But for Emma Quiggs, 42, the pandemic proved an opportunity to shed the pounds and teach herself to cook healthy meals for her family.
Unhappy shopping for size 16 clothes and made redundant from her job as an orthodontist receptionist, she joined slimming world and lost two and a half stone.
She said: “Lockdown has been a blessing for me and I have never been happier. Every year after Christmas I tell myself I will lose weight but never do. At the start of the year I did dry January and began walking round Preston docks with my friends to help with my mental health.
“Last year I really struggled with my anxiety which caused me to gain the weight. I spent most of my days eating rubbish and feeling sorry for myself but this year I knew I didn’t want to be like that.
“I have never been able to cook, so after I was made redundant from my job, I bought recipe books and joined slimming world and that was mainly how I started losing the weight, as well as the walking. I exercise most days now and find the walking really helps with my mental wellbeing too.”
Mum-of-two Karen Simmons, from Waterloo Road, Ashton, also used her time in isolation to transform her body, losing almost four stone since April and dropping from a size 20 to a 14.
Since having her youngest daughter, she said she had ‘piled on the pounds’ and knew she needed to change her lifestyle during lockdown.
She said: “I knew I was stuck in, not going to work and feared I would get bigger and bigger if something didn’t change. I kept looking at myself in the mirror and felt unhappy and noticed my clothes were getting more snug.
“My mum joined slimming world and offered to pay for me to join which, in other words, was her telling me I needed to lose weight. It started coming off quite quickly and I knew that by turning round my eating habits it would help me lose weight in exercise too.”
The ‘couch to 5k’ challenge encouraged Karen and her friends to begin running, which she now does three to four times a week to continue her battle of weight loss. She claims she couldn’t run for 60 seconds without being breathless, and can now tackle two miles without stopping.
Ran by the NHS. the scheme offers a running plan for beginners over a nine week period. The phone application helps people to track their progress and feel inspired through weekly podcasts.
“I have so much more energy to do things with my children and feel and look so much better,” she added.
According to a new survey, 48 per cent of people say they have put on weight during lockdown – but helping gym-fearers to combat their weight gain is 26-year-old Charlotte Berry – a personal trainer from Ashton.
She told the Post that her twice-weekly fitness classes at Ashton Methodist Church have picked up more interest in lockdown with people using their time in isolation to focus on their wellbeing.
“When we were first able to do classes again, I started doing them outdoors and noticed that so many people were eager to come out and get fit because the risks were so much lower,” she said.
“People have definitely had more time to focus on themselves in lockdown and they have more options available to them to enjoy exercise more. With people being off work and at home going to the gym or a class isn’t the same sacrifice as it was before because it just feels like an added extension to their day.
“I have a great group of women who come to my classes to escape working from home and being in their own bubbles. It is more than just weight loss and fitness, for many of them it is about being around others and socialising. A lot of people are put off by gyms because of the stereotypes that go with it so going to small socially distanced classes or having me go to someones house for a class takes the pressure off.”
A new King’s College London and Ipsos MORI survey of 2,254 people has addressed the question. 48 percent of respondents say they have put on weight during lockdown.
Experts say it is important to have ‘self compassion’ at a time of heightened stress but worries over unhealthy diets in lockdown remain.
Research by The 1:1 Diet showed that the diets of 25-34 year olds have been most affected, with 59 per cent saying they have gained weight during lockdown.
And increased alcohol intake, comfort eating and lack of exercise are some of the key factors behind the weight gain, as people have socially distanced from everything but the fridge and food cupboards.
Mark Gilbert, Commercial Nutritionist at The 1:1 Diet, said: “The COVID-19 outbreak finds us in a time of uncertainty, with many turning to food and drink for comfort.
“The research we’ve commissioned shows that, while some find the change in their routine is impacting their weight, for others it is raising awareness of the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
At this time, it is essential to follow the Government’s current guidelines regarding exercise, and maintain a balanced diet, so as to avoid negatively impacting our overall physical and mental health during lockdown.”