Oxfordshire residents are being urged to kickstart healthier lifestyles and lose weight in the fight against COVID-19 and other diseases.

The Better Health campaign, which launched on Monday (July 27), aims to help you make healthier food choices, become more active and prevent future weight gain.

Anxiety about COVID-19 and the impacts of lockdown have made it harder to stay healthy for around half the population.

More than one in three people (36%) say they are comfort eating because of anxiety or boredom. Smokers are more likely to be increasing how much they smoke to self-medicate anxiety, stress, and boredom.

The new Better Health campaign connects residents with a range of choices 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.

The NHS website now has a dedicated section on Better Health which includes a weight loss plan app, which provides 12 weeks’ worth of engaging content that can be personalised and tailored to personal goals and needs. It has also teamed up with Weight Watchers and Slimming World.

Later down the line, support will also be made available to help people quit smoking, cut down their drinking and look after their mental health.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, Ansaf Azhar, said: “This campaign seeks to help us all to make changes to our lifestyles that will be good for our long-term physical and mental 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 is a really important part of managing illness.

“It’s never been more important to look after our wellbeing. 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.”

And Dr Rob Bale, clinical director and consultant psychiatrist at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We know that physical and mental health are intertwined, so whether you’re young or old, being active will improve your mental wellbeing.  But if you are struggling with anxiety or other difficulties, do take advantage of our 24-hour free mental health helpline. Our trained advisers can help. Please call 0800 783 0119 or if you are a young person ring  0800 783 0121.”

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.”

More information

Support to help residents achieve better health across Oxfordshire:

Achieve Healthy Weight Loss Oxfordshire – free access to a range of weight loss programmes delivered locally, including; Lose Weight with Achieve Oxfordshire, Slimming World, Weight Watchers and The Other Room (virtual gym) with daily live classes. Sign up here.

Go Active– physical activity that everybody can take part in across Oxfordshire, find an activity here. Including GO Active Get Healthy with diabetes, more information here.

Live Well Oxfordshire – information about groups and organizations offering services for adults to keep fit and well. Search here.

Here for Health – Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

With the right approach building healthy habits and creating positive change can be easier than you think. The Here for Health team provides free support to help you create a personalised health and wellbeing plan with a focus on what matters most to you. Support is available across a range of lifestyle topics and includes access to a variety of resources and links with community services. Please visit the OUH Here for Health website for more information.