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UBC study seeks to learn if at-home workout apps improve health during pandemic

Trial will give people access to yoga, HIIT or barre training

Although gyms and fitness facilities have begun to reopen in parts of Canada, including B.C., some Canadians are finding it harder to exercise consistently throughout the pandemic.

The developers of Down Dog, an San Francisco app that provides yoga, high intensity interval training (HIIT), made their programs free when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

The app is once again available at a cost, but it caught the eye of University of B.C. assistant professor Eli Puterman, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Health.

“I downloaded it for free and I started working out with it. I was like ‘oh my God, this is amazing,” Puterman told Black Press Media by phone. He found it helpful not just physically but mentally as well, especially while in the middle of a global pandemic. A study released by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health on Wednesday (June 17) found that between one-fifth and one-quarter of Canadians felt anxious, depressed or lonely during the pandemic.

He contacted Down Dog to set up the trial, which will give participants a free membership for three months.

“We’ll be randomizing people who are currently physically distancing and working from home to either yoga intervention, a high intensity interval training intervention, a combination of the two or a control group.”

The researchers, working from the Fitness, Aging, and Stress Lab at UBC, hope to measure levels of distress, depression and overall wellbeing. Participants will need to perform four workouts every week, each lasting 20 minutes, for six weeks.

Puterman said that after the initial six-week study period, the control group will also get access to the app, as researchers spend the second six weeks following up with participants.

In order to be eligible for the trial, participants must live in Canada, be between 18 and 64 years old and currently exercise less than 150 minutes per week. For more information, visit https://www.copetrial.ca.

RAED MORE: Can-do attitude gives way to anxiety, despair for many amid COVID-19 burnout

READ MORE: Canadians feel more anxious, drink more alcohol, eat more junk food amid pandemic


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