This year National Fitness Day is happening at a tipping point for our nation’s health. As we enter our second winter during the pandemic, it has never been more important to help people to stay as active as possible.
Only last week research was published revealing that people seeking NHS help to lose weight during the pandemic are on average five pounds heavier than those starting the programme during the previous three years.
This extra weight, gained as people lived through the COVID pandemic, means people are at higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It is estimated that weight gain of one kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, can increase your risk of diabetes by around 8%. Excess weight is also linked to a greater risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms. You are twice as likely to die from COVID-19 if you live with Type 2 Diabetes.
This is a trend we are seeing on our award winning FIT FANS programme. Men were on average 2.9 kg (6 pounds) heavier before they started the programme this summer (June 2021) than the average starting weight in the winter before the pandemic (January 2020). The same pattern is seen among women. The average weight at the start of the programme has risen by 2.4kg (5 pounds).
FIT FANS works. The 12 week programmes offers guidance and support on eating, drinking, sleeping and being more active in daily life. Our data shows FIT FANS helps people to increase physical activity, reduce sedentary time, leading to weight loss, a significant reduction in blood pressure and improvement in self-reported mental wellbeing measures.
Our average weight loss statistics are really impressive and exceed those of many other programmes. On average women lose 3.31kg and men 5.51kg by the end of the 12 weeks. We also have evidence that weight loss is sustained and continues to increase over the following months after the end of the course.
FIT FANS is now offered by nearly forty clubs across the EFL network. During the pandemic, despite all the restrictions and disruption it has caused, we have supported nearly three thousand people. We are now building on the investment we have received from the National Lottery and more than a dozen local authorities across the country have now chosen to invest in making FIT FANS part of their weight management offer.
National Fitness Day has the potential to inspire but also to deter. For many people the term “fitness” is off putting and conjures images of Lycra clad fitness instructors in exclusive gyms. We understand that, for many football fans, fitness is an elusive state and something they see on the pitch in the stadium but not in the mirror. We believe that fitness is a relative concept and is about being fit for life. That will mean different things to different people. We know that the first steps towards being more active are often the hardest but that every little helps. We have support in place for people who want to make a change.
There’s been a lot of attention given to online initiatives to get people active and they do have their place. However, we remain convinced that bringing people together gives the chance for people to meet people lime them. The support and solutions they give each other are key to making change last.
FIT FANS groups go through the experience together. They encourage and reassure each other and are the better for it. We all need to start somewhere and FIT FANS could be the place for you. With courses starting all over the country this month and again in January, click here for more details.