Covid-19: How to stay fit and active during the second lockdown
Since November 5, England has entered its second nationwide lockdown which will last at least four weeks. For the majority of us, that means another month of being homebound, with the exception of going for a walk or to the supermarket.
It is clear that this measure is key to minimise the spread of Covid-19, but what impact will it have on physical health and wellbeing?
With the closure of gyms and fitness clubs for another month, if people don’t have a fitness plan at home, they will become sedentary which will affect their health. Whilst this can increase the likelihood of becoming overweight, research has shown that it can also contribute to anxiety and depression, the risk of high blood pressure, as well as cancer.
According to Public Health England, mental distress was higher by 8.1% during the first national lockdown in April 2020 than it was between 2017 and 2019.
James Evans, 21, a Journalism student at the University of Portsmouth, says he struggled with the challenges of the first lockdown:
“In the first lockdown I struggled to stay motivated and inspired to keep fit and healthy, and to keep my mind at ease, just because of all of the uncertainty. Now going into the second lockdown, I feel like I am more prepared for any possible outcomes.”
Despite the challenges, there are some easy ways to get the ball rolling in terms of fitness at home. So, what can we do to ensure we make the most of the situation and keep ourselves motivated to stay fit and healthy this month?
Millie Rose, 20, President of the University of Portsmouth’s Kickboxing Society, says the best way to stay motivated is stick to a routine and take accountability:
“As soon as I wake up, I like to exercise as it keeps me motivated throughout the whole day. I get that for a lot of people, exercise is the worst task to look forward to. But by the time our routines are finished, the rest of the day suddenly becomes a lot more pleasant and we feel so much better.
“Keeping an exercise journal is also a really helpful way of tracking your progress, and it also holds you accountable by serving as a reminder to work out — especially if you constantly see it sitting around at home.”
If you are free from isolation and are allowed to venture outside, then regular walking, running or cycling is an effective way of staying active. However, if you are more likely be staying at home, out of preference or obligation, then any activity that raises the heart is good for cardiovascular health.
However, it is not about running a marathon in your garden or going on a crash diet — it is about making small, manageable changes that you can stick to. Craig Bower, 47, a Rolls-Royce project manager, is currently stuck in self-isolation during the second lockdown, and says that he is staying active by doing the little things at home:
“I get my exercise done by walking briskly around the house or up and down the stairs every day. Even simply standing or walking around whilst using phone — instead of sitting down, makes all the difference. I also play the Wii fit, and sometimes when I am in the house alone I’ll put my favourite music on and have a little dance.”
If you are still finding it difficult to find the motivation to stay active alone, there are plenty of online workouts available on the internet — which cater to a variety of different ability levels and interests, as Millie adds:
“The presence of other people doing the same work out — although virtual, can be really motivating, as we’re all in it together. It is easy to find live classes that you and your friends can join, or there are pre-recorded workouts, for example on YouTube.”
“On kickboxing we hold online classes twice a week. Just by joining any sport group on social media, such as dance or football — can really motivate you, because you’re surrounded by people who have the same goal or interest in mind. Plus, the virtual classes definitely help in developing your skills.”
Resistance exercises can also help strengthen your muscles and improve your mobility. Some of these exercises can be performed using weights or resistance bands, but if you do not have access to them Millie says that should not stop you:
“To mirror your gym workout at home, you can replace your usual equipment with household items, such as a heavy books or bags of rice for dumbbells, or a bowling ball instead of a medicine ball. Squats, sit-ups and push-ups are also really effective.”
Ultimately, positive mental health is the backbone of good physical health. This means getting enough sleep and maintaining a good diet, which equates to having more energy for an effective workout to take place.
By looking back at the fitness goals we were unable to fulfil within the first lockdown, we can treat this month as a second chance to take control of our health and wellbeing throughout this time of uncertainty. So, whatever your situation, try to keep active, eat healthily and stay hydrated.