North Walians urged to keep healthy after a third gain weight and exercise less in pandemic

A THIRD of people in North Wales have gained weight and exercised less since the onset of COVID-19.

A report by YouGov in support of the Welsh Government’s Help Us, Help You campaign revealed more than 50% of responders in the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) region are eating less healthily than they were pre-pandemic.

And around 36% had partaken in fewer sports and fitness sessions despite admitting they had more time on their hands in lockdown.

Medical chiefs are urging people to access the vast range of resources and support available to them in a bid to reverse the trend and combat potential serious illness and conditions such as obesity and heart problems.

In addition to the NHS 111 Wales website there is information and guidance available on the Healthy Weight Cymru social media channels.

Beca Lyne-Pirkis, Health Weight Cymru Ambassador, urged anyone concerned about a decline in their wellbeing in past months to make simple alterations to their lifestyle, including more sleep, being active and eating well.

“It’s not always easy to exercise regularly and eat healthily, and many have found recent lockdowns especially tricky,” said Beca.

“But even small changes can make a big difference to your health and make you feel better too.

“There is lots of information and advice on how to take more exercise, eat better and improve your wellbeing on the NHS 111 Wales Living Well website, so take a look.”

Just over one in five people (22%) in Wales have used lockdown as an opportunity to try new forms of exercise, and three quarters of people (76%) understand exercise is important for their health but do not always want to do it.

Of those people who put on weight the average Welsh gain was 5.5kg or 12lbs per person, rising to 6.1kg or nearly a stone in North Wales.

Rich Blake, a personal trainer and Workplace Resilience and Wellbeing Master Practitioner (WRAW MP) from Dwygyfylchi, near Conwy, has more than 10 years of experience in the sector.

He believes the synergy between mental and physical health is pivotal in helping people to improve their resilience and get in shape.

“From my experience it is important not to create pressure, stress and unrealistic expectations when trying to lose weight, especially after such a tough time for everyone,” said Rich.

“Simple and slow is key, setting small challenges – one thing a week, not 20 – and measuring the results to build confidence.

“For example; Can you drink 3-4 litres of water a day for seven days? As humans, we love to see progress so make sure you record it.

“Once you’re happy you are drinking enough, and you are doing it consistently, you might add in three 30-minute walks a week and go from there.

“If you take things one step at a time it’s surprising how quickly these new habits add up and how much longer they last.”

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