Diabetes warning in coronavirus fight sparks drive to improve health and fitness levels

Cycling has become a popular way to exercise during lockdown Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ ISTOCKPHOTO/ GZO

Cycling has become a popular way to exercise during lockdown Picture: GETTY IMAGES/ ISTOCKPHOTO/ GZORGZ - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Shocking statistics show that a quarter of Covid-19 patients who died in hospitals had diabetes - so what is happening in Suffolk to keep people fit and healthy?

Prime minister Boris Johnson is said to be drawing up plans to improve obesity levels following the publication of the figures, with other research finding that obesity doubles the risk of needing hospital treatment for coronavirus.

Some health experts say losing weight will not directly stop the virus - but protecting our health long-term remains important to reduce risks and complications the disease may cause.

In Suffolk, the county council has been encouraging people to keep exercising with the Keep Suffolk Moving campaign, which was launched in April.

The campaign aims is to inspire and encourage people to stay active, move or move more by sharing ideas, tips, useful links and positive stories.

A month and an half in, the council said the campaign had been well-received and called on the public to keep going.

James Reeder, cabinet member for public health and prevention at SCC, said: “The campaign has been enthusiastically welcomed by individuals and organisations across the county who have recognised the importance of being active during the coronavirus outbreak.

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“Once lockdown was in place we moved very quickly to launch the campaign knowing how important exercise would be in the circumstances we found ourselves in.

“As this remains the case, for anybody looking for ideas to become or remain active, the Keep Moving Suffolk website is an invaluable source of information and inspiration.

“The key message is some exercise is good, more is better. I myself have been hula hooping to keep fit. I’m now up to 50 in one go.”

Dr Craig Sheridan, a doctor at Ipswich Hospital and Keep Suffolk Moving supporter, said: “Improvements in our cardiorespiratory health can also occur within a few weeks of commencing regular moderate-intensity exercise and regular physical activity reduces the risks and complications of many diseases, which may complicate Covid-19 infection.”

Keeping Fit

Sport England has issued a number of tips to keep you moving during lockdown.

1. Move more by making small changes - making small changes to your routine, by including small bursts of activity across your day, all add up and help you move more.

2. Choose activities you enjoy - doing something that you enjoy means you’re far more likely to keep doing it.

3. Set goals and make a plan - it doesn’t have to be a fully-fledged personal training programme, but just focusing on what you want to do a bit more of, or less of, each day can make a difference.

4. Start slowly and build up gradually - if you start slow and gradually increase the length and intensity of your activity over time, then you can help to avoid soreness.

5. Pace yourself and listen to your body - only do what feels comfortable for you, particularly if you have a health condition.

6. Build new habits - repeat the bits you enjoy daily and keep trying new activities that inspire and motivate you.

7. Get outdoors - whether it’s your surrounding area, a park or your garden, getting outdoors can boost your mood and reduce anxiety – providing you’re doing so within the government guidelines.

8. Wear something comfortable - you don’t need special kit or equipment, but you do need to be comfortable.

9. Stay hydrated - drink plenty of water before, during and after activities to help your body stay healthy.

Ditching the sugar

Last September, the county council also launched the Suffolk How Are You? campaign with Public Health Suffolk and the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioing Group (CCG) to help people eat better.

As part of this, the campaign offered advice on to people on how to eat healthier through “sugar swaps”.

For example, instead of eating a chocolate bar, a handful of Brazil nuts can provide a good snack with a fraction of the sugar.

Wholegrain cereals or porridge can provide a less sugary start to the day than some off the shelf brands.

Ditching the fizzy drinks may seem like an obvious change, but water or sugar free fruit squashes can quench your thirst without you consuming extra sugar.

Even simpler still, many products offer sugar free variants these days which are just as easy to buy from supermarket shelves.

More food swaps and advice can be found on the Suffolk How Are You website, www.suffolkhowareyou.co.uk

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