Our daily lives changed due to the coronavirus pandemic but we start getting out and about again we reveal the behaviours we should stick with – for the sake of our health
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How are you enjoying “freedom” now that many Covid restrictions have lifted?
While we may have picked up a few bad habits in the last 18 months, many of us have built positive new routines too due to having some extra time on our hands.
At the end of the day, being stuck at home brought benefits for many of us.
So now things are looking a little more normal we shouldn’t rush to ditch all those stay-at-home habits – they could be even better for you than you imagine.
Here’s a look at some of the things we picked up in lockdown. And some of things we should carry on doing now it’s over.
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1 Eat well
Around two-thirds of us have vowed to eat more healthily over the past year, according to a survey held by the British Nutrition Foundation.
More than a fifth of adults are now cooking every meal from scratch compared with just one in eight before.
Benefit: Research has linked eating at home with healthier diets, while a US study found people who cook their own meals tend to be slimmer and consume fewer calories.
2 Wheel boost
One in five of us have been cycling regularly during the pandemic, with bike sales booming by 22 per cent, according to research by Mintel.
Benefit: Cycling not only burns off around 500 calories an hour – that’s as much as in a typical burger – but it lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and decreases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
3 Class act
One in five people say they are fitter now than before the pandemic, with a surge in people doing online exercise classes. Some 37 per cent of people who exercise say they have been exercising more, while more than half of us have taken up a new activity.
Benefit: Shorter bursts of intense exercise at home boost the heart, according to a study reported in the American Journal of Health Promotion. Mixing up your regime with new exercises can also boost motivation by 40 per cent, while exploring options of different classes online can help keep things interesting so you stay engaged for longer.
4 Stepping up
Walking has become one of the most popular forms of exercise during the pandemic, with 40 per cent of people now expecting to step out more than before, according to a King’s College London study.
Benefit: Linked to both weight loss and boosting heart health, studies show people who walk at least 20 minutes a day also have fewer sick days, while two hours a week even helps you live longer.
5 Vegging out
A third of us are eating more fruit and veg, according to a report, while one in five people lowered their meat consumption as they had more time to plan meals and get creative in the kitchen.
Benefit: Getting the recommended five-a-day portions of and veg results in people living three years longer than those who don’t, according to a US study.
It also lowers our risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer, as does reducing red meat intake.
6 Hobby days
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A third of us have taken up a new pastime such as gardening and DIY during the pandemic, according to a poll.
Benefit: A study published in the Annals Of Behavioural Medicine found that hobbies lower stress levels, while a poll for The Healthy Work Company found 41 per cent said hobbies had helped their mental health since Covid-19 struck. Research has linked hobbies to reducing dementia risk too.
7 Chat’s better
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While the pandemic has had an impact on the mental health of millions, an LG Electronics poll showed 45 per cent of us are talking to family and friends more now.
Benefit: You might be sick of online quiz nights and video calls, but it’s definitely worth making sure you don’t abandon regular interaction now we can meet up again.
As well as boosting mood, studies have linked being connected with others to keeping our minds sharper.
8 Keep it up
A fifth of men and 15 per cent of women have reported that they have been having more sex during lockdowns according to one survey.
It seems that those in long-term relationships simply needed a little more one-on-one time without distractions to boost their dwindling love lives.
Benefit: Experts have associated regular lovemaking with everything from easing stress and boosting memory to reducing your risk of heart conditions.
There are even possible anti-cancer benefits. Though more research is needed, according to a study in the journal European Urology, men who ejaculate over 21 times per month are 20 per cent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who do it just four to seven times.
9 Pet power
More than three million UK households have invited a new pet into their home since the start of the pandemic, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association.
Benefit: There’s added incentive to look after them when you consider pets are associated with easing symptoms of depression, increasing exercise levels and helping strengthen your immune system.
In fact, simply stroking your pet can lower your blood pressure, thereby reducing risk of heart problems and stroke. There are positive benefits for little ones too – those who grow up in a house with animals are less prone to allergies.
10 Handy habit
Because of Covid-19 safety guidelines we’re typically washing our hands nine times a day – 50 per cent more than before the pandemic.
Benefit: Washing your mitts more than five times a day is associated with a 36 per cent reduction in the risk of getting coronavirus, but the benefits don’t stop there.
The Medical Research Council found it also reduces the chance of getting regular colds and flu too.
So it’s worth washing just to avoid coming down with the sniffles.