Published Monday, 01 March 2021
As we head towards a year since the first Covid-19 lockdown, Coventry City Council and health and care partner are encouraging residents not to give up on improving their physical health.
The ongoing pandemic has altered our daily routines and for many of us, with extra time at home and self-isolation, our eating habits and activity levels may have also changed, especially as we are now in the third national lockdown.
For many, the past year has been a wake-up call, with people realising how precious their health is and recognising that it is time to get back on track. People have also been surprised by how able they have been to change their behaviour, with lockdown showing many that they are able to make and sustain changes to their lives.
Spring is also just around the corner and for many, the start of the season feels like the real ‘new year’. Many find this time of year to be a motivator for change, as the sunshine, longer days and return of warmer weather tends to reenergize us and inspire action. That is why residents are being encouraged to make small, regular and manageable changes towards a healthier lifestyle now.
Top tips for a healthier start to Spring
- Move more and sit less – Get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week, plus muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week. Some people find exercise resolutions easier to stick to in March, April and May.
- Eat a healthy diet – Make healthy food choices like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.
- Stay hydrated – Substitute water for sugary or alcoholic drinks to
reduce calories and keep your body functioning well
- Quit smoking – Coventry Healthy Lifestyle Service offers free support, one-to-one coaching and free nicotine replacement therapy. The NHS smokefree app also shows you how much you’re saving and can help distract you with motivating tips when cravings strike.
- Get enough sleep – Adults need at least 7 hours of sleep at night. Regular poor sleep can put you at risk of medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes – and shortens your life expectancy. If you’re having sleep problems, Every Mind Matters offers some simple steps you can take to sleep better.
- Keep up to date with vaccinations – Vaccines are our best defence against the coronavirus. Vaccines are designed to prevent people from getting serious infectious diseases. It is much safer for your immune system to learn how to fight illnesses through vaccination than by catching and treating them. The NHS will contact you and let you know when it’s your turn to have the Covid-19 vaccine so please help protect yourself and those around you.
- Vitamins – During spring it is important to consume vitamins that will keep you healthy. Supplements including vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin D and vitamin E supports the immune system and organ function as well as protection against sun damage as the weather warms up. With more people staying indoors during the pandemic, some may have been deprived of vitamin D. The NHS says people should consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D a day if they are spending a lot of time indoors. Before the pandemic, people in the UK were already advised to consider taking supplements from October to March. Public Health England recommends vitamin D throughout the year if:
- you are not often outdoors
- you live in a care home
- you usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outside
- People with dark skin may also not be getting enough, even if they spend time outdoors, and should consider an all-year-round supplement.”
Despite living with the pandemic and restrictions for over a year, it is important to remember we can still make a difference and when it comes to physical activity. The guidelines allow for exercising outside and of course we can all be active within our homes and there are tips and guides on physical activity and a balanced diet that is achievable at home can help everyone stay healthy.
Evidence suggests that individuals who are overweight or obese are at increased risk of serious health consequences including COVID-19 complications, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and death making it more difficult to fight diseases. 63% of adults in Coventry were classified as overweight or obese in 2018/19.
61% of adults in Coventry are physically active – doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week – as compared the national average of 67%.
Whilst 91% of surveyed adults in Coventry in 2018 agreed it was important to them to eat healthy foods, only 25% of adults self-reported to consume at least five portions of fruits or vegetables in a typical day.
Smoking can lead to increased risk of contracting respiratory infection and is one of the biggest threats to health in Coventry. Data from the 2018 Household Survey suggests that 18% of Coventry’s population over the age of 16 smoke, compared with the national average of 17%.
Cllr Kamran Caan, portfolio holder for Public Health and Sport at Coventry City Council said: “For many the spring season is an opportunity to get back on track and take ownership of our health and make it a priority as things start to look and feel brighter.
“That’s why this time of year is a great time to commit to making changes towards a healthier lifestyle and I would encourage all residents to give some thought to their long-term health this spring and reflect on what you want to achieve when making a pledge for the Coventry Health Challenge.
“Eating a healthy diet, getting active, quitting smoking and keeping up to date with vaccinations, such as the Covid-19 vaccine are just a few, but effective steps that will really boost our resistance to any future diseases.
“The Coventry Health Challenge is here to encourage and support you with advice, tips and signposting to services like HLS Coventry to keep you motivated and on track.
“We can all do our bit to stay fit and healthy, to help protect us from coronavirus complications and alleviate pressure from the NHS. If you haven’t already been involved with the Coventry Health Challenge, don’t delay taking steps to improve your health for your future self.”
Calvin Holman, service director at Healthy Lifestyles Coventry, said: “We know that Spring is a good time of year for many to either restart New Year Resolutions or set new personal goals. Simple steps, eating plenty of fruit and veg, portion control, meal planning, building more physical activity into your life and quitting smoking can really help towards living a longer and healthier life.
“Our service is free and you can receive support from the comfort of your home. Our coaches will work with you on a one to one basis – over the phone at 0800 122 3780, texts or through video chat. We can also provide access to nicotine replacement therapy if you need to support on a stop smoking journey.
“Now is a great time to make healthier eating, drinking and general lifestyle choices for the future, and we’re here to help people do that when they’re ready to make that move.”
Find out more about the Coventry Health Challenge campaign, or download a Physical Activity booklet, or a printable Goal Tracker to record progress. Residents are also be encouraged to make a pledge and commit to just one thing for the campaign as part of prioritising their physical health, setting goals for themselves and staying resilient this winter.
You also can read stories from fellow Coventry residents who have made lifestyle changes and improved their long-term health.