THE COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a surge of fitness enthusiasts, according to a new British Heart Foundation (BHF) survey.
The figures show that two-thirds (64%) of people surveyed say that exercising is a priority for improving their physical and mental health in the wake of coronavirus – up 6 per cent compared to before the pandemic.
The survey also shows that 29 per cent of respondents expect their physical health to improve as lockdown lifts, and 28 per cent expect their mental health to benefit.
The good intentions come at an important time, with one in three people (31%) surveyed saying the pandemic has led to their fitness deteriorating. Of those, 61 per cent say this is because they’ve been staying in the house more, and 43 per cent say they have been less motivated to exercise during the pandemic.
But for others, months of lockdown has had the opposite effect. One in five (20%) people surveyed say they’re are fitter now than before the pandemic, citing having more free time to try new forms of exercise and a desire to get out of the house more (32%) as some of the motivators. More than a third (37%) of people surveyed who exercise say they have been exercising more frequently, albeit in shorter bursts.
As the UK starts to open up, the British Heart Foundation is urging the nation to take small steps to improve their heart health in June. It’s encouraging people to take on its MyMarathon challenge, which asks participants to get sponsored for running the distance of a marathon over a month.
It’s no secret that running is good for your heart, with 68% of people surveyed already considering their heart health as a reason to exercise.
Regina Giblin, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the BHF, said:
“It’s promising to see that more people are prioritising the physical and mental benefits of exercise as we emerge from the pandemic. A year of lockdown has affected us all in different ways. For some, it’s given us the time to make healthy changes to our lifestyles, while for others, it’s made things understandably more difficult. Regardless of your situation, the lifting of lockdown provides the perfect opportunity to build on the healthy habits you’ve already adopted or change the unhealthy ones you may have picked up.”
“Regular physical activity can reduce the risk of developing heart and circulatory disease by up to 35%. Running regularly can strengthen your heart muscle and make it more efficient, which means it requires less energy to beat and can pump more blood around your body at a lower heart rate or pulse. Therefore, running can help reduce your risk of heart disease and benefit both your body and mind.
“MyMarathon is the ideal challenge for beginner and novice runners to take on and make a difference to their own health whilst raising money for the BHF’s life-saving research.”
There are currently 7.6 million people in the UK living with heart and circulatory diseases. The BHF fund medical breakthroughs into these conditions, which sadly kill one in four people in the UK.
To sign up to MyMarathon and help to raise life-saving funds for research into heart and circulatory diseases, head to: https://www.bhf.org.uk/mymarathon.