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This week people continue to carry a duality of feelings towards the coronavirus situation. The big picture is worrying, bleak and scary. But positivity can be found in the everyday.

By focussing on daily routines, by rationalising fears, and by putting things into perspective, people are finding positivity and hope in what they can control.

But this duality of emotion is having a profound effect on the nation's mood. Now more so than ever, people are having good days and bad days… motivated days and lazy days… optimistic days and giving in days … ‘today is the day’ days and ‘not today’ days …         

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Against this backdrop, this week we’ve been exploring the role of Health & Fitness.  We’ve been seeking to understand how people feel about it now, what they’ve been doing and what they’re looking for. 

Here are 6 key insights that we’ve been observing this week: 

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1. Exercise has become a perfect antidote for people’s concerns

Exercise is now one of the best parts of people’s days. It helps alleviate so much of what is challenging, worrying and oppressive about lockdown. 

It helps people feel healthy when all around them health is a concern. It connects people and creates community during social distancing. It’s free during a time of money worries. It’s a source of fun amidst boredom and monotony. It provides freedom during lockdown. It feels normal when not much else does. 

This week we’ve seen an overwhelming reliance on and love for exercise as it becomes a crucial focal point of peoples’ new routines. It’s something whole households and individuals can centre their days around and the knock on effect is huge for maintaining a positive mindset.

“I’ve started jogging, I used to hate it, but now it’s the only thing you can do and I’m actually enjoying it. It makes me feel free and it’s a fun part of the day. I also started cycling as well and have borrowed my daughter’s bike.”

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2. We are exercising more now than ever and we don’t intend to give it up 

People are putting the extra time they have in their days towards keeping fit and staying active. 

Home workouts, classes and sessions - from morning PE to daily yoga challenges - that are easy to access and tailor-made for home participation, have become staples of people’s days. The sessions that connect most with people are the ones that attract a big following. There’s a sense of community and ‘joining in with the nation’, which helps people feel closer to one another during social distancing.

Beyond home classes, people have been taking to the streets and parks more than usual to walk, run and cycle, and have been downloading plenty of mobile apps to track and structure their activities. 

People are valuing their new and enhanced focus on exercise. They intend to keep this up when lockdown ends and are on the lookout for all the help they can get to make this happen when the hectic demands of regular life return. 

“I purchased a running tracker on my phone called Strava and got the premium version so that I could track how far I ran and my progress.”

“I’ve been doing an exercise class every morning and a yoga class every evening - I’ve never been this active in my life! I really hope I can stick to it.”

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3. People are looking for more home fitness variation and inspiration 

Whilst plenty of people have found a new frequency of exercise that they’re delighted with, this isn't the case for everyone. 

For those who typically live highly active lives, they’re finding the new reality restricting, frustrating and repetitive. They’re missing their gyms, their physical classes and their social sports. Essentially, their new fitness lives are dull, when they used to be a source of fun and motivation. 

And at the other end of the spectrum, keeping fit and maintaining positivity is hardest for those unable to leave the house (those who are in quarantine, are elderly, or have underlying conditions). 

People have been getting creative with solutions. People have been digging out old ‘learn to ski’ videos, dusting off old bikes and taking part in daily chair exercises. But essentially, people are looking for new solutions. They want some variation, inspiration and motivation. They want exercise to be fun, social and invigorating again …  

“I am also planning to use my ski exercise DVD to exercise my upper body as well.”

“I have some weights which I occasionally lift, but I find it incredibly boring.”

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4. The best of intentions with diet and nutrition 

Everyone keeps telling us that they want to come out of the other side of this fitter and healthier, and we can see a host of good intentions for diet, fitness, and lifestyle. 

People want to smoke less, drink less and snack less, and they’re trying to use this time to shift towards healthier eating habits. We’ve seen people eating more organic, wholesome, home-cooked food, prepared together as a family or household. People are stocking up on fruit & veg and vitamin boosting tablets. We’ve also seen families strive to establish a more traditional three meals per day routine, with less reliance on snacking.  

“A big change for us is switching to three meals per day where the whole family sits down together to eat and, on good days, very little snacking in-between. Previously we’d all be eating at different times because of work, school and other activities, so this has been a really positive change, and one I hope we can try to continue.”

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5. But snacking and alcohol do provide much needed relief and treating   

Whilst people have the best of intentions during this time, housebound life comes with its own temptations and the broader situation can weigh heavy on people’s minds. 

There are days and moments where people want comfort, relief and a treat. Snacking on chocolate biscuits, Easter Eggs, popcorn and alcoholic drinks are some of the small treats people have been turning to during this time, either as spontaneous daily pick-me-ups or part of planned occasions to make the evenings and weekends feel more exciting. What these treats may lack in nutritional value they more than make up for in feel good factor. 

“I also find that it’s getting too easy to have an alcoholic drink every day as it’s a way to forget about what’s going on.”

6. People are relying more on digital wellbeing content to stay relaxed and calm 

Where physical exercise has been a positive for most people, mental wellbeing has been a rockier road. On bad days, people are struggling with a lack of motivation, social isolation, and boredom.  

People have been doing a range of things to help: exercise, outdoor time, jobs around the house, knitting, embroidery, board games and music are some of the things that are helping. 

But we’ve also seen a greater reliance on digital wellbeing services and content to help people stay relaxed, calm, and positive. Meditation audio books, Yoga video streams and relaxing sound music playlists are some of the key digital content services that people are leaning on at this time, and people are on the lookout for anything that can help turn their attention away from the scary big picture and help focus them on the every day and the now. 

“It’s difficult for [my daughter] to be motivated when she doesn’t know what she is supposed to be working towards since university shut down… she will easily pass the day sleeping, watching Netflix and listening to music.”

Look out for our updates next week as we turn our attention to new behaviours and needs within Food & Drink.

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