“I have no excuses not to exercise as I’m not busy at work or University,” says Elle Gulliford, Cardiff student
EXERCISE levels and the use of fitness apps have increased over the 100 days since the UK first went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, data indicates.
Lockdown rules meant that people could only leave their homes for essential journeys or for one hour of exercise a day. Thus, the UK has seen a rise in people exercising and using fitness apps.
Elle Gulliford, 22, a Cardiff University alumni has said if it was not for lockdown, she wouldn’t be running as much.
“Lockdown has definitely encouraged me to go and run more, I have no excuses not to as I’m not busy at work or University,” Elle said.
Tom Bourlet, 32, a Brighton Blogger for CBDSloth and survey respondent has also exercised more due to lockdown.
“It led me to think outside of the box for workouts and different exercises. Often I would tell myself I’d workout at home, but if I didn’t go to the gym then I simply wouldn’t exercise,” Tom said.
“But with there being no possibility of the gym, it has pushed me to build a purely dumbbell based weekly workout and I have actually really enjoyed it.”
An indicative survey carried out for this article shows that 53% of people have exercised more because of lockdown.
ONS data shows that the most common reason for up to 70% of adults in the UK to leave their homes during lockdown in the month of May was for exercise.
When comparing the minutes adults spent on keeping fit per day in 2014 compared to the minutes spent at the start of lockdown in March this year, there has been an increase of about 3%.
As well as an increase in exercising, people have started to use fitness apps more. Mobile data released in May by mobile network EE, shows the usage of the fitness app, Strava, has tripled compared to pre-lockdown data.
In the indicative survey carried out for this article, 25% of respondents said they have used Strava in lockdown, while 38% have used alternative fitness apps such as Couch25k and MyFitnessPal.
Elle said she used Nike Run Club before lockdown but “was seeing everyone on social media post their Strava runs so wanted to check it out”.
Social media has played a big part in encouraging people to exercise. In April, the hashtag ‘5k4NHS’ was trending and it encouraged people to run 5k, donate £5 to the NHS and nominate five of their friends to do the same.
Data from Hashtagify shows that the use of hashtag ‘running’ has gradually increased over the period of lockdown.
The increase in exercise has helped people’s mental health during lockdown, as well as keeping physically fit.
Elle said: “It is good to get out of the house and running definitely does help with my mental health, for the half hour I’m out my head is clear and I’m not worrying about anything.”
Anna Rose from Warwickshire, said: “I let things slip last year and so when lockdown commenced, I decided to re-visit the Couch to 5km app and re-train myself to achieve 5k status again.
“I’ve taken it slowly as I had to regain my stamina and listen to my body’s limitations, but I’m back to running a constant 25 minutes now which I am very pleased about.
“Not only is this beneficial for my physical health but it creates positivity for my emotional health too.”
Tom has also seen the mental and physical benefit of his increase of exercise. “It allowed me to stop and assess everything from the start, from my diet to my workout plans,” he said.
“It has even offered me time to think about what I want to achieve this year.”
With lockdown easing and people returning to work, there may not be as much time as there was to keep up this new level of fitness.
There is also the issue of being able to exercise whilst maintaining social distancing.
However, 69% of respondents have said they will not decrease their level of exercise now lockdown has eased, or they will continue to maintain the level of exercise they’ve always had.