New study reveals 1 in 3 Brits reduced exercise during lockdown, may stay 'inactive' post-pandemic

While the COVID-19 alert level 3 and 4 lockdowns here in Aotearoa have seen lots of people out pounding the pavements or biking around the neighbourhood, research has shown around a third of Brits saw their exercise decrease during lockdown - and experts warn those reduced levels of activity may extend post-pandemic. 

A recent study of over 35,000 people in the UK found that 29 percent reduced their levels of physical activity during and after the first lockdown during the months of March to August last year. 

Published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, the findings also showed that amongst the people whose physical activity levels did not change, 19 percent considered themselves to be 'consistently inactive'. 

The data was collected as part of the giant UCL COVID-19 Social Study, conducted during the period of strict lockdown followed by the easing of restrictions.

During this period, the authors observed a steady increase in the percentage of people who reported not having done any physical activity on the previous working day. 

They found that 29 percent of participants showed either declines in physical activity or increased physical inactivity, while just 9 percent of participants showed an increase. 

Given the results, the authors suggested that as there are known health benefits of physical activity, understanding changes in physical activity habits, and associated factors, is essential for changing healthcare policy in the aftermath of COVID-19.

How to workout during lockdown 

With gyms and fitness studios set to be closed for a while yet here in New Zealand, if you're looking to up your exercise regime there are a range of ways to do it - ranging from completely free and accessible options to some on the pricier end of things. 

Jump online 

There is a wide range of workouts available online at any time via international YouTube channels, dedicated apps, and online classes run by local studios that need our help. A range of Newshub's favourite online classes available can be found here. Otherwise, find yourself a good podcast to get hooked into and aim to walk around your neighbourhood for the length of one episode every day. 

High angle view of young Asian woman practising weight training workout at home with a video lesson on laptop during the day.
Photo credit: Getty Images.

Gear up 

You can get lots of gym-worthy gear delivered to your home during lockdown to help turn your deck, backyard or spare room into your own personal fitness studio. On the lower-priced end of things, some dumbbells, fitness bands or 'Bala bands' - a brand of weighted wrist bracelets - will help amplify your upper body workouts so you won't be restarting at square one upon heading back to the gym.

If you're more serious about staying in shape, you can get a whole Barbell rack, or for a full-body workout try making an order from New Zealand-owned and operated 'Exerfly': A multi-use training platform built for everything from heavy-duty workouts to rehabilitation. It's used by a lot of top athletes worldwide for working out at home or when travelling, so it's bound to get you in shape in no time. 

The all-in-one machine is basically a full gym in your house.
The all-in-one machine is basically a full gym in your house. Photo credit: Instagram/@Exerfly.

Clean it out

If the whole exercise thing isn't really your jam, there are plenty of other ways to get the body moving and heart rate up. Use these last few weekends at levels 3 and 4 (did I jinx it?) to get all the spring cleaning done you've ever wanted. The average person burns 170 to 300 calories an hour cleaning, so you'll work up a sweat without realising it. Put on some music, do some squats as you're cleaning the windows and bottom cupboards you never look in... immediately it becomes a full-body workout. Plus, you'll have a gleaming house as a reward at the end of it.

Put on some tunes and work up a sweat without realising..
Put on some tunes and work up a sweat without realising.. Photo credit: Getty Images.