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Maintain Health Amid the COVID-19 Outbreak

With the evolving impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) in communities across the country, many Americans are facing new challenges preventing them from going to the office, school, grocery store, or gym. The American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization focused on heart and brain health for all, has resources to help maintain a healthful lifestyle while at home. RDs still meeting with clients in person or virtually can help them stay healthy when gyms are closed or getting there is too risky.

“Prevention is key in limiting the spread of coronavirus, and with more people working remotely or limiting their exposure to crowds, it’s important to maintain healthy habits at home,” says Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, FAAFP, American Heart Association’s chief medical officer for prevention. “Wash your hands often and stay home when you feel sick, but don’t disregard your physical activity and healthy eating habits. These are the foundation to maintaining and improving your health.”

The following are some ideas to use at home for whole-body health:

  • Create an at-home circuit workout. Recommend clients select three or four exercises they can do at home, such as jumping jacks, lunges, or jogging in place. They should do each exercise in short bursts and repeat the circuit two to three times.
  • Use shelf-stable ingredients to cook heart-healthy meals. Canned, frozen, and dried fruits and vegetables; frozen meat; and dried grains are great shelf-stable options for clients to have on hand for recipes. Suggest clients try the Vegetarian 3-Bean Chili or Slow Cooker Barbeque Chicken listed below to start. 
  • Fight stress. An unexpected change in circumstance is stressful. Recommend clients use the additional time at home as an opportunity to take action against stress. They can take a few minutes each day to meditate, improve their sleep hygiene for more restful sleep, and call friends and family to stay socially connected.

While the overall risk of getting this virus is currently low in the United States, the American Heart Association is advising caution and preparation for people who have heart disease or who have survived a stroke, because they’re among those facing a higher risk of complications from the coronavirus. 

RDs can remind clients of the basic illness prevention measures, including the following: wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cover cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue away, stay home from work if sick, avoid touching surfaces in public, try not to touch the face, and avoid people who seem visibly sick.


Vegetarian 3-Bean Chili

Serves 6

2 15.5-oz cans no-salt-added red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 15.5-oz cans no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 can no-salt-added, diced tomato, undrained
2 cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
2 tsp dried oregano, crumbled
2 tsp ground coriander
4 medium garlic cloves, minced

1. In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients. Divide the chili between two 1-gallon resealable plastic freezer bags. Place the bags flat in the freezer and freeze.

2. When ready to cook, thaw the bags overnight in the refrigerator. Pour the contents of the bags into a slow cooker. Cook, covered, on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the beans are tender.

Nutrient Analysis per serving
Calories: 483; Total fat: 1 g; Sat fat: 0.1 g; Sodium: 62 mg; Total carbohydrate: 93 g; Dietary fiber: 22 g; Sugars: 23 g; Protein: 30 g

Slow Cooker Barbeque Chicken

Serves 6


Barbecue Sauce
1 14.5 oz canned, no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 T brown sugar (optional or flavor with a no-calorie sweetener)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 T yellow mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp paprika

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, all visible fat discarded
1 cup water


Barbecue Sauce
1. Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl.

1. Place chicken or pork in slow cooker, pour water and Barbeque Sauce over meat.

2. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 10 hours, or on the high setting for 3 to 4 hours. Chicken may break apart easily with fork once cooked.

Nutrient Analysis per serving
Calories: 125; Total fat: 2.5 g; Sat fat: 0.5 g; Sodium: 130 mg; Total carbohydrate: 8 g; Dietary fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 5.3 g; Protein: 17 g

Recipes courtesy of the American Heart Association

For more resources for healthy living at home, visit heart.org/en/healthy-living

Source: American Heart Association