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Is TikTok’s ‘Cosy Cardio’ Another Fad – Or Is It Helping To Keep The Younger Generation Healthy?

TikTok might have pushed the concept of Cosy Cardio into the spotlight, but is the fad providing a bigger benefit for the next generation?
TikTok might have pushed the concept of Cosy Cardio into the spotlight, but is the fad providing a bigger benefit for the next generation?
  • Cosy Cardio provides a workout that is still effective while low effort and on a budget
  • Research shows that fitness levels of young people reduced during times of recession
  • But, fitness levels improved for people aged over 50

Cosy Cardio is going viral on TikTok for all the right reasons – especially as those chilly Autumnal nights draw in. As Lifehacker states; “cosy cardio is a blend of exercise with self-care and offers a more relaxed approach to movement with more emphasis on low-impact exercises in an environment that welcomes dim lighting, comfortable clothing, and even watch your favourite TV shows.”

Despite its sudden popularity, Cosy Cardio is hardly a new concept. In fact, its popularity first surged during the pandemic when so many people were either unemployed, on furlough or isolating and finding themselves with a lot of extra time to fill, and perhaps some anxiety to quell. Some binged Netflix or baked endless banana breads – others worked out.

But it’s popularity is surprising. Typically, when people experience unemployment or tight funds, fitness is put on the back-burner as luxuries and non-essentials are cut out of daily life. Paying for a gym membership or stocking up on healthy foods and supplements is often sacrificed for cheaper, perhaps unhealthier options, and with endless hours dedicated to the job search, those who find themselves unemployed might not necessarily feel they have much free time.

And here is where Cosy Cardio helps to buck the trend. Low effort but still effective and suits a limited budget. Add to that a viral movement that helps to inspire and connect people, and you can see how the concept has taken off so well.

Funds Vs Fitness

Whilst past studies have shown that those with money tend to live longer, has better health and wellbeing always been the privilege of the wealthy? New research from Bradford School of Management undertaken by Professor Kerry Papps sought to understand how labour market conditions can affect social fitness, focusing in particular on the impact on physical exercise.

They did this by analysing the fitness levels of people partaking in ‘Parkrun’ events, which take place all over the UK over a 16-year period. From the low-employment of the mid-2000s and the 2008 recession to the subsequent recovery, Professor Papps and his colleagues focused on the running times of individuals to complete the standard 5km distance.

Professor Papps established that periods of economic recession saw an improvement in running times among male and female participants over 50 years of age, whilst men aged 20-49 and women aged 20-29 suffered worsening results.

What was the reason for this? Professor Papps suggests it has less to do with physical fitness and more to do with financial stability. “The age differences appear to be associated with movements into unemployment from employment, rather than by runners exiting the labour market entirely,” he says.

Digitally driven fitness

Is technology helping to remove the need for young people to choose between their fitness and their bank balances?

The surging popularity amongst the younger generations for activities such as Cosy Cardio seems to be about more than uploading their own efforts to TikTok and being part of something – though this is almost undoubtedly a draw. Previous research has shown that physical and mental wellbeing are closely linked, and, as a cost of living continues to surge, it’s clear that, for the younger generation especially, the ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle is vital.

It’s also indicative of a wider, cultural shift. The growing interest in home-based workouts that are low cost, easy to complete and still leave time for the job search are reminiscent in many ways of the continuing preference younger generations display for remote and hybrid working.

Just as not every employee wants to feel obligated to go to the office to complete what they could easily accomplish from home, not everyone wants to go to a sweaty gym to push their muscles to the limit.

But can it’s impact last long-term? Like many viral social media trends, quite often impact can drop off. Some have pointed out that whilst the low-impact cosy cardio may benefit the mind and body, “it’s important that people also take time to challenge themselves to improve fitness and health”.

To counter this, the creator of ‘cosy cardio’ positions the workout as an “easy way to get yourself to gradually step outside your comfort zone, and as your body adapts to the new challenge, continue to introduce new and more intense activity so your body does not plateau.”

Like everything, it does not do well to stand still.

Overall, the outcome most young people would desire is to lower costs of gym memberships and the prices of healthy foods. But, for now, if they want to still have a healthy lifestyle and have the time to spare for job searches, interviews and professional progression then hopping on a TikTok fitness trend is what they are going to have to settle with for now.

By, Millie Jones

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