With almost one in three (29%) of Welsh adults in the area served by the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board reporting that they have gained weight since the start of the pandemic, the Welsh Government’s Help Us Help You campaign is keen to highlight that leading a healthier lifestyle means you are more likely to live longer and less likely to develop serious illnesses and health conditions.
Of those people who have put on weight, the average weight gain in the area is 5.8kg or 12.7lbs per person. This comes as 65% of respondents said they did not feel they had done more exercise during lockdown.
Emma Croke, who lives in Newport, grew wary of the dangers of not leading a healthy lifestyle and got back into a fitness regime after a break at the start of lockdown:
“The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way I thought about exercise. Working from home and losing a lot of the daily routine I had gotten so used to meant that I had to make more of an effort to exercise from home while I waited for gyms to reopen. I had taken for granted the amount of exercise I got just from walking more and being able to exercise outdoors for long periods of time.
“During the lockdowns, I got back into running and focussed more on healthier eating, which made me feel like I had more control over my lifestyle in spite of the effects of the pandemic. Once gyms reopened, I began attending various fitness classes and now feel like I have the best of both worlds and I am able to stay fit and healthy whatever the circumstances.
“I also feel more in control of my diet, as the additional time spent at home meant I could spend more time cooking healthier meals rather than grabbing a quick, convenient bite when my day-to-day life was much busier. This habit has stuck even as things have returned to more normality.”
In fact, half of all Welsh adults (50%) say that they have tried to eat more healthily this year.
However, more than four out of 10 people (42%) have eaten more unhealthy foods during lockdown as rewards and to cheer themselves up and this rises to 65% of Welsh Gen Z (18-24 year olds).
Beca Lyne-Pirkis, a firm favourite on the Great British Bake Off in 2013, is a Welsh cook and an ambassador for Healthy Weight Cymru. She says:
“It’s not always easy to exercise regularly and eat healthily, and many have found recent lockdowns especially tricky. But even small changes can make a big difference to your health, and can 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 Living and Feeling Well pages on the NHS 111 Wales website.”
There are a number of simple and easy-to-achieve lifestyle choices you can make to improve your health and wellbeing including being active and eating well. Just making a few small changes can make a big difference.
Regular exercise has proven health benefits for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle, lose weight and improve their fitness level and support their mental well-being. Meanwhile, eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best.
The way you access NHS services has changed but we are still here for you. Get to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can get the right help by checking online using NHS 111 Wales.
If you want advice on how to take the first steps in your journey to a healthier lifestyle, go to the Living and Feeling Well pages on the NHS 111 Wales website.
TOP TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH:
- If you are trying to lose weight, aiming to eat less and be more active and eating a healthy, balanced diet will help.
- To eat a balanced diet, aim to cut down on foods that are high in fat and sugar, and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Don’t forget that alcohol is also high in calories, so cutting down alcohol can help control your weight.
- It’s important to get five portions of fruit and veg a day but don’t forget fresh, canned, dried, juiced and frozen fruit and veg all count – an adult portion of fruit or vegetables is 80g.
- It takes time for our brains to register we’re full, so try to eat more slowly, so your body has time to realise it’s full.
- Always eat breakfast, even if you’re trying to lose weight; because by having a healthy breakfast in the morning you are less likely to want to snack before lunch.
- Eating distractedly, such as in front of the TV, means you are likely to eat more without noticing or even enjoying it, so swap the TV for the table.
- Don’t let yourself get thirsty – we need to drink between six – eight glasses of fluids every day to prevent dehydration; this is in addition to the fluid we get from the food we eat.
- Try to avoid sugary soft and fizzy drinks because they are high in added sugars and calories, which can lead to weight gain and are also bad for teeth.