Gym & leisure centre closures pose threat to nations health

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The nation’s health is under “major threat” following the closure of leisure centres and gyms, a fitness industry trade body has warned.

UK Active, a non-profit organisation for the physical activity sector, has said that the closure of these “essential services” as part of new measures announced by Boris Johnson to stem the spread of coronavirus represents a major blow to individual wellbeing.

The group says that 7,200 facilities, including gyms and swimming pools, have been forced to close due to the third lockdown.

Chief executive Huw Edwards said that the government “urgently” needs to deliver a “credible plan” to keep people active, saying the closure of facilities threatened “our nation’s health, and resilience to conditions including COVID-19, obesity and some cancers.”

The mental and physical benefits of exercise are well known.

According to the NHS, exercise can reduce the risk of major illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer by up to 50 per cent, and lower the risk of early death by up to 30 per cent.

The current lockdown rules across the UK stipulate that people must stay at home, only leaving for essential reasons or to exercise.

The group said that the cost to operators based on lost membership fees, despite furlough, business rate support and grants, is estimated to be around £90m per week.

Edwards described the Chancellor’s financial support as a “sticking plaster” and said: “The government must protect this sector as a priority, before it becomes too late.”

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