HCM calls on Boris Johnson to keep gyms open during second lockdown
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HCM calls on Boris Johnson to keep gyms open during second lockdown

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As England counts down to lockdown this Thursday, HCM editor Liz Terry, has penned an open letter to the UK government, laying out the case for gyms to remain open.


Dear Boris

We know other nations are closing their gyms, leisure centres, swimming pools and sports facilities, but we urge you not to follow their lead.

Your hastily made announcement on Saturday provisionally included these facilities in the closures, but we ask you to strike out and take a different path.

Let this country stand out from the crowd in prioritising fitness and being the first to keep these facilities open. Let us lead the way.

Here’s the thinking:

. We know if people are unfit and obese, they’re more likely to be hospitalised if they get COVID-19, so keeping the nation fit is the key to reducing pressure on the health service.

. We know from government data that closing gyms and and activity facilities in the last lockdown led to people getting less fit and fatter, making them more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Walking and home workouts helped a little, but not enough. Your data shows we need our facilities.

. Operators of these facilities have been following the operating frameworks they developed with your government, and in doing so, they’ve PROVEN they are safe.

. COVID-19 is not being transmitted in gyms and facilities, so if we close them, we gain nothing and yet we lose a huge advantage.

. It won't cost the government anything to gain this advantage by keeping facilities open.

. We have exceptional gyms, and exceptional fitness professionals in this country. Let them do their valuable work in keeping people safe from COVID-19.

. Scientists have proven that during exercise, the body creates a substance called EcSOD which protects it from COVID-19.

. In September exercise was voted the number one way the public can help the NHS.

More widely we must have a focus on health.

In the summer, you spent £500m subsidising people to eat and drink too much and get fatter and more sedentary via the 'Eat out to help out' scheme.

Imagine if – instead – people had been encouraged to get fit and active and lose weight by investing the money in a 'Work out to help out' exercise scheme?

We would be in a very different place now, with a fitter and less obese population and fewer people being hospitalised with COVID-19.

If we close gyms again, we will repeat this mistake by locking people down through November, so they become less fit and less healthy and then we will unleash them on Christmas, to eat and drink too much for several weeks.

Then we will go into January and February with a sedentary and overweight population, making people far more susceptible to COVID-19.

It’s also the time of year when people’s vitamin D levels – critical to COVID outcomes – are at their lowest.

It’s a disaster waiting to happen and could see us broken by the spring.

Instead we urge you to choose health

. Leave gyms and leisure centres open.

. Launch a ‘Work out to help out’ scheme.

. Encourage people to exercise and to take vitamin D.

. Encourage them not to overindulge at Christmas and to avoid obesity.

If we do this, by the spring, we could be a fitter, healthier and more prosperous nation.

The choice is yours.

It's time for this country to be known as a place where health and self-care are priorities. Time for us to lead and to prove there is a better way.

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As England counts down to lockdown this Thursday, HCM editor Liz Terry, has penned an open letter to the UK government, laying out the case for gyms to remain open.

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