For those of us now working from home is it easier to be active?


To say that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world would be an understatement. But has it changed how active we are? There’s certainly a risk of becoming less active as we spend more time at home or are we still being active, but in different ways?

Millions of us that would normally be commuting to work, then spending hours sitting in an office for 8 plus hours a day are now working from home, coupled with the fact that many gyms we would visit during a lunch break or after work have been forced to close. So that would suggest we might be being less active.

However, the Journal of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine recently reported that Google Trends in the UK, USA and Australia saw an increase of interest in exercise. Their statistics showed an immediate surge following the first lockdown, which then even after it peaked, still remained at a higher level than before the lockdown. What’s perhaps even more striking is that whilst the search term ‘television show’ was overall a more searched topic than ‘exercise’ the increase in ‘exercise’ was so large that it surpassed ‘television show’ for the first two weeks following lockdown in Australia and the UK.

There’s also been other changes with fitness instructors using Zoom to deliver classes, sales of and downloading of fitness apps increasing and gyms even lending out equipment for a small charge.

Some of the motivation for this probably stems from our realisation that we are moving so much less by working from home. Apart from the obvious end to commuting, although this was for most probably made by car, bus or train anyway; there’s no walking between meetings, offices, lunchtime shopping and that general 6000+ steps we clocked up daily, the ‘unseen’ exercise.

We’ve definitely all gained some time back, previously spent on travelling to work and it’s clearly up to the individual how they choose to spend this – hobbies, with family or being more active, but the latter certainly seems to have seen a positive trend to us all moving more. Whether this continues will possibly depend on what happens post-covid and to what extent people return to the office or continue to work from home.

Professor Stark from the University of Leeds thinks it’s too early to tell whether coronavirus could lead to a new physical activity boom. He acknowledges the fact that the online classes tap into something that didn’t exist in home fitness before and offer us more flexibility, but believes that the lure of the gym may prove stronger in the long term.

“When the lockdown is phased out and then ends, it is much more likely that people will flock back to gyms and sports fields to recapture the vital social, human contact which is also integral to exercise for so many.”

But at least one thing is likely to remain and that’s greater opportunity and flexibility to exercise in different ways and at times more convenient to us.

If you are looking ways for stay active check out Active Leeds Active Leeds or if like many you are struggling to cope with this new way of working and living, you may find these tips from NHS helpful


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