At-home fitness works during pandemic but may increase global health divide, WHO webinar says
Digital devices for home fitness may break down fitness barriers for some, but they also may exacerbate global inequalities in healthy and physical activities, according to a WHO webinar today.
The fitness industry saw revenues drop 58% in the US during the pandemic, and UK gyms lost US$4.3 billion last year. Meanwhile, the market for global fitness apps grew 9.34% in 2020, according to market researcher Technavio.
“While doing exercise at home in your comfortable living room, you can build up that confidence, build up that experience,” Hugo Braam, the co-founder and CEO of Vituragym, a consumer health and fitness app, said on the webinar.
Steven Ward, chief transformation officer of the home-fitness brand Go Fit, said technology can democratize services to a broader range of society.
But not everyone has access to the electronic devices needed for at-home fitness technology, Benjamin Uzokwe, a gym trainer from the UK, said on the webinar.
“I have access to a laptop or to a phone, but like a lot of children from underprivileged areas they don’t,” he said.
The fact that different media platforms among countries and regions means there is no one global fitness app, Jürgen Steinacker, professor for sports and rehabilitation medicine from University Hospital Ulm, said in the webinar.
“We’re in that dilemma...digital provides such great solutions and at the same time, always is going to have that risk of excluding some people as well,” said Amanda Harding, who moderated the talk.
“We need to act like a public health solution, rather than traditional fitness, in order to appeal to non-traditional fitness users to break down barriers and to become more inclusive,” Mr Ward said.
The webinar is the first of a series of eight on health and fitness organized by the WHO.
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