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What have you changed since March 2020? For me, I have settled on swimming more, having cycled through online Pilates and circuit training classes. It seems I am part of a global trend.

I have now embarked on a winter swimming challenge at my local outdoor pool. It is to swim 100 kilometres in 100 days and is not in aid of anything charity-wise, but I get a medal at the end. Plus I get to eat whatever I like – when you’re regularly burning hundreds of extra calories, the ice cream after dinner is a win-win.

It seems I am not alone in this endeavour. There are a fair few paddling down the lanes at the lido in the cold weather. And there are also the docks, where one swims in unheated water while the planes fly overhead into City Airport. I did head there over the weekend as a change from the pool. It was 12.6 degrees but as I always point out, once you’re in and you’re numb, might as well swim for a bit.

Aside from the social aspect of seeing other swimmers and eating biscuits afterwards, I am part of the larger trend in that I am looking after my health, both physical and mental. Indeed, Tetra Pak’s Index 2021 notes, “Consumers generally want more control over their health and believe they should do more to look after themselves physically. Many trends in this year’s Index are linked to this, from interest in immunity-boosting solutions to exercise to home cooking, which gives greater control over ingredients and is perceived as healthier.”

Another point is the Strava effect: you see others doing their exercises on your apps, and add yours to the feed. I now have a watch that tracks my swims, although it sometimes goes awry in the docks. Once it put me inside the hotel that is next to the docks during the swim. I was in the water and had not sneaked out to have a cocktail at the bar, as the GPS thought I did (see below).

Tetra Pak adds, “There is a cohort of consumers who are treating the pandemic as an opportunity to transform themselves for the better, including working out more and being more attentive to self-care. More than a third of respondents (38%) say they are exercising more since the pandemic, while digital exercise apps have surged. For example, Strava, which allows users to share and compare as well as log their running and cycling activities, added two million users a month in 2020 and now has 76 million users worldwide.”

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