Countries with lower obesity rates are the ones keeping gyms open
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Countries with lower obesity rates are the ones keeping gyms open

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Investigations by HCM have revealed a correlation between countries with lower obesity rates and those where governments have kept gyms open during lockdowns.

HCM found European countries with an obesity rate of 22 per cent or above are more likely to be closing gyms, while countries with lower obesity rates – under 22 per cent – are more likely to keep them open.

The countries with the highest rates of obesity in Europe, including the UK (with an obesity rate of 26.40 per cent), Czech Republic (26 per cent) and Ireland (25.30 per cent) have closed their gyms as part of the latest round of lockdowns.

Meanwhile, countries whose obesity rates are among the Continent's lowest – such as Switzerland (19.50), Denmark (19.70 per cent), Austria (20.10 per cent) and The Netherlands (20.40 per cent) – have kept their gyms open.

On Tuesday 3 November, for example, the government of the Netherlands updated its COVID-19 guidance and called a stop on international travel and closed theatres, visitor attractions, cinemas and libraries.

However, when it came to keeping the population fit, the government said gyms would "remain open, because exercise is too important to the physical and mental health of people".

In the UK, the physical activity sector is lobbying to convince the government to categorise gyms and leisure centres as "essential services", which would mean they could remain open during COVID-19 lockdowns.

The UK entered a month-long "Lockdown 2" today (5 November), which will force gyms to shut until 2 December.

HCM editor, Liz Terry, said: "This correlation between gyms being open and obesity levels shows different government attitudes towards their citizens.

"We applaud governments that prioritise health, empower people to keep themselves fit and healthy and enable them to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and self-care.

"We utterly condemn those who feel justified in removing this most fundamental human right from their populations – the right to take personal responsibility for your own wellbeing.

"The UK government must realise that every day that goes by with gyms and sports facilities closed, hundreds of thousands of people are being forced to be more sedentary, to get less fit and to become significantly more susceptible to COVID-19 – for absolutely no gain whatsoever and for no logical reason.

"Gyms are safe – this has been conclusively proven – so essentially, this is a massive lose:lose situation. We are damaging the health of the population, loading more of a burden onto our health services, while making absolutely no difference whatsoever to the spread of the virus.

"In addition, we are putting a major financial strain on facility providers and making it necessary for overstretched local authorities in the UK to find funds to subsidise leisure centres or see them close permanently.

"We emplore the government to reopen gyms, leisure centres and sports facilities now, to allow people to keep fit and to protect themselves and their families from the ill health and serious COVID-19 complications that can come from being sedentary and obese."

The date for the obesity levels come from The World Factbook,, while the status of whether gyms are open or closed is based on the situation at 5 November.

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Investigations by HCM have revealed a correlation between countries with lower obesity rates and those where governments have kept gyms open during lockdowns.

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