How has Covid-19 changed the country's views on obesity and fitness?

How has Covid-19 changed the country's views on obesity and fitness?

If there is one good thing to have come out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s that people are starting to take their physical and mental health much more seriously. While people with underlying health conditions were considered the most vulnerable right from the start, it was only later in the crisis that a link was made between obesity and an increased risk of both catching and becoming critically ill with the virus. As we slowly start to emerge from the pandemic, how has Covid-19 changed the country’s views on obesity and fitness?

Obesity and coronavirus

At the height of the pandemic, a report published in the UK found that of 10,465 patients critically ill with the virus, 73.7% were overweight or obese. His stay in intensive care certainly opened Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s eyes to the dangers of being overweight. Speaking several weeks after his release from the hospital, the PM said he’d lost over a stone and was trying to live a healthier lifestyle, realising the impact the excess pounds could have had on his chances of survival.

Many people reported gaining weight during the lockdown period, with working from home and the closure of gyms both a factor. As we face the prospect of future waves of Covid-19, there has never been a more critical time to encourage people off their sofas and into a fitness regime which will help them slim down. The government’s announcement of a national ‘Better Health’ campaign was broadly welcomed, with its aim of encouraging people to lose weight and start exercising. Despite the fanfare, however, little tangible change seems to have been made, but it has got people thinking.

Changing with the times

Overall, it seems attitudes towards obesity and fitness have changed due to the pandemic. During the lockdown period, many cycle shop owners said the business was booming as demand increased for new bikes. There was also a surge in people buying home gym equipment, with their usual fitness facilities closed and outdoor exercise limited to half an hour. In the UK, there was a 97% increase in sales of activewear. Searches for ‘home workout’, ‘home fitness’, and ‘home gym’ skyrocketed, higher than they were in January, which is typically the peak season for new fitness regimes.

Online video workouts from the likes of Joe Wicks grew incredibly popular, as more and more people tried to stay as active as they could from home. Whether for weight loss or simply to distract themselves from the pandemic, it seems fitness suddenly piqued the interest of far more people. Now we are gradually emerging from the worst of Coronavirus, it can only be hoped that this interest lasts and people consider the benefits of regular exercise.

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