Life expectancy drop due to less 'steps' during lockdown - Vitality

First two weeks of pandemic

Adam Saville
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Life expectancy drop due to less 'steps' during lockdown - Vitality

Vitality data shows member life expectancy falling by an average of nearly four months

A drop in physical activity levels during the Covid-19 lockdown period has reduced life expectancy, data from Vitality has suggested.

Tracking data from its 1.3 million members showed that life expectancy fell by an average of almost four months (3.8) during the start of the pandemic.

The data showed 28% fewer physical events, such as cardio sessions, daily step counts and gym workouts, during a two week period, from 16 to 26 March, compared to the 10 weeks period of 6 January to 15 March.

Most prominently this was driven by significant reductions in the number of members achieving daily step goals of 7,000, 10,000 or 12,500 while people stayed at home, Vitality said.

Those suffering from poor general health saw a greater drop in life expectancy - of five months on average - while those already fit and healthy saw it drop by just 2.4 months, according to Vitality data.

However, as lockdown measures have eased (1 June to 28 June), cardio sessions have been 45% higher than before lockdown as people kickstarted exercise routines.

Finding balance

Dr Keith Klintworth, managing director of VitalityHealth said: "This research highlights the significant impact a reduction in activity has on our life expectancy and a reminder that we all need to look at how we can include exercise into our lives. Covid-19 has undoubtedly had a massive impact on our lives, with many people struggling to balance working from home, managing childcare or other responsibilities, alongside keeping active. Plus, for many people, the pandemic has removed some of the incidental exercise they may have got from walking to the station or going out to grab lunch, or being able to do a gym class before work, or in their lunch break.

"With gyms reopening, some people will find it is easier to plan exercise into their lives, but whether it is a gym class, an online workout or walk around the block at lunch, the virus Covid-19 should be a reminder that we must all find time to prioritise our health and wellbeing."

The insurer introduced Vitality at Home to support members while in lockdown. As part of the programme, members have been given access to online home workout programmes through Peloton and Jennis and the option to have their annual health check at home.

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