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Wednesday, 5 August 2020

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BHF urges the nation to get active as lockdown lifts to help improve health

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EXERCISE and the great outdoors have taken a backseat as Brits have increased their gaming, phone time and TV during the lockdown, according to a new survey from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Figures show that more than half of UK adults have spent more time surfing the internet and social media (55%) and watching TV (50%) since the lockdown, while a quarter of (25%) gamers have ramped up their hours spent at the computer.

The data also shows that for many, a commitment to staying active and sticking to a balanced lifestyle has gone by the wayside, as the findings showed:

  • A quarter of those surveyed say they have done less exercise (25%)
  • Over a fifth have eaten more junk food (23%)
  • Three in ten say they’ve spent less time walking (27%)
  • One in five say they’ve drunk more alcohol (18%)
  • On average, those surveyed have been leaving their home just three times a week to exercise

The BHF warns that the sudden and sustained change in habits could take its toll on our health, with almost a third of those surveyed saying they feel less healthy (30%), over a third more stressed (37%), more than 4 in 10 feeling more anxious (42%), and over a third of us feeling sadder (36%).

The BHF, supported by Olympic legend Roger Black, is encouraging people to get active now lockdown is beginning to lift and take part in their new Step Challenge. The charity has launched the new fundraiser to help people to get active in a safe, convenient and enjoyable way while helping to raise funds for the BHF’s lifesaving research.

My Step Challenge has three different levels, from 50,000 steps for those who are new to exercising or looking to get active again to 500,000 steps for those who are already active and are looking for a goal to work towards. Each challenge can be completed in your own time and was designed with the help of BHF Cardiac Nurses so are suitable for all fitness levels, including those with heart and circulatory conditions.

Olympic and World Champion runner and BHF Ambassador Roger Black MBE, who is supporting the campaign, said:

“I’ve never let my heart condition hold me back from achieving my goals. I’m proud to be a British Heart Foundation Ambassador as the research they fund helps people like myself lead a fit and healthy life.

“In these unprecedented times, looking after our physical and mental health has never been more important. Walking is an essential part of my life and a great form of exercise that anyone can do. My Step Challenge is a brilliant way to connect with others, get active and feel good – as well as helping raise money to support the BHF’s vital work.”

The data also revealed that on average those surveyed are spending just 124 minutes a week exercising during the lockdown, falling short of the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week.

Barbara Kobson, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“We’ve all felt the strain of lockdown but it’s important to try and limit the impact it has on our health. Brisk walking for 20-30 minutes a day can be a simple way to achieve the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week and can also improve sleep patterns, reduce stress levels, boost your energy levels and help you get fit and active.

“Whether you’re new to exercise or an experienced walker, taking part in the garden or at the park, or even if you’re walking in your own front room, My Step Challenge has a target to suit you. Each step you take will help support the BHF’s life-saving research into heart and circulatory conditions, which affects around 7.4 million people in the UK.”

During this coronavirus crisis, the BHF has been working tirelessly to support people with heart and circulatory diseases, by providing vital information via its dedicated Heart Helpline and an online coronavirus hub.

But with the pandemic costing the charity around £10 million a month, it is now urging the public to #BackTheBHF and help the millions of people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases including coronary heart disease, stroke and vascular dementia. Research suggests that people with these conditions are also at higher risk of complications from COVID-19.

More people than ever now need the British Heart Foundation (BHF) to continue to provide vital support and fund life-saving research. Without support from you, the BHF can’t be there in their time of need.

Sign up now to set your goal, count your steps and help save lives with My Step Challenge and the BHF: www.bhf.org.uk/mystepchallenge

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