Oxfordshire residents are being reminded of the importance of staying fit and healthy in fending off coronavirus, as part of a new campaign from Public Health England.

It comes after an Oxford University study released this week revealed anxiety about Covid-19 and the impacts of lockdown have made it harder to stay healthy for around half the population.

Nearly half of people (46 per cent) who took part in the online survey said they had been less active than before lockdown and 36 per cent revealing they were comfort eating because of stress or boredom.

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Smokers had also been more likely to increase how much they smoke to self-medicate the mental pressures of the pandemic.

The new campaign is designed to connect residents with a range of advice and services to help make simple but effective changes to their lifestyle to benefit their long-term health, and subsequently put them in better stead to fight Covid-19, and other diseases.

Initially, the campaign will be focusing on healthy weight, with tips and support available to help people to increase their physical activity and improve their diets.

Banbury Cake:

Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, Ansaf Azhar

Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, Ansaf Azhar, said: “As we see the easing of lockdown it is important that we all continue to be alert and take steps to stay safe.

“It’s also crucial that we are all the healthiest that we can be to protect ourselves. Covid-19 has prompted reflection on what really matters: family, friends and health.

“This campaign seeks to help us all to make changes to our lifestyles that will be good for our long-term health, and help us to be at our fittest to fight the threat of Covid-19 and other diseases.”

Emma Hagues, health improvement practitioner at Oxford University Hospitals’ Here for Health team, said keeping ourselves fit and well was a 'really important' part of managing illness.

She added: “It’s never been more important to look after our physical wellbeing.

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"We can understand how people might make certain choices around food, alcohol, or smoking when under stress – but by addressing these habits and making positive change, you can improve your ability to tackle illnesses as well as improve your overall health.”

Dr Kiren Collison, GP and clinical chair at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There is no time like the present to take some steps to look after yourself, both mentally and physically.

"Fresh air and exercise are good ways to relax and have fun as well as to help prevent illness.

"But if you do need medical help, we will of course always be here for you.”

The Oxford study received in total 837 responses from people aged 18 to 81 across England.

They were surveyed between June 19 and July 6 about mental health, eating, and physical activity. Respondents also reported increases in not sleeping well, experiencing persistent sadness, and having thoughts of suicide.

People often cited the combination of poor eating and reduced physical activity as contributing to their negative mental health.

For more information about services, groups and advice visit oxfordshire.gov.uk.