Thousands of people in the UK have died having contracted coronavirus, with men making up nearly two-thirds of COVID-19 deaths in people under 85.

Age-standardised data from the Office for National Statistics has also found men are twice as likely to die from the virus as women1.

So, are men taking the virus seriously? Researchers from the University of Sheffield and Ulster University suggest some young men aren’t.

Breaking distancing rules

A study found over half of young men aged 19-24 have breached UK lockdown rules by meeting with a group of friends. The research also revealed one in five men aged 19-21 have been dispersed, arrested, fined or taken home by police for breaking the rules – compared with just one in 10 women of the same age2.

Anthony Franklin, managing director and founder at Fibodo, believes young men not adhering to lockdown rules could have consequences.

“It’s concerning that some young men feel they won’t catch the virus.

“By not sticking to the guidelines, there’s every chance they could get the virus and come into contact with family members who could then spread it onto other people.”

Under normal circumstances, over half of men in the UK say they work out 5-6 times a week3. And just under two-thirds of men participate in sport4.

Franklin adds one of the reasons why some young men are ignoring physical distancing guidelines could be due to the closure of gyms as a result of the pandemic.

“For many people, the gym is a communal space to keep fit and socialise. With gyms closed, young men and many others have had to find different ways to stay fit and keep in touch with one another during these challenging times.

“I can also imagine it’s been a hard time for men who participate in team sports with fixtures having been cancelled.

“Although team sports at grassroots level may be on hold, people can go outside more than once a day for exercise alone or with their household, or with up to five people from outside their family providing they observe physical distancing5. This is at least a positive step to returning to some kind of normality.

“Hopefully, the day will come soon when we can go back to our gyms and training spaces and start throwing weight around again, hit punch bags or get into our yoga flow.”

Pressure to deliver

Whilst some men may have ignored UK lockdown rules, others have felt pressure to put themselves at risk for economic reasons. That is the view of Dr Lindsay Fawcett, consultant in occupational medicine at BHSF.

“With taxi and bus drivers being male-dominated roles, it’s understandable they’re more exposed to outdoor conditions than an office worker and the risk of them getting infected is higher. For example, the more people there are on a bus, the risk of contamination being potentially higher.

“Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed male security guards, chefs and taxi drivers are among those most likely to die from COVID-196.

“No one should have to go out to earn to stay afloat if it puts their health at risk. In occupations at highest risk, there needs to be access to protective equipment, testing and tracing, as there is for those working in healthcare.

“It’s good to see Transport for London have taken steps to protect their frontline staff, including bus drivers, and have issued face masks to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.”

Other impacts

Dr Fawcett also believes the pandemic may well have had an impact on men mentally and put a strain on relationships.

“More than a fifth of British men say their mental health has got worse compared to the start of the outbreak of COVID-19 and over a quarter admit they often feel lonely. Yet, nearly half of men say no one has asked how they’re coping during the pandemic.

“Around a third of men (33% and 28%) also feel their relationships with work colleagues and friends has weakened since the physical distancing restrictions have been imposed7.

“Checking in on your mates and loved ones can make the world of difference. Even if it’s just a short call or messaging them on social media to see how they are.

“These challenging times won’t last forever and with lockdown measures slowly being eased, hopefully, we can soon go back to living our normal lives.”


BHSF RISE is a tailored mental health and wellbeing service which provides unlimited, ongoing specialist support built around an individual’s specific needs. If you or anyone you know is struggling with their mental health, we’re here to help. Call us today on 0800 622 552 or email [email protected].

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