HCM November 2020

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ED ITO R’ S LE T TER

We are essential The science shows being fit mitigates against COVID-19. We’ve proven we can operate safely under the SAGE COVID-secure Framework. Time to join it up by securing essential service status

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e want to see the UK government reclassifying gyms, leisure centres and PTs as an essential service, so they can stay open to save lives and help people fight and recover from COVID-19. Research shows exercise protects against the virus by keeping body fat under control and increasing levels of extracellular superoxide dismutase (ecSOD) in the body. This bathes the organs and cells in a protein which protects them against COVID-19 and other pathogens. As a result, people who exercise are less likely to be hospitalised with the virus; if they’re hospitalised, they’re less likely to need to be ventilated; and if they need to be ventilated they’re less likely to die. Being fit also increases the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines. These are three of the multitude of physical and mental health benefits which come from enabling people to keep fit – something that comes at no cost to the exchequer. We’re calling on the government to keep gyms and leisure centres open and to encourage people to exercise, with a Work out to Help out scheme, so we can fight the virus and ensure the success of the vaccination programme. The idea of essential service status was first proposed in October by Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive and would see gyms and leisure centres placed in the same category as things such as supermarkets, banks and chemists. On page 45 of this issue of HCM, policymakers make the case to government for essential service status, with professor Greg Whyte, chair of the ukactive Scientific Advisory Board, arguing that the sector is already fulfilling this role, citing – for example – that 66 per cent of the nation’s cancer rehab and prehab services are delivered in gyms and leisure centres by Level 4 staff. Getting essential service recognition for our sector must be our number one priority, with the industry continuing to unite to fight for this at every level. The fitness industry has proven it’s COVID-secure and can operate without community transmission by adhering to the SAGE-approved framework for safe operations which was agreed with government through ukactive.

Boris Johnson has benefitted from the fitness industry

Being fit increases the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, so we’re calling on the government to keep gyms open and encourage exercise Gyms and leisure centres should not have been forced to close during second lockdown and they must not be closed again. It’s time the government looked at the science and let operators continue their valuable work supporting the NHS and enabling people to exercise their fundamental human right to self-care. Boris Johnson benefitted from the power of the fitness industry in his post-COVID recovery, and it’s vital this option is extended to everyone, not just the elite. The pandemic is revealing awful levels of deprivation in some parts of the UK and our sector is one of the solutions. Liz Terry, editor lizterry@leisuremedia.com

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©Cybertrek 2020 November 2020

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