In the post COVID-19 era, fitness and health is more important than ever. In the wake of shut-downs and facing an uncertain future, many people have concerns about managing their physical and mental health in addition to the daily demands of modern life.
Increasing Awareness of Health
Being under lockdown has forced many people to consider the impact of ‘staying in place’ on their mental as well as physical health. There is growing attention being paid to managing personal health and fitness in spite of routine changes, additional demands of family or work, or loss of income. With less travel and greater proximity to the fridge, many people have concerns about gaining weight and losing fitness during this period.
Link between Visceral Fat and Chronic Disease
Scientists are confident that visceral fat and chronic disease are closely linked. Visceral fat, which surrounds the vital organs, has been related to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes1. There’s also evidence that people with high levels of visceral fat are at more risk from contagious diseases2 and further health complications.
Role of Gyms in Long Term Health
The rising level of awareness about the importance of maintaining a fitness and health routine is both a wake up call and an opportunity for gyms. Instead of focusing on aesthetics or short-lived challenges, gyms can play a part in encouraging people to be more active, more often to address or pre-empt lifestyle-related diseases and improve resistance to contagious illnesses.
Physical activity and exercise have been proven as effective therapies for chronic diseases3 and contributing towards good mental health4. Exercise may even improve resistance to some contagious diseases56. Regular physical activity does not just help control fat levels, it also builds skeletal muscle strength and contributes towards cardiovascular health.
Exercise also impacts the hormones within our bodies that influence our moods and to some extent, our thoughts. Regular moderate exercise has been shown to reduces stress and low moods, and to improves sleep quality7. Feeling strong and being able to do what you want to do, or couldn’t do before, is also great for improving self esteem, low levels of which is often a contributing factor in depression or anxiety.
Making body composition scans mandatory
In spite of the strong link between visceral fat and chronic disease, the fitness industry tends to focus on short-term goals and generalised ‘ideal’ aesthetics. With society shifting its focus to long-term health goals, gyms should consider making body composition scans mandatory for new members.
A body composition scan as part of a gym routine will reinforce overall health awareness. Much like how taking body measurements or stepping onto the scale once a week reinforces an awareness of body weight, a regular body composition scan will familiarise consumers with the unique makeup of their own bodies – what is normal (for them), what is not, and realistic goals. Managing fat levels and building muscular strength must, for the sake of long term health, trump short-term, unsustainable aesthetic goals. By establishing a routine with customers, gyms can encourage long term relationships and work through life’s milestones with their clients.
BodyExo has standardised body composition assessment to provide the data that strengthens the relationship of exercise as medicine.
The Big Picture
Gyms can use data gathered from body composition scans to inform marketing campaigns and challenges for their customers. With the aid of data rather than posed ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos, the emphasis on short term gains is decreased. This can be viewed as supporting the mental health of customers as well as contributing towards realistic goals.
There is an opportunity for gyms can move beyond supporting individuals to play a role in nationwide health by submitting de-identified body composition data to the government and reputable research bodies. This data can be used by scientists to further examine the impact of fitness on long term health and trends in the Australian population.
A standardised body composition assessment, such as can be provided by BodyExo, provides streamlined and detailed data. With regular input and persistence on the part of the customer, the data will clearly display the positive relationship between exercise and health.