The nation could face a collapse in its health and leisure infrastructure, the industry has warned, as swimming pools and gyms were allowed to open their doors with the latest easing of the lockdown measures.
Nearly 20% of swimming pools in England open on Saturdays, according to the head of the national swimming governing body, and thousands may close their stores unless the government intervenes.
Jane Nickerson, Swim England’s general manager, said that even before Covid-19 hit, 40% of the country’s aging pool stock was closed before the end of the decade.
She said that many local facilities have had no support at all in the past three months.
Ms. Nickerson told Radio 4’s Today program: “We know that each pool delivers about £ 7.2 million in community benefits – in social cohesion, crime prevention, training and health benefits.
“So a little support from the government will pay for itself in a few months.
“It’s not like it’s asking for money that just gets thrown out – tackling the pool health and obesity crisis actually saves a lot of money.”
She added, “One of our biggest, biggest fears is that this year there will be a lost generation of kids who aren’t learning to swim.”
Ms Nickerson’s fear is shared by Community Leisure UK, the members’ association specializing in representing leisure and culture charities in England, Scotland and Wales.
It is estimated that as many as 1,300 public leisure facilities could disappear by the end of the year, along with more than 58,000 jobs.
The gloomy predictions came when enthusiastic gymgoers worked up a sweat on Saturday morning.
Fitness chain David Lloyd clubs opened its branch in Hampton, Twickenham, at exactly midnight on Saturday to hold the first indoor class after closing.
In addition to the opportunity to participate in a “Blitz” HIIT (high-intensity interval training) class, those who had queued patiently were also given a free hand of the facilities in the early morning hours.
Elsewhere, the Aquabatics blackened swim team was happy to be back in the water at the London Aquatic Center at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
So good to be back
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On Friday, the government revealed it is preparing plans to tackle obesity as part of its strategy to minimize the impact of future waves of Covid-19.
It said it would reveal its obesity strategy “very quickly” after a Public Health England (PHE) review identified a dramatic increase in the risk of hospitalization and death from coronavirus.
It marks a turning point for Boris Johnson, who until recently was an outspoken opponent of “sin taxes” and was viewed by the state as “nannies”.
Expected new measures include banning advertising of junk food on television before the 9 p.m. catchment area and banning it completely online.
Other headline announcements include restrictions on sweet snack and restaurant promotions and takeaways that are forced to publish the number of calories of the food they serve.
The new commitment to tackle obesity comes just a year after the Prime Minister vows to review “sin tax”, such as the proposal to extend the sugar tax to milkshakes.
He admitted his own experience with Covid-19, which led to his being admitted to intensive care in April, and convinced him of the need for change.
The study concluded that overweight people, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9, have a higher risk of hospitalization and poor outcomes when given coronavirus.
Experts also found that having a BMI of 35 to 40 increases the risk of coronavirus death by 40%, while a BMI above 40 almost doubles the risk compared to people of healthy weight.
The report said being overweight or obese increases the likelihood of someone getting seriously ill in intensive care, with 7.9% of critically ill patients with Covid-19 in intensive care units having a BMI over 40 compared to 2, 9% of the general population.
On Friday, the prime minister said he had lost more than a stone since his battle with Covid-19.
The PHE study found sales of snacks and alcohol supermarkets increased, possibly due to the fact that shops, pubs and cafes were closed during closure and people turned to snacking and drinking at home.
During the first six months of this year, alcohol sales rose 30% from the same period last year, confectionery sales rose 20%, and sweet home food foods rose 22%, according to the PHE report .
Meanwhile, a survey of more than 2,000 people for the Food Standards Agency in May found that people cooked more from the start – but also more often craved cakes, cookies, candies and savory snacks.
Dr. Alison Tedstone, lead nutritionist at PHE, said, “There has never been so much advocacy for action against obesity.”