Quarter of Older Adults in U.K. Less Fit and in More Pain After Lockdown

The physical and mental health of millions of older Brits has deteriorated over the past year of lockdowns, with more than a quarter saying they can no longer walk as far as they used to and almost a fifth feeling less confident leaving the house alone, according to new research.

The Charity Director of Age U.K. says that encouraging older people to remain in their homes, away from their families and from the wider community, has left “deep physical and emotional scars“. The Glasgow Times has the story.

People reported being less steady on their feet, struggling to manage the stairs and feeling less independent since the start of the crisis, according to polling for Age U.K.

Some 27% of adults aged 60 and over said they could no longer walk as far, while 25% said they were in more pain.

It also found evidence of accelerated cognitive decline, with more than a fifth (22%) of respondents saying they were finding it harder to remember things.

The charity fears the adverse effects may prove long-lasting and in some cases be irreversible, heaping pressure on NHS and social care services over the coming years.

Some 1,487 people aged 60 and over in the U.K. were polled by Kantar Polling between January 28th and February 11th, during the third national lockdown.

Extrapolated to the U.K. population, the findings suggest that millions of older people have seen their health decline following multiple lockdowns, social distancing measures, the loss of routines and support and limited access to services.

The charity also found that some people living with a mental health condition saw their symptoms exacerbated, while others were feeling depressed or anxious for the first time.

More than a third (36%) of respondents said they were feeling more anxious since the start of the pandemic, and 43% said they were less motivated to do the things they enjoy. …

People also gave more detail about their struggles through an online survey, which received 14,840 responses.

They spoke of crying daily due to loneliness, feeling like a prisoner and having had their confidence and purpose “sapped”.

Caroline Abrahams, Age U.K.’s Charity Director, said it may take some time for older people to rebuild their confidence, urging people to “keep supporting the older people in your lives”.

She said: “Our research found that earlier this year, immobility, deconditioning, loneliness, and an inability to grieve as normal, were leaving deep physical and emotional scars on a significant proportion of our older population.”

Worth reading in full.

Fitness Chain “Burned About £500,000 per Day” After Losing 12% Of Members Through Lockdown

Fitness chain PureGym suffered pre-tax losses of almost £215 million last year after the forced closure of its sites due to Government-imposed lockdowns. Large parts of the fitness industry fought to remain open during lockdowns with some gyms risking £10,000 fines by refusing to close their doors to customers. Before the second national lockdown, one gym owner said: “We should be doing everything we can to get people healthier and fitter,” adding that “gyms save the NHS”. But venues were forced to close, costing PureGym alone about £500,000 a day. The Mail has the story.

The Leeds-based company registered a massive 40% plunge in revenue during 2020 as gyms were shut for 44% of the year’s trading days. In pre-pandemic 2019, it recorded losses of around £40 million. 

Despite trying to strike a note of optimism after gyms in England reopened on April 12th, Chief Executive Humphrey Cobbold called the company’s trading performance “frankly awful” and “out of hands”. The financial statement exceeds his stated fears of a £120 million loss caused by shutdowns. 

PureGym reported seeing more than a million workouts completed across its 240 gyms in the first week of the roadmap as people try to shed unwanted pounds after being trapped inside for three months.

But in a statement released today, Mr Cobbold called 2020 “a very tough year” and blamed restrictions for “preventing us from trading” and causing “a severe impact on our financial performance”. He previously told the BBC that PureGym was “burning about £500,000 a day” due to “brutal” lockdowns. 

“We had to run a business with zero income for extended periods, a previously unthinkable scenario,” Mr Cobbold admitted today. “We had to make major operational changes in the tightest of time frames and alter our proposition in weeks that would have taken years in normal times.” …

PureGym is one of the biggest losers of the pandemic, with Covid restrictions hammering leisure, hospitality and travel industries hardest. 

Trade organisation ukactive has highlighted the impact of lockdowns on the nation’s health and the fitness industry in particular.

Polling by ukactive and ComRes suggested 42% of UK adults were sitting for at least 14 hours longer per week during lockdown.

A survey by ukactive of its members showed approximately 400 facilities had already been lost during the crisis, while lockdown had resulted in £90 million in lost membership fees each week.

January is normally a key period for new joiners and renewals and usually sees 30% growth.  

Worth reading in full.