As statistics showed a link between obesity and COVID-19 related deaths the role of exercise and healthy eating habits became increasingly important in how we combat the pandemic.
A number of reports have linked obesity to coronavirus deaths -the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now list severe obesity as a risk factor for severe COVID-19 and government statistics showed just under 8% of critically ill patients in intensive care units with corona virus have been morbidly obese, compared with 2.9% of the general population. A study in New York with over 4000 patients found severe obesity was the most significant major risk factor for hospitalisation after age.
The Prime Minister himself admitted that he was ‘too fat’ after being hospitalised with COVID-19 and did a u-turn on his previous stance against a “nanny-state” by proposing calorie counts on restaurant meals and a ban on “buy one get one free deals” on unhealthy food . However at the same time we were given 50% off fast food chains making a Big Mac Meal £2.35.
During the pandemic we interviewed prestonians on their experience of lockdown. Two of our interviewees, Emelina and Lyn, work in the fitness industry. Emelina is a fitness instructor, yoga teacher and zumba teacher who found motivation hard to find during the pandemic. Lyn is the owner of a fitness group called TRIbe Fitness and spoke to us about online classes and protecting our bodies.
Lyn talked to us about transitioning to online classes and the difference between online classes and traditonal in person classes. She explained that they’d reduced the price of membership when they went online, ‘you don’t have the same connection…so it’s only fair’. This suggests that there is an understanding that virtual classes aren’t typically valued as highly as an in person class.
For Lyn the relationship between herself and her class can’t be replicated but it is important that she is there for her clients and that she is able to keep her business afloat.
However online classes can be more convenient for people, allowing us to enter a class at any time and do them from the comfort of our home. On the other hand some of us find that we lose our motivation to do exercise when we are not in a ‘real life’ class. Emelina, a fitness instructor, spoke about this and also how by organising online classes it gave her new found routine she had lost .
Emelina also spoke about how she thinks people will be more into fitness after the pandemic and how whilst unhealthy habits may have set in for many of us at the start of lockdown she doesn’t think they will last.
In this video Lyn talks about the relationship between physical fitness and mental wellbeing and how now being able to train in small groups is ‘priceless’ for allowing community spirit as well as improving our health.
She also talks about how initially there was a government focus on getting people to do exercise everyday but how now the focus seems to have shifted towards enjoying fast food and the pub. She queries why gyms have remained closed when pubs have opened and comments that she doesn’t believe gyms are less safe than pubs and that the reason they are opening first has the wrong motivations behind it.
Lyn critiqued the government opening pubs and fast food joints as ‘Get fat, get ill, screw your immune system up….i like a drink like the rest of people but how you can be outside and intoxicated …it makes no sense to me it’s obviously all about the economy’.
Funding for healthier lifestyles has gained more attention as the media reported the link between healthy habits and Corona virus survival rates, Heather hopes that this could mean more funding is given to exptend the Guild Wheel in Preston. In the video below Heather talks about the original plans for the Guild Wheel to be extended but how cuts to local services have prevented this from happening. She also speculates on if this will change with renewed government focus on encouraging cycling as a result of the pandemic.
Lyn also spoke about how important health is because ‘this is the only body we’ve got and people take it for granted’. With 62% of British adults being classed as overweight, a figure which is expected to continue to rise, the emphasise to improve our health has never been more important. However government interventions have not been without criticisms, charity Beat argues that calorie counters on restaurant menu’s will be incredibly damaging to eating disorder sufferers and there have been always been conversations over whether it is the role of the government to intervene in our lifestyle choices.
Do you think the pandemic has made you healthier or more unhealthy? Do you think the government should be intervening and providing money to assist us in making healthier choices? #JoinTheConversation at The Living City.