How to establish good health as lockdown eases

PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 July 2020

Running can improve your health   Picture: Getty Images

Running can improve your health Picture: Getty Images

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As good hygiene and virus avoiding tactics are at the forefront of people’s minds during this pandemic, it seems another big health issue is lying in wait as people grapple with bad lockdown habits and ever-expanding waistlines.

Adopting an active lifestyle can improve your health. Picture: Getty ImagesAdopting an active lifestyle can improve your health. Picture: Getty Images

In a recent King’s College London and Ipsos MORI survey, 48 per cent of the 2,254 respondents said they had put on weight during lockdown. This may be partly due to the limited amount of exercise people could take at the beginning of lockdown, and the close emotional link that many people have with food as a way to ease anxiety during periods of uncertainty.

The June 5 report – Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain – from the Office for National Statistics, indicated that 63 per cent of people are feeling worried about the future. Whilst other common issues affecting wellbeing included the 56 per cent of people who are feeling stressed or anxious and 49 percent who are feeling bored.

Denise Hampson, a leading behavioural economist linked with the Ministry of Justice, explained that people tend to gravitate towards what they find comforting during times of uncertainty.

She said: “We are facing an extreme period of collective anxiety. Nothing we used to do can be taken for granted anymore and we are less clear on what the future holds. This leads to soothing behaviour, to make us feel better, so it’s no surprise we are drinking more alcohol, consuming more social media, smoking and snacking unhealthily.”

Eating healthy, balanced meals and snacks is advocated by many experts. Picture: Getty ImagesEating healthy, balanced meals and snacks is advocated by many experts. Picture: Getty Images

A recent YouGov survey showed that 27 per cent of people in the South West have begun eating unhealthily during lockdown. And despite the explosion of online fitness classes and permitted unlimited daily exercise allowances, 30 per cent of people said they had become less active since coronavirus restrictions hit.

By carrying excess weight, an individual will be more partial to several serious and potentially life-threatening conditions such as type-two diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer, such as breast cancer and bowel cancer.

Public Health England has created the NHS ‘One You’ website and app that are filled with signposts to better health options.

Completing the free How Are You? quiz on the website is a good place to start and will help identify certain areas of your health that may need addressing first. The results are supported with tips on simple everyday changes that will make a big difference to long term health. Go to www.nhs.uk/oneyou/for-your-body/

In the last few years, there has been a shift in how quick weight loss is regarded, with a plethora of ‘fasting’ and limited calorie diet books flying off the bookshelves. Some studies have shown that quick weight loss, through restricted calorie regimes, has been shown to reverse the effects of type-two diabetes, yet as with all diets, it should be monitored under the careful guidance of a medical professional.

Eating healthy, balanced meals and snacks are regarded as more important than faddy diets and Public Health England’s Eatwell plate gives a good indication of portion sizes and the proportion of different food groups that should be consumed. To access the Eatwell plate and read up about the dietary recommendations, visit www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-eatwell-guide

Recent data from an NHS Digital report on May 5, 2020, shows that people in Devon are more active than the national average. Although this is a positive sign, it is worth bearing in mind that adults should aim to be active daily, accumulating to a weekly total of at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week. Making way for strength building activities at least twice a week is also considered important.

If you’re needing a little inspiration, pay a visit to the Sport England website and look at – www.sportengland.org/stayinworkout#get_active_at_home, where you can freely access a wide range of exercising content.

Active Devon has some helpful exercises on its website, designed to help and encourage people to remain active - www.activedevon.org/how-to-get-and-stay-active-while-youre-at-home/

And Age UK has some simple exercises created with the elderly in mind - see www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/health-wellbeing/exercise/simple-exercises-inactive-adults


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