I have been living in Sweden for 12 years now, working “remotely” for PIN long before it became fashionable, or indeed a necessity. While “lockdown” is a swear word over here that you really should whisper, (the restaurants and cafes have been busy all year and I am still yet to see a single person wearing a face mask), there has really only been one change that I have noticed here since the emergence of the coronavirus. I walk my dog every evening after dinner and in the summer months I usually encounter about half a dozen walkers or joggers on my local forest track. However, this summer that number has jumped to more than 50 every evening - many walkers in their senior years, joggers pushing themselves to run a bit faster than they normally do and a definite increase in adults riding bikes. Based on many conversations with family, friends and business in the UK, it seems the same behaviour has been occurring across towns and cities in the UK.
COVID-19 has thrust “healthy living” upon society this year like an overenthusiastic personal trainer, demanding that we take a long, hard look at what we weigh (most of us have checked our BMI this year to see if we are overweight), whether we should quit smoking to give our lungs a fighting chance, cut down on alcohol consumption to give our liver a fighting chance, eat less sugar (could we be pre-diabetic and would the virus punish us for our sweet teeth?), and last but not least, convincing ourselves that we should be exercising a lot more…but definitely not inside a crowded gym!
The benefits of exercise are clear, especially if you are of the opinion that we are all going to catch this coronavirus eventually. According to the Department of Health, a person who is active every day (20 minutes per day of walking or cycling for example) reduces the chance of developing heart disease by 20-35% and also reduces the chance of developing type 2 diabetes by 35-50%, the two most common comorbidities associated with severe complications if infected with COVID-19.
As the rest of Europe slowly emerges from lockdown there is another burning question that workers are now asking themselves, “how am I going to commute to work?” Fears of getting onto packed trains, buses and tubes while the pandemic is still ultimately in its early stages are more than understandable, and the clear beneficiary of all of this fear has been the bicycle industry.
Bicycles are the ideal mode of transportation as cities emerge from quarantine, made even more appealing now that summer is here. They’re fast, comfortable, convenient, and allow you to socially distance while being active. It is no surprise then that bike sales have soared globally this year and the UK is no exception. Many stores have completely sold out of bikes and as soon as more are delivered to a retailer they are usually sold immediately to those at the top of the waiting list. Sales of bikes in the UK have doubled this year and even repair shops are booming.