German lifestyles become ‘more sluggish’ due to pandemic

A woman sits at her desk at home in Munich
A woman sits at her desk at home in Munich. Photo: Finn Winkler/dpa
Germans are sitting down for far too long and are experiencing ever more stress in their lives, with the pandemic a significant factor, a long-term study into general health has found.

Only one in nine Germans leads an “all-around healthy lifestyle” in which a good diet, enough physical activity, low alcohol and tobacco consumption and low stress are adhered to, according to the DKV Report 2021.

That marks a low point since the DKV Report was first conducted back in 2010.

Now in its sixth iteration, the report revealed several worrying negative records, said Clemens Muth, head of the health insurance firm DKV.

“Germans now spend an average of eight and a half hours sitting down on weekdays – one hour more than in 2018,” said Muth.

The report, published on Monday, found that the move to home office during the pandemic had worsened the habit of sitting down too much.

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A third of 2,800 participants in the survey reported spending the most time sitting down while working. Another 29 percent said they sat down most while watching TV.

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“Germans were already sluggish and they’ve become even more sluggish,” said Ingo Froböse of the Cologne Sports University, one of the authors of the report.

Froböse concluded that Germans were living more unhealthily than at any time since the first report in 2010, with around 60 percent failing to find ways to reduce or balance out stress. 

That’s the highest level of stress measured to date, he cautioned. “Most people aren’t finding ways to recharge their batteries.”

“Women are more stressed than men,” Froböse stated, blaming workloads with childcare and homeschooling that had worsened during the pandemic.

According to the results, around 70 percent of Germans are physically active for more than 300 minutes a week in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. That might sound like a good result, but in 2010 the figure was 83 percent.

Physical activity refers to activities – both moderate and intense – on the job or in everyday life that have a stimulating effect on the body. It’s by no means just about sport.

One in five respondents weren’t even doing 150 minutes of physical activity a week. “They’re not doing anything,” said Froböse.

Women are living slightly more healthy lives than men overall, with 14 percent of women as opposed to 9 percent of men being considered “all round healthy.” 

In terms of the German states, the people of Saxony do best, with 18 percent of Saxonians leading healthy lifestyles. North Rhine-Westphalia has the worst level of healthiness at seven percent.


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