As COVID-19 cases decline again, many public health restrictions are lifted, and more of life returns to normal, one interesting question for the months and years ahead is how the pandemic will permanently affect people’s habits and lifestyle.
One example is fitness and physical activity. With many gyms, pools, and other recreational facilities closed or operating at limited capacity in 2020, the early COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns that lockdowns would decrease levels of physical activity. One study conducted early in the pandemic found that overall physical activity for adults was significantly lower than prior to the pandemic. Meanwhile, many at-home fitness products and services that boomed during the pandemic now face an uncertain future; while some consumers may be returning to their old gyms, others may simply be losing interest.
The questions of whether and how much people are exercising post-pandemic are important because maintaining adequate levels of physical activity is a key component of individual and public health. Experts have identified a number of benefits associated with a physically active lifestyle, including reduced blood pressure, improved mood and energy levels, and better sleep. Physically active people are at lower risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even some types of cancers. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that a lack of physical activity contributes to 10% of all premature deaths in the U.S.