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People encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyles

Photo montage of Stefanie Waddington-Gries, Marian Jacques and Myfanwy Taylor

Over a third of Welsh adults (37%) feel that they are generally less healthy now, than before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent YouGov survey.

With almost one in three Welsh adults (30%) reporting that they have gained weight since the start of the pandemic, the Welsh Government’s Help Us Help You campaign is keen to highlight that leading a healthier lifestyle means you are more likely to live longer and less likely to develop serious illnesses and health conditions.  

Of those people who have put on weight, the average Welsh weight gain is 5.5kg or 12lbs per person.

Stefanie Waddington-Gries, who lives in Guilsfield, pulled on her running trainers when she realised she had put on half a stone in weight after the first two months of lockdown:

“I’m not the fittest person but I had started going to exercise classes. When they were forced to close down and I was working from home and home-schooling two young children, I put on some weight.

“I decided enough was enough and I did the Couch to 5k for nine weeks. I lost a stone and dropped a dress size. It was also really good for my mental health as I was stuck in the house all the time and running was some time in the day just for me.”

Also bucking the trend is Tregynon’s Marian Jacques who made some small steps to improve her health and wellbeing during the pandemic. Like Stefanie, she is among the 25% of people in Wales who have been doing more exercise this year and have noticed the positive impact it has had on their weight. The Mum-of-two said:

“In lockdown, we got a new puppy which meant that, come rain or shine, I was walking for an hour every day. I also did some strength exercises at home and I started to eat more healthily. I feel so much better!

“I don’t believe in being really strict on myself so I still have occasional treats but I have been thinking more about nutrition since the start of the pandemic. It’s important we do what we can, especially as parents of young children, to keep ourselves healthy.”

In fact, half of Welsh adults (50%) say that they have made an effort to eat more healthily this year, making the most of the time spent at home which has allowed them to spend more time cooking and eating healthily.

However, more than four out of 10 people (42%) have eaten more unhealthy foods during lockdown as rewards and to cheer themselves up and this rises to 65% of Welsh Gen Z (18-24 year olds).

Beca Lyne-Pirkis, a firm favourite on the Great British Bake Off in 2013, is a Welsh cook and an ambassador for Healthy Weight Cymru. She says:

“It’s not always easy to exercise regularly and eat healthily, and many have found recent lockdowns especially tricky. But even small changes can make a big difference to your health, and can make you feel better too. There is lots of information and advice on how to take more exercise, eat better and improve your wellbeing on the NHS 111 Wales Living Well website.”

Kat Davies from Berriew runs Rikasystemz fitness classes across Montgomeryshire. She has this advice:

“Don’t be put off if you don’t see results straight away. I always encourage my clients to take progress photos every two weeks. After six weeks, compare your first photo with your most recent. Start slowly and gradually build up. My husband was overweight a few years ago and started jogging for just 15 minutes. He built this up to 30 minutes and now he runs half marathons.

“Also don’t worry about being too big to join a class. We have all shapes and sizes, all ages and abilities. Just find an activity you enjoy or try something new to shake things up.”

There are a number of simple and easy-to-achieve lifestyle choices you can make to improve your health and wellbeing including being active and eating well. Just making a few small changes can make a big difference.

Regular exercise has proven health benefits for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy lifestyle, lose weight and improve their fitness level and support their mental well-being. Meanwhile, eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best.

The way you access NHS services has changed but we are still here for you. Get to know the different ways you can access the NHS so you can get the right help by checking online using NHS 111 Wales.

If you want advice on how to take the first steps in your journey to a healthier lifestyle, search NHS 111 Wales for tips and information to help you get started.



  • Doing exercise doesn’t just include sport - hobbies such as gardening or walking provide a great source of physical activity.
  • Physical activity has many short term and long term benefits. For example, doing exercise produces endorphins which make you feel good and can help to improve your mental health.
  • If you are trying to lose weight, aiming to eat less and be more active and eating a healthy, balanced diet will help.
  • To eat a balanced diet, aim to cut down on foods that are high in fat and sugar, and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
  • Don't forget that alcohol is also high in calories, so cutting down alcohol can help control your weight.
  • It’s important to get five portions of fruit and veg a day but don’t forget fresh, canned, dried, juiced and frozen fruit and veg all count - an adult portion of fruit or vegetables is 80g.
  • It takes time for our brains to register we’re full, so try to eat more slowly, so your body has time to realise it’s full.
  • Always eat breakfast, even if you’re trying to lose weight; because by having a healthy breakfast in the morning you are less likely to want to snack before lunch.
  • Eating distractedly, such as in front of the TV, means you are likely to eat more without noticing or even enjoying it, so swap the TV for the table.
  • Don't let yourself get thirsty - we need to drink between six - eight glasses of fluids every day to prevent dehydration; this is in addition to the fluid we get from the food we eat.
  • Try to avoid sugary soft and fizzy drinks because they are high in added sugars and calories, which can lead to weight gain and are also bad for teeth.