Just one age group has 'increased their exercise amid coronavirus'

Lauren Clark
·3 min read
Over-65s are the only to group to have upped their fitness during the pandemic. (Getty Images)
Over-65s are the only to group to have upped their fitness during the pandemic. (Getty Images)

More people have been turning to exercise during the coronavirus lockdown, in part to manage their mental health.

However, just one age group has continued to keep up its fitness levels throughout the pandemic.

A study has found that older people in the UK have significantly increased their activity as a result of COVID-19.

The research, conducted by University College London (UCL), showed that over-65s were the only age group to positively change their workout habits in the last six months.

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Scientists looked at the exercise levels of 5,395 people between the ages of 14 and 93 from January to June of this year.

They discovered, through GPS data, that after the lockdown was implemented in March approximately two-thirds of the population walked, ran and cycled less.

Many participants in the study, conducted via a smartphone app, stopped working out – and continued to lead a more sedentary lifestyle even when restrictions lifted.

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However, the over-65 age group not only maintained their activity levels, but increased them.

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According to The Sunday Times, experts have hypothesised that coronavirus may have motivated older people to become more active.

Those over 50 years old are more at risk of dying from COVID-19, while recent research by the University of Virginia has suggested exercise can reduce likelihood of deadly complications.

There is also the theory that grandparents may have had more time to get fit during the period when they were prohibited from spending time with grandchildren.

Hannah McCarthy, study co-author, wrote: “We found significant changes in physical activity from the week before the first case of COVID-19 was announced.”

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Researchers also found that younger people’s activity levels nose-dived during the same period.

It is thought that the closure of gyms may have been behind this trend.

Abi Fisher, an associate professor of physical activity and health at UCL, said: “If you have established a habit of going to the gym after work on a certain day, and both of those are taken away, it takes motivation to find a substitute.”

The findings differ from narrower research conducted by Sport England, to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week in May, that found that 63% of people across the first six weeks of lockdown were staying active to look after their minds.

It discovered that more people were working out at home, running in the park and walking or cycling to the shops for essentials.

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