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Nutrition expert gives tips on staying active and eating healthy during COVID-19 pandemic

26-Mar-2020 5:10 PM EDT, by Virginia Tech

With the spread of COVID-19, countless people are working from home and adjusting their eating habits and activity accordingly. It is important to try to retain your normal eating habits and stay active, even if the options look different, says Elena Serrano, Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist and director of the Virginia Family Nutrition Program.

“Eating well and being active is critical during this time of anxiety and uncertainty – both to maintain emotional and physical wellness but to maximize your immune system,” says Serrano.

Serrano provides some helpful tips to assist with proper nutrition and exercise at home:

  • Place fruits and vegetables on counters or in your new workspace to help encourage you to eat them.
  • Create a home exercise routine. Do whatever it takes to be active each day. Build it into your day like you would brushing your teeth. It’s a great outlet for stress. Check out for some free at home workout videos. 
  • Limit high-sugar, high-fat sweets, like ice cream, cookies, and other desserts – It is tempting to seek comfort foods during this time, but try to limit them.
  • Try new recipes – be creative!
  • Get outside. Walk, run, garden, etc. The fresh air will help you feel less isolated. Follow proper social distancing and guidelines from local health departments.

About Serrano:

Serrano is the director of the Virginia Family Nutrition Program, within Virginia Cooperative Extension, aimed at promoting food security, dietary quality, and food access among limited resource families. Prior to this position, she served as a Childhood Obesity Extension Specialist. She has helped provide statewide leadership for the development, delivery, evaluation, and promotion of a variety of extension education programming. She has also conducted numerous research studies, including a comparison of packed lunches to school lunches, school food waste, local school wellness policies, smart snacks in schools, and the nutritional quality of children’s menus at restaurants.

Schedule an interview:

To secure an interview with Elena Serrano, contact Shannon Andrea in the media relations office at [email protected] or 703-399-9494.

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