The restrictions on movement caused by the coronavirus 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.
The study is the first to examine how the unprecedented lockdown has impacted on people’s exercise habits and shows a huge interest in fitness and wellbeing, as people have the time and opportunity to exercise and stay healthy.
Savanta ComRes found a quarter (25 per cent) of people now regularly undertake home fitness workouts – this number is far in excess of the UK’s gym membership penetration level, which currently stands at 15.6 according to the 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report, from David Minton’s Leisure Database Company (LDB).
More than half of adults in England (59 per cent) are using their government mandated daily activity time to go for a walk and get out in the fresh air. The government has persisted on maintaining this freedom where other nations are obliging citizens to stay indoors at all times. It has also mandated that all parks remain open for the duration of the shutdown to enable people to spend time in green space where possible.
Exercising with family
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-fitness sessions – often using live streaming or online platforms – are involving 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 their children or family groups.
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, when compared with responses logged before the outbreak.
A larger majority of people (67 per cent) also believe exercise is helping with their mental health during the shutdown.
The research also shows, however, that some people are finding it harder to be regularly active than others. These include older people, those on a low incomes, people who are living alone and people who live in urban areas.
The study of 2,043 English adults was carried out in early April 2020.
Sport England Survey into Adult Physical Activity Attitudes and Behaviour