth, and so you can, you know, take breaks and engage in a variety of activities and play, actually. Because one of the things, unfortunately, in our culture, we've kind of lost the-- the ability and encouraging our kids to play and do some of the things that I think were traditional, just staples of growing up from, you know, playing-- playing a variety of games outside, climbing, exploring. And you can do all those things as a parent with your children. I think it'd be something that would be, I think, fun for the parent, as well as the kids certainly would get a charge out of it.

JOHN WHYTE: But if there's two or three practical tips that most of us could start today to start getting healthier. What would they be?

CEDRIC BRYANT: Sure. I would say one is to look for any and every opportunity just to simply move. And-- because all movement offers benefit and counts. It's like loose change in your pocket. It all adds up into real money at the end of the day. So I like to tell people think about kind of getting in activity snacks, just like we're getting snacks from a nutrition standpoint.

And so it might be during a commercial break, you march in place, watching a television program. Or rather using the restroom or facilities that are on the level of your home that you're on, walk upstairs and go-- or go to whichever one is furthest away just, again, for ways to kind of sneak in a little snack of activity would be one thing that I would encourage people to do.

The other thing, I would say, is to try to, as much as possible, incorporate movement into your normal activity, so in terms of if there's a way that you can look at being an active commuter, as opposed to, you know, using other modes of transportation, whether it's going to work, whether it's going to run errands. Look for any opportunity that you can-- can move more.

And then the other thing I would say is just really try to adopt some-- I call it some family play time. Don't-- don't refer to it as exercise. Don't refer to it as physical activity, but simply, it's-- it's our recess play break as a family. Because I think one of the challenges that we have is that too often, when people hear exercise, I think it connotes a bit of intimidation. It's something structured, something that's not fun. But playing, back from when we were children, we think of that in a positive sense and as something that we would actually look forward to.

JOHN WHYTE: Well, we've been doing a family walk most days of the week, which we did not do pre-COVID. So those are--


JOHN WHYTE: --great ideas. Dr. Bryant, I want to thank you for taking time today and sharing your insights.

CEDRIC BRYANT: Well, thank you for having me, John, and thank you for discussing this very important topic.

JOHN WHYTE: And thank you for watching Coronavirus in Context.