The events of the past few months have changed our lives in many ways as we have made sacrifices and worked hard together to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Lockdown, social distancing, fewer opportunities to go out and exercise have all had an effect on our physical and mental health. Some people have embraced some of the opportunities which the lockdown measures presented, using the time to incorporate healthy new habits and exercise into their daily routine. Others may well have felt more restricted due to the fact they have had to shield or generally more nervous about leaving their home.
Whatever your experience, the pandemic has given us all a wake-up call, prompting many of us to think more seriously about our health.
In the UK, almost two-thirds of adults and one in three children aged 10-11yrs are overweight or obese. Our modern lifestyles, the availability of convenience foods, unhealthy habits and low activity levels are some of the contributing factors to this increase.
Carrying extra weight causes fat to build up around our vital organs, making it harder for the body to fight against diseases such as cancer, heart disease and now COVID-19. But if we make small changes, such as swapping sugary drinks for water or walking rather than taking the car/bus, this can make a big difference over time.
By taking action now, using all the support that is available, we can reverse this growing trend and reduce the risks to our health. If you are overweight or living with obesity, lowering your weight can help reduce your risk of developing serious diseases.
Help is at hand! You may have heard that Public Health England has recently launched a new health campaign and we want to encourage you to take a look and use this moment to kickstart your health!
The Better Health campaign has a range of tools and tips to help you make healthier choices and to support you on your journey to better health. This free NHS weight loss plan will help you start healthier eating habits, be more active and start losing weight. The app is free, contains a 12-week plan to help you lose weight and is really simple. It helps you calculate your healthy weight range using your BMI and then advises how many calories you should be eating each day to get you to that weight. There are charts to help you keep tabs on your weight over time, as well as your calories and your activity levels, along with motivational advice and tips to help you stay on track.
Other weight loss plans are available on the website too so you can choose something that works for you. And why not team up with a friend or neighbour to motivate and support each other to improve your health?!
You can also check your risk of type 2 diabetes on the Better Health website and find out if you are eligible for the free Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (England only). This programme will help you make changes to your lifestyle to make it healthier through one-on-one assistance and group support, the latter of which has been shown to be especially effective at helping people sustain healthy changes.
Along with making healthier food choices, being active is also part of the solution.
One in three (34%) men and almost half (42%) of women are not active enough for good health, by not doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week.
The benefits of exercise are well documented and even small increases in our activity levels such as walking or gardening can make a real difference. And the fresh air can give your mood a real boost too!
As parks have reopened there are more places to visit for exercise, just remember to maintain social distancing. It seems many people are dusting off their trainers and taking up cycling and running. As a keen cyclist myself, I’ve noticed many more people out on their bikes. And the number of people downloading the Couch to 5K app between March and June increased by a massive 92% compared to the same period the previous year! It’s great to see so many people exercising and enjoying the great outdoors.
If swimming or working out in a gym appeals more to you though, indoor pools, gyms and leisure centres have been able to reopen too; Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust website has details of the opening times of their facilities. New guidelines and strict social distancing rules are in place to make them safe for you to attend.
So, there are many options to find an activity that suits you. It is important to enjoy what you do and to have fun as well; that way you will keep it up!
We’ve all been through a difficult period these last few months. It’s been a challenge for us all in different ways and to varying degrees. We deserve to feel good and we can work together to support each other in our goal to be as healthy as we can be.
Let’s make today the day we make those changes. Let’s get match-ready and beat this virus! Just give it a try and take it one week at a time.
Resources to help you:
Sport England campaigns:
Join the Movement – tips, advice and guidance on how to get active in and around your home
We are undefeatable – inspiring and supporting people with long term health conditions to build physical activity into their lives
This girl can – inspiring women and girls to get active, no matter their shape, size or ability
Home Goals: Keeping The Community Match Fit – this Club Doncaster Foundation scheme helps men and women improve their physical health through exercise/physical activity, healthy cooking and lifestyle advice.
NHS Couch to 5K