Since the Covid-19 Pandemic began in early 2020, everyone’s lives have changed dramatically. The Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention evaluated changes in these behaviors to better understand how our physical activity-related habits shifted. Their findings, published as a Cross-sectional Study of Changes in Physical Activity Behavior During the Covid-19 Pandemic Among U.S. Adults, reveal important information not only about the behaviors of a diverse group of Americans but also about how the fitness industry can change its approach to better serve people who it may not currently be reaching and who may benefit from health education.

All health coaches and exercise specialists are well aware of the numerous benefits that physical activity brings, ranging from improved mental health to lower risk of a variety of chronic ailments such as heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and some malignancies.

So, how do COVID and the statistics presented above intersect with these advantages?

Unfortunately, strategies critical to preventing, or at least managing, the spread of Covid-19 Pandemic, such as stay-at-home orders, mask mandates, social distancing guidelines, and the closure of schools and businesses may have had the unintended consequence of exacerbating existing health disparities, as our most vulnerable communities became even less likely to be physically active and, therefore, less likely to be physically active.

One of the most important advantages of physical activity is that it promotes a strong immune system, which may help people not only avoid illnesses like COVID but also prevent extreme results such as hospitalization and death. Physical activity and overall health may reduce the risk of several lifestyle diseases, including those listed above, and can be an important part of the fight against COVID, which disproportionately affects individuals with underlying medical disorders. Finally, a healthier population that also follows public health principles like social separation and mask wearing is better positioned to fight current and future pandemics.

What This Means to Health Coaches and Exercise Professionals

This type of research should enhance the fitness industry’s desire to reach out to individuals in novel and creative ways. For example, if you reside in a mostly Black town, you are more likely to have noticed a negative influence on your physical activity levels and be more likely to do the majority of your activity inside your home.

Community-based and in-home programs, as well as group exercise classes at houses of worship and free educational talks at community events, are excellent prospective possibilities. It is critical to meet individuals where they are, not only in their health journeys but also literally.

“All people, regardless of age, ethnicity, education, socioeconomic status, handicap status, sexual orientation, or geographic location, should have access to safe and convenient opportunities to be physically active,” according to the DNPAO. This will necessitate cross-sector collaboration in areas such as public health, transportation, planning, business, healthcare, and parks and recreation.” Health coaches and fitness experts may play an important part in this collaboration by providing evidence-based and practical solutions to a wide range of groups.

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