ENTERPRISE, Ala. (WDHN) — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of Alabamians self-report as being obese, and turns out, the general health risks of that condition are greatly heightened by COVID-19.

Dr. Beverly Jordan with Medical Center Enterprise said the number one risk factor for having COVID complications during and after having the virus, is obesity. She said these Alabamians tend to be sicker and have more long-term complications of COVID.

According to Dr. Jordan, they call these complications “long-COVID”. She said these patients tend to have respiratory and heart complications. Jordan said these patients even have long-term difficulty returning to normal activity much more than those people who are at a healthy weight.

“Panned out to be probably the number one risk factor, and one of the reasons we in the south have been more adversely impacted by COVID because we have a disproportionate amount of obesity in our community,” Jordan said.

Dr. Jordan encourages patients who are considered at high risk for obesity or any other underlying medical conditions to be extremely careful during these times. She said even if vaccinated, people who fall in this category need to be wearing a mask and practicing CDC protocols.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Dr. Jordan said. “Diet and exercise will help almost every medical condition out there. I don’t think we can emphasize enough the importance of eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis.”

Dr. Jordan said it doesn’t take much to get your body moving. She said by walking at least 30 mins a day can make a huge difference.

Jordan also said it’s important to eat plenty of fruits, and drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and remember not to forget we’re still in this fight.

“I don’t want people to be falsely reassured that as the cases decrease that we are quite at that safe range,” Jordan said. “We aren’t quite there yet.”

Dr. Jordan tells WDHN, the biggest thing she can remind the community as numbers from this current peak continue to decline is that the Wiregrass still sits at a high transmission rate for COVID, which is why she said we aren’t safe quite yet.