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Lifestyles, Love Handles And Silver Linings

South Africans love being outdoors whether it’s hiking, walking, swimming or running. This is why the national lockdown had such a dramatic effect on so many of our lives, emotionally, mentally, but mostly physically.




To understand more about this, Game Stores, which recently expanded its range of health and wellness products, conducted an online survey to find out just how much the lockdown impacted our waistlines and our behaviour towards looking after ourselves during this period.

Around 1 200 participants from across South Africa were surveyed. They consisted of 79.5% female and 20.5% male, ranging in ages from 18 – 50+. 78% of respondents came from the three major provinces: Gauteng, Western Cape and KZN. The results have been made available as we observe two poignant dates on the national calendar: National Nutrition Week (9 – 15 October) and Obesity Week (15 – 19 October). Both serve to remind us about the importance of healthy eating.

“Lockdown was hard on all of us, especially our bodies and minds,” says Katherine Madley, Vice President of Marketing at Game. “We wanted to better understand how South Africans coped with the changes the lockdown made to our lifestyles, and then offer ways to help them overcome their challenges by making health and wellness more accessible. This could be fitness-specific, or slimming, toning, strength or mind and body.”


Katherine Madley, Vice President of Marketing at Game

Turning over a new leaf

Among topline results, the survey found that encouragingly many people were determined to use lockdown as a time to take back control and reset their lives. Some (59%) even saw it as an opportunity to learn something new, start a business or a side hustle or, like a third of the sample (32%), lose weight. If they weren’t baking banana bread or sewing masks, they were running around the garden, some even running marathon distances.

Others (12%) decided to DIY and declutter their homes, bond with their family, read 10 books, finish high school, start a new hobby like a kitchen garden, quit smoking or get a job. A few also indicated that they had no goals and wanted to remain in their usual work routines while others aimed to re-evaluate their current situations and find new ways to make money.

Lockdown love handles

Despite their good intentions, the reality of lockdown was that a staggering half of the total sample ended up gaining weight despite the intentions of 32% wanting to lose it, and only 17% achieved this goal. The majority of those who gained weight ended up gaining a substantial amount with 62% gaining between 3 – 6kg. One respondent even said they gained a whopping 18kg. This while 61% of the 32% who intended to lose weight going into lockdown ended up gaining weight instead.

In terms of diets and eating, 39% claimed to eat the same as before lockdown and unsurprisingly, there is a strong link between eating habits and weight loss and gain. 59% admitted to binge-watching their favourite series through lockdown.




Light at the end of the tunnel

The survey findings show that achieving weight loss goals, diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. Those respondents who gained weight, but didn’t change their eating habits were of the 57% who weren’t doing any exercise. While lockdown was a challenging experience for many there a few silver linings. Overall, respondents felt like they had taken steps in the right direction in terms of making changes and achieving goals – despite being confined to their homes. One of the most positive findings was that most people found they had a chance to focus on themselves and their families.

There is clear evidence that South Africans do see the benefit of living a healthier lifestyle. With summer on our doorsteps, there is no better time to say goodbye to the lockdown love handles than now, which is why Game has launched its #GameOn #UnbeatableYou Challenge. It is a hub of free content made available over four weeks and produced in partnership with fitness expert Kelly Dorrington, Pilates instructor Tercia Amsterdam, Yoga guru Shaun Gunter and dietician Mbali Mapholi. It can be accessed here.