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Fast forward to new activity habits

Published: 03 June 2021

Image of woman throwing ball in a field

Movement matters

Our physical health is clearly linked to how much we move day-to-day, yet the latest data from Sport England, which can be found on the Sport England website, shows a marked drop in activity levels thanks to coronavirus.

Surrey was no exception, with those counted as active (moving for 150+ minutes per week) falling to its lowest level since the survey began. Similarly, the official 'inactive' figure (those moving purposefully for less than 30 minutes per week) rose to a new high.

We don't need to 'exercise' – just move more

We all know we should get more exercise, but as normal life slowly returns it can seem harder to fit it in than ever.

Some people have already returned to a much-loved sport or have taken up a new one (Surrey's sports clubs desperately need our support), but what about the rest of us? The answer is to incorporate as much movement as possible into our daily lives so that we don't even realise we're getting fit:

  • for local journeys like popping to the shops, walk or cycle whenever possible – apart from the aerobic benefits, you'll automatically be socially distanced while helping to cut pollution. Get the family involved too
  • still working from home? Schedule a time to get out of the house for a break. It will wake up your system and cut the time spent sitting. Even raising your laptop so you can stand while working will help get your blood moving (useful after lunch)
  • clean more - housework is called a chore for a reason but if you look at it as a chance for a mini workout it may help. Having a tidier house will probably make you feel better too
  • think about everyday things you do in a new way:
    • if you usually head for the lift, vow to take the stairs
    • park a little further away when you're shopping
    • wash your car by hand sometimes, instead of using a car wash
    • use a basket rather than a shopping trolley if you can
    • even do a few squats when you're brushing your teeth!

The benefits will come…

The very simple fact is that however we choose to move, it will do us good.

Children who are active are generally happier and better able to concentrate in school. Older people who keep moving have a lower falls risk due to improved strength and balance.

Right now, getting a little fitter could decrease the risks from coronavirus. Figures from the Intensive Care National Audit Research Centre suggest at least two thirds of seriously ill coronavirus patients were overweight or obese.

Looking long-term, inactivity is linked to increased risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancers and other conditions. A lack of movement can also exacerbate mental health problems.

As Active Surrey MD Lil Duggan puts it: "The immediate effect of coronavirus on the nation's health has been very clear, but what's also emerged is that our activity levels have suffered due to the disruption. We owe it to ourselves and our families to regain our active habits".

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