Long-term effects of Covid on exercise, leisure and sedentary lifestyles

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After a year or more of the pandemic, Covid has changed so much in our daily lives. The world is slowly beginning to reopen but some of the lifestyle changes that the pandemic has brought could be permanent. In these uncertain times, the ways in which we relax and exercise have changed.

Effects on leisure

With many of our favorite leisure activities unavailable, many people have turned to new hobbies to occupy their time. The absolute craze for baking that exploded at the start of the pandemic seems to have subsided like over-proofed dough. Many people have used the pandemic to pursue new creative hobbies. People have turned to activities like gardening, baking, fiber arts (sewing, knitting, crocheting etc) and writing to keep themselves occupied and to improve their mood while unable to engage in their usual routines.

Video games – traditional console, PC games and mobile games – have risen in popularity during 2020. Unable to socialize in person, playing team video games has been one of the few ways in which many people, especially teens, have been able to interact with their close friends. While playing video games is not the most active pastime, studies have shown that there are some positive mental effects of gaming. These positive effects include stress reduction, increased emotional stability and problem-solving skill development.

Effects on exercise

One of the biggest effects on exercise during the pandemic has been the closure of gyms and other recreation facilities. Some people have used this as an excuse to stop exercising for the time being but others have found alternatives. Running and other outdoor activities such as hiking or bicycling are still accessible and many people have dusted off their old 10-speed and gotten back into these forms of exercise. Creating a home gym, either with weights or with fancy machines like the Peloton stationary bike and its competitors, has been another popular alternative to going to the gym. And it’s not just people buying this equipment and letting it collect dust – online classes and workouts have seen an increase in attendance.

Unable to play team sports on rec leagues or attend big games, more people have turned to fantasy sports as a way to feel involved. Sports betting and fantasy sports betting as the likes that you find on WSN.com are some of the ways fans can feel connected to their teams when they are unable to be there in person. With stadiums starting to open up this could change but it seems unlikely, as sports betting is growing in popularity across the country as more and more states legalize online and in-person sports betting.

The multiple health benefits of yoga have become even more obvious during the pandemic. Not only is it a great type of exercise for increasing one’s flexibility and muscle control, it also can improve one’s mental wellbeing. Yoga has been shown to reduce stress levels, decrease anxiety and promote a healthy mindset. These are all essential benefits, considering how difficult the past year has been for everyone.

Effects on sedentary lifestyles

For some, the pandemic has only worsened tendencies towards being sedentary. For others, the mental health challenges raised by the isolation we’ve been stuck in has pushed them into more sedentary lifestyles. There is concern that these tendencies will continue once life returns to normal. One of the negative side effects of a sedentary lifestyle, besides obesity, is an inability to think clearly – often known as brain fog. Brain fog has many symptoms, which can include headaches, an inability to concentrate or sleep well, and struggles with memory. It’s a vicious cycle because these symptoms reduce your energy and make you want to do even less. Exercise is one of the best ways to combat brain fog.

However, there is also a likelihood that there will be a cultural reaction to the enforced sloth and solitude of the past year and people will flock to more active hobbies once they’re available. People may now have a greater appreciation for the world outside their front doors and more interest in adventurous outdoor activities such as hiking or kayaking.

It is still too early to tell what sort of long-term effects Covid will have on our health and lifestyles. If any good is to come out of the suffering and strain of the Corona virus pandemic, it will hopefully be in the form of a population that has more appreciation for an active and engaged lifestyle and a renewed enjoyment of time spent outdoors.