Keeping fit and healthy
In these COVID-19 days we could do with all the positivity we can get! So, follow our straightforward tips, get SMART and keep fit in lockdown.
To achieve any goal, you must plan for success. Using the SMART model, you can set personal fitness goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely:
• Specific. This includes deciding what you will do, how long you will do it, and when you will do it. We can all leave home to exercise nearby, so rather than a general goal of ‘exercise more’ try a specific goal like ‘take a 30-minute brisk walk every afternoon in the local park’. As you get fitter you will naturally walk further while still sticking to your time goal.
• Measurable. If you can measure a goal, you can determine your progress which is great for motivation. For the brisk walk example above, you can measure the time. But what other factors do you want to use? Inch loss? Weight loss? Fitting into a specific item of clothing? Determine what feels right for you. Free apps are available to graph your weight loss and other fitness-related measurements, but a pen and paper will do just as well.
• Achievable. If you set yourself unattainable goals, you’re more likely to give up and this could end up giving you negative feelings. That’s the last thing any of us need. It’s better to start small and build up to something spectacular. You know your own body and there may be things you just can’t do, so work hard within your own abilities.
• Relevant. Keep yourself motivated by focusing on why you want to do this, the specific positive change this will make in your life and the way you feel. You could be inspired by the longer-term health benefits, the way you look, or the energy you’ll have when lockdown is over, and we are reunited with friends and loved ones. You need to find your own compelling reason as this will really help you stick to your plan.
• Timely. Have a date to work towards and put it in a calendar. This will make the goal ‘real’ and every day you’ll be a step closer to it. When you get there, give yourself a reward….and set another goal. And if you don’t achieve it, despite your best efforts? Learn from your mistakes (Goal too ambitious? Didn’t exercise as much as you could? etc) and forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself.
Now that you know what you want to achieve, you need to decide how to achieve it. The best way to stick to an exercise plan is to enjoy it. If something really bores you, try something else as there are so many ways to exercise, even during lockdown. There will be something that’s just right for you.
Here are some tips to help you along on your health and wellbeing journey:
• Eat well. We gain weight when we eat more calories than we use. That’s it. So, to lose weight, the key is to eat less and get more active. Rather than a fast weight loss diet, try and look for something that you will be able to make part of your everyday life. To nourish your body and kick start a healthy weight loss plan, follow NHS advice.
• Incorporate more movement into your everyday life. This will help you to lose weight and become healthier in the long term. The good news for those of us missing the gym is that research shows that regular, moderate activity like walking daily can burn more energy than weekly visits to the gym! Walk whenever you can, use the stairs, tidy the garden… you get the idea.
• Running. This can seem daunting, especially if you feel unfit. However, the NHS has a special ‘Couch to 5K’ programme for absolute beginners, that will see you running the distance in just 9 weeks! There are many physical benefits to running – weight loss and toned muscles, and it can also boost your confidence and self-belief. Download the app or podcast today.
• Home exercise. There are online exercise programmes out there for all ages and fitness levels – from Joe Wicks’ high energy Daily PE sessions for kids to gentler, yet still effective, exercise for the elderly and everything in between. Jump online and find something that’s right for you.
• Strength and Flex workouts podcasts. The NHS has created a set of five podcasts where a fitness coach talks you through exercises to help improve your strength and flexibility. Requiring no special equipment, the exercises can be done in or outdoors. Click here to find out more.