Physical activity. | R.L.

It’s Easter, a time to celebrate rebirth with a rabbit bearing eggs. Why not a chicken? Well, because a bunny was the symbol of Eostre, the Pagan Goddess of Fertility.

Our furry little friends, after all, are known for their enthusiastic breeding. All this talk of fertility made me wonder: have we been at it like rabbits since the pandemic struck?

You’d think that being stuck at home with no work would be the perfect excuse for some fornication. It happens in India every year. Nine months after the monsoon, birth rates predictably go up.

But it’s over a year since the COVID pandemic hit Europe, and governments locked us in with our partners, spouses and better halves. So, where is the baby boom? Where are the so-called ‘coronials’?

The data is in, and the conclusion is that we didn’t conceive any more children during the lockdown. No surge in births. No bell curve on the population growth graph.

Not even a bump. Actually, if you see a baby bump, consider it the exception; the pandemic has been a complete baby bust.

Early data shows that, nine months after the pandemic began, birth rates fell in many advanced economies. France’s National Statistics Institute’s provisional data indicates that there were just 53,900 births last January- 13 per cent down on January 2020.

The country’s total of just 735,000 births last year is its lowest since the Second World War. Italy, the US and the UK reported similar trends. Here in Spain, deliveries fell a whopping twenty per cent in December and January.

Is it fear of a disease or economic uncertainty that is making us fertility cautious?

Whilst the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic resulted in a 12.5% decline in births, the pandemic-free financial crash of 2008 also led to a 9% drop in births over the subsequent four years.

It seems that economic uncertainty, rather than health uncertainty, is the culprit behind our frigidity.

Have we heedfully decided to have fewer children, or is it something played out unconsciously?

According to a Guttmacher Institute survey of 2,009 women, 40% changed their plans about having children. But what if it isn’t just a conscious choice not to procreate? What if we’re having fewer children because we’re too stressed out to get ‘jiggy’?

Thanks to social and economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic, stress levels have surged, affecting our libido.

For business owners here on the island, restrictions are torturously inconsistent. Arrange staff. Stock the pantry. Spring clean and open the restaurant.

No, scrap that. Close the restaurant. Put the waiters on the dole and let the food go to waste like your good time and investment. For my restaurateur friends and their employees, these yoyo restrictions and uncertainty are taking a psychological toll.

Considering that the hospitality industry accounts for a third of the Balearic economy, that’s a whole lot of stress.

Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol slow the body’s ability to make testosterone, and low testosterone reduces sex drive.

It can even cause erectile dysfunction and impotence. Some studies also link too little testosterone with increased anxiety in women.

Low levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen are also linked to anxiety. It appears that COVID and its restrictions are inconsistent with the economics of fertility.

If the baby bust were to persist, it would have drastic long-term implications for our society and economy- affecting everything from immigration to employment to pensions. So, what are we to do?

We might not be able to ease government restrictions or uncertainty about the future. But, when it comes to our sex drive, we can grab the bull by its horns, pull the horse by the reigns and take matters into our own hands.

The simple antidote to impending population collapse is a little exercise.

Working out, after all, boosts testosterone and serotonin, alleviating depression, giving us a sense of wellbeing, status and accomplishment.

Aerobic exercise- such as vigorous walking, jogging, swimming, or biking- improves circulation, increasing libido and reducing the likelihood of erectile dysfunction.

After training, we also feel more attractive. Toned bodies tend to help the cause. Strength and flexibility enable a karma sutra of sex positions, too. So, help the population with some yoga and weightlifting.

(Alternatively, go for a dip in the sea. Prolonged cold water exposure also improves blood circulation and testosterone production. But don’t forget to wear a facemask whilst swimming (wink wink)- the sooner Darwinism culls off the uber-conformists, the better.)

Exercise clears my frustrations and concerns with COVID, restrictions, and what the future holds.

Between the feel-good endorphins and a ‘runner’s high’, I can be as frisky as a cock in a henhouse. After exercise, I’m happy and find it easier to love and be loved.

So, if Easter is about rebirth, then for society’s sake, do some exercise until you’re running around like a wild rabbit.

You’ll be attracted to someone in no time. It should be easier than you think, as, with facemasks, anyone could be good looking.