Coronavirus lockdown transforming people's exercise habits
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Coronavirus lockdown transforming people's exercise habits

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The restrictions on movement caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown are transforming the UK's exercise habits, with home fitness workouts, cycling and walking now the most popular methods of exercise, according to a Savanta ComRes study commissioned by Sport England.

A quarter (25 per cent) of people now regularly undertake home fitness workouts – far above the UK's gym membership penetration level of 15.6 identified by the LDB's 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report.

More than half of adults in England (59 per cent) are using their daily activity time to go for a walk.

One of the biggest changes people are reporting is the company they keep during exercise.

More than a third (37 per cent) of those doing home-based fitness sessions – often using live streaming or online platforms – involve the children in their household in the exercises.

Cycling is also proving to be a popular family activity, with 22 per cent of those who are cycling, doing so with children in their household.

The research also shows how the lockdown – and the threat of coronavirus in general – have led to people recognising the importance of physical activity to staying healthy. Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of adults say it’s more important to be active now, compared with before the outbreak.

An even larger majority of people (67 per cent) also believe exercise is helping them with their mental health during the shutdown.

Sport England CEO Tim Hollingsworth said that while the crisis is severely disrupting the sports and physical activity sector, the silver lining is that people are realising the importance of exercise.

“This is a new and challenging time for everyone and it’s clear from this early research into the nation’s activity levels that there is significant disruption to how people usually seek to build physical activity and exercise into their lives,” he said.

“It’s heartening to see, therefore, that for many, the importance of it has increased – and in particular that they see the benefit to their mental as well as physical health and wellbeing.”

The research does also show, however, that some people are finding it harder to be regularly active than others during the lockdown. These include older people, those on low incomes, those living alone and those in urban areas.

The study was carried out in early April 2020 and surveyed 2,043 English adults.

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The restrictions on movement caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown are transforming the UK's exercise habits, with home fitness workouts, cycling and walking now the most popular methods of exercise, according to a Savanta ComRes study commissioned by Sport England.
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