Stay at home or stay fit?

Is the pandemic turning us into physical wrecks?

Is the pandemic turning us into physical wrecks?

Traditionally this is the time of year when many of us get stuck into a strict regime of exercise and cut back on the calories after a seemingly endless festive season of over-indulgence.

We’re at the gym pounding out the steps on the running machine or feeling the force of some other apparatus designed to increase our aerobic capacity and muscle tone, while at the same time boosting our sense of wellbeing and improving our health.

We sweat and pant and breathe heavily and when it’s all over and we’ve taken that rejuvenating shower we feel all the better for it. For those who prefer the great outdoors, there’s running, or power walking, or cycling, giving us freedom and unlimited amounts of lung-cleansing, fresh air. That’s the way it was. For years. Before covid arrived and changed everything.

It’s been proven that the pandemic has had a massively debilitating effect on our mental health but coronavirus aside what about our physical health? We didn’t go out during lockdowns because we couldn’t and by the time “Freedom Day” finally arrived some remained tentative about venturing outside. Then restrictions tightened again, for some more tightly than for others.

The Omicron variant may well be less severe and life-threatening for most than other variants, but few actually want to get it. And even if the current outbreak has passed its peak, the fear factor remains.

This time it’s less terrifying than at the height of the first lockdown, but indications are that many of us now walk less, run less, go to the gym less and play sports less. This is partly because we’ve got out of the habit, partly because we can no longer be bothered, and partly because we would rather not run, than run the risk of infection. 

The health industry has taken a massive hit during the pandemic, with numerous gyms and clubs shutting down. Those that remain do all they can to provide a safe environment for their clients.

Hand-cleansing gels are everywhere, clients are urged to wipe down each piece of equipment they use, and staff follow up with a further clean. Changing rooms are also frequently sanitised.

But problems are inevitable, a session at the gym is meant to be hard work but fun too. Opinions have been divided over whether wearing a mask while exercising at the gym is the right option and doing so can prove difficult and uncomfortable.

Keeping an adequate distance between trainer and client can also be an issue. Most gyms offer individual and group online sessions, but this is already a saturated market, so the way ahead remains uncertain.

At the same time, our recent survey shows that 12% of our readers say they feel tired all the time (and a further 23% a lot of the time). The condition is so common that the NHS has given it the acronym “TATT”. But as everyone knows, one of the most highly recommended ways of combatting tiredness is regular exercise.


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