2020 was a year like no other, with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic raging across the globe and unprecedented public health orders set by governments all around the world. Given that most of us were subjected to lockdown orders at some point, an interesting survey published recently in the USA showed that the Covid-19 pandemic not only has devastating mortality rates, but also many indirect negative consequences on both our physical and mental well-being.
The study surveyed nearly 8000 people, and the findings were startling:
- Significant increase in sedentary behaviour
- Significant decrease in physical activity
- 43% reported increase in unhealthy snacking
- 25% reported significant weight gain
- 44% report worsened sleep quality
- Anxiety levels almost doubled
Although alarming, the results are unsurprising when we consider the effects of being confined indoors for a prolonged period of time. Good habits give way to bad ones, motivation levels drop, regular exercise may stop altogether, and even incidental exercise becomes lacking without the opportunity to move.
Recognising these issues is a key first step to address, and potentially reverse, the unhealthy behaviours picked up over the last 12 months. Long lasting problems associated with these issues may include chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and mental health disorders.
Luckily for those of us living in Australia, one of the few countries in the world with no community transmission of the virus, all cities are coming out of lockdown and life is gradually returning to normal. This is the perfect time to head outdoors, move more, soak up the sunshine, and resume exercise. It is important to remember that while we may feel ready to get back to running, playing sport, or lifting weights at the gym, our sedentary bodies will need time to adapt and adjust to the new levels of activity. So, take it easy at the start and increase slowly but surely!
As Physiotherapists, our goal is to promote physical and mental well-being through practical advice on exercise, movement, and injury prevention. We are keen to help you achieve your fitness goals and start the new year in a positive light. Speak to one of our experienced Physios face-to-face or online here at Bend + Mend to see how we can better assist you.
Flanagan, E.W., Beyl, R.A., Fearnbach, S.N., Altazan, A.D., Martin, C.K. and Redman, L.M. (2021), The Impact of COVID‐19 Stay‐At‐Home Orders on Health Behaviors in Adults. Obesity, 29: 438-445. https://doi.org/10.1002/oby.23066