5 steps to keep fit during lockdown
A survey by King’s College London and Ipsos MORI has revealed that 48% of us claim to have put weight on during lockdown.
This is hardly surprising as our lifestyle changed overnight, we’re spending a lot more time at home and don’t have access to our usual activities. But not being able to use the gym or take part in your favourite activity doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself fit and well. See our five-step plan to find out how.
Step 1: Get a Goal
If you have a specific goal to aim for, it will help you stay focused and motivated. Begin by setting yourself an individual fitness goal and work out how you plan to get there – considering the type of activity you enjoy, the time you can spend being active, and how you are going to assess your progress.
Be realistic in two ways – first by accepting the fact that if you want to lose weight you are going to have to move more and eat less, and secondly by not setting yourself too big, or too small, a goal.
Be kind to yourself – it’s not about punishment but finding ways to stay fit and healthy that you will stick to in the long term. If you’re new to exercise, we can’t promise that you’ll enjoy it at the start, but we can guarantee you’ll enjoy the results. And these can be as wide ranging as reduced weight, better sleep, and improved wellbeing.
If you’d like to download a planner to log your activity and track your progress, there are plenty available online, including this one from Microsoft.
Step 2: Get Motivated
Motivation isn’t something that happens to you; it something you have to create for yourself. You know you have to start moving your body more, but first you have to move your mind. Just because you don’t do something, doesn’t mean you can’t.
Key to this is finding an activity you enjoy or would like to try. While we can’t pretend your options aren’t limited by lockdown, you can do more than you think. Even if you’re self-isolating at home, there’s step-ups using the stairs, skipping, vigorous cleaning (which can burn a 190 calories and hour) and free weights (which can actually just be tins of beans, and we’re not joking, check out the BBC tea time challenge here). You can even stream fitness or dance classes straight into your living room.
If you’re able to go outside you can go for a brisk walk, run, cycle ride – if you have a garden, get digging as that’s another great way to exercise.
And remember, when lockdown is over, there’ll be a lot more activities for you to try.
Step 3: Get Prepared
Preparation and Planning is important; as the saying goes, ‘If you fail to prepare you prepare to fail’. If you have decided to do a workout first thing in the morning for example, then get the area, equipment and clothing ready the night before – or if you’re going for a brisk walk or run then lay out your trainers and clothes.
Help your mind and body be prepared to get the most out of exercise, no matter what time of the day. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep so you’re energised, eat well for energy and stay hydrated.
Consistency is key. Just keep going. Remember to only ever compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.
Step 4: Get a Programme
According Bupa, 7.2 million people have been injured while trying to stay fit during the lockdown. A major factor is doing too much exercise at once – and it isn’t just those of us new to exercise, but people who are used to exercising that are simply overdoing it.
Following a programme will help, because experts have taken the guesswork out of when you need to increase your efforts, and when you need to rest – sufficient rest is important to make consistent progress and achieve your long term goals. There’s a lot of free online programmes available, for every ability level, and even some especially designed for lockdown. Invest the time and effort now to find one that fits in with your fitness goal.
For example, if you’ve always fancied running, why not try the 9-week Couch to 5k Challenge? It’s specially designed for people with little or no experience of running and what’s more, the BBC has teamed up with Public Health England to create an app where you can train with some familiar faces: Radio DJ, Jo Whiley; comedian and actor, Sanjeev Kohli; or 13 time Olympic and World Championship gold medalist, Michael Johnson, will talk you through your run and support you every step of the way. Download the app here.
Step 5: Get Flexible
Stretching will help you improve flexibility, reduce tightness, and ultimately, make your workouts more efficient and safer. But the benefits don’t stop there – it also improves your blood circulation and can help you get rid of tension and relax.
Stretching before exercise helps you move more easily and stretching afterwards helps to make sure you don’t feel too sore the next day. But you needn’t limit stretching to exercise – you can stretch in the morning to ease stiffness or in the evening to relax before bed.
When stretching, you should:
• Always move smoothly and gently
• Feel a definite stretch but it shouldn’t be painful
• Hold the stretch for 10 seconds (or 2 slow breaths). Rest for another 2 breaths. Repeat the stretch relax set 3 times
The NHS have prepared a set of exercises you can do after exercising – complete with pictures here.