ALMOST half of people in Wales ate more unhealthily in lockdown to cheer themselves up.
A report by YouGov in support of the Welsh Government’s Help Us, Help You campaign also revealed more than a third of 1,000 people surveyed nationwide had put on weight, with 10% gaining 1.5 stone or more.
And a staggering 65% admitted to doing less exercise during the pandemic, despite 77% wishing they had done more while in self-isolation.
Medical chiefs are urging people to access the vast range of resources and support available to them in a bid to reverse the trend and combat potential serious illness and conditions such as obesity and heart problems.
If you want advice on how to take the first steps in your journey to a healthier lifestyle, go to the Living and Feeling Well pages on the NHS 111 Wales website.
TV presenter and cookery writer Beca Lyne-Pirkis – a Healthy Weight Cymru Ambassador – urged anyone concerned about a decline in their wellbeing in past months to make simple alterations to their lifestyle, including more sleep, being active and eating well.
“It’s not always easy to exercise regularly and eat healthily, and many have found recent lockdowns especially tricky,” said Beca.
“But even small changes can make a big difference to your health and make you feel better too.
“There is lots of information and advice on how to take more exercise, eat better and improve your wellbeing on the Living and Feeling Well pages on the NHS 111 Wales website.”
Of those people who put on weight the average Welsh gain was 5.5kg or 12lbs per person, rising to 6.1kg or nearly a stone in North Wales.
Rich Blake, a personal trainer and Workplace Resilience and Wellbeing Master Practitioner (WRAW MP) from Dwygyfylchi, near Conwy, believes the synergy between mental and physical health is pivotal in helping people to improve their resilience and get in shape.
“From my experience it is important not to create pressure, stress and unrealistic expectations when trying to lose weight, especially after such a tough time for everyone,” said Rich.
“Simple and slow is key, setting small challenges – one thing a week, not 20 – and measuring the results to build confidence.
“If you take things one step at a time it’s surprising how quickly new habits add up and how much longer they last.”
One person who took that advice was Ali Yates, an Operations and Programme Manager for Sport Wales, based at Plas Menai Watersports Centre, Caernarfon.
An outdoor instructor for more than 20 years, Ali had struggled with her weight going into lockdown in 2020 and her new desk-based role limited time previously spent being active.
Now aged 45, she lost a stone during lockdown and is aiming to shed more after exercising more during the pandemic, notably cycling and stand-up paddleboarding.
“I realised lockdown could go one way or the other. I could either eat too much, drink too much and put on a stone. Or I could use the time as a good opportunity to get fitter and lose a stone – I chose the latter,” said Ali.
For more information and advice, visit www.111.wales.nhs.uk/LiveWell.
Please use the hashtags #HelpuNiHelpuChi and #HelpUsHelpYou to support the Help Us, Help You campaign.