Restrictions making Kiwis less active

It is time to get off the couch and put one foot in front of the other.

Research conducted by Sport NZ shows the average adult in New Zealand is doing just under an hour less exercise a week than a year ago.

The research was carried out before, during and after the Alert Level 4 lockdown, so the resulting information shows the impact Covid-19 has had on levels of physical activity.

During June, adults spent an average of 4.52 hours per week being physically active.

That average level of activity was down on 5.40 hours for a normal June (2017-19) and lower than the 5.61 hours during April when New Zealand was in Alert Level 4 lockdown.

Those aged 5-17 were doing even worse.

That age group averaged 8.20 hours per week in June, which was up slightly from 8.14 hours in April but much lower than 9.70 hours in a normal June.

Sport NZ community sport general manager Geoff Barry said daylight saving was the ideal time to turn things around.

“It’s clear Covid-19 has disrupted people’s habits when it comes to being physically active and that’s something we need to learn from with the prospect of moving up and down in alert levels, particularly the restrictions recently experienced in Auckland.’’

“During Level 4 lockdown, adults turned to simple activities like walking, running and cycling to raise their activity levels. That serves as a reminder of how simple being active can be. If sports and events are cancelled, or there are restrictions on gyms and studios, there are still a host of enjoyable and accessible ways to remain physically active.’’

While adult activity levels rose during Level 4, those of younger people dropped through the absence of PE and organised sport, as well as being isolated from their friends. Come June, activity levels of both groups were then down on a normal June, with Sport NZ research identifying the key barriers to participation.

“One in five adults are telling us that being out of the habit is preventing them from being active. That’s not a result we’d normally see and suggests the extent to which the impacts of Covid-19 have disrupted people’s routine.

"Lack of energy (26%) and motivation (22%) are two of the top barriers for young people, and both are higher than in a normal June. Again, this suggests a lingering effect of Covid-19 on physical activity.

“We believe the secret to breaking down these barriers is to draw motivation from getting back into the habit of being active, and to do this in new and simple ways if your favourite activities are not available."

He said the arrival of daylight saving was the perfect time to get moving.


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