For at least three weeks, the UK will have to isolate much more than ever before.
Although daily exercise, as we'll explain below, falls under the new regulations, it's still becoming increasingly difficult to exercise sufficiently. And it is more important that we all do as much as we can to preserve our physical and mental health.
Here are some tips on maximising your time out of the house for exercise, and how to make the most of your home to stay fit and healthy.
The information contained within this article is correct at the time of printing, but due to the speed with which the situation evolves, it may not be accurate at a later date. Please check all government and NHS websites before doing anything we outline.
Take advantage of free services
As the country grinds to a halt in many ways, we've seen a lot of positive altruism from businesses and celebrities. Carol Vorderman has made her home teaching platform, The Maths Factor, temporarily free, while guitar company Fender has free online courses for three months.
The same has happened with exercise-related activities. Here’s a list of services that are now free:
- Joe Wicks free 30 minute PE lesson daily
- Actor Chris Hemsworth's Centr is providing free workouts for six weeks
- Davina McCall's Own your Own Goals is free for 30 days
- Free 90-day trial on Peloton App
- Free dance fitness classes on the 305 Fitness Youtube channel
- High-intensity fitness company Barry's are offering live tutorials on their Instagram page
- If you are doing Yoga, meditation app Headspace has created free content which can help your mindfulness
Embrace exercise with mindfulness
Being isolated can impact your mental health. Exercise in itself is linked to releasing endorphins which boost your general happiness, but there are activities which will also focus on improving your mental well-being directly.
Yoga or Pilates are two examples, with both focusing on breathing techniques which help you deal with anxiety. YouTube is an excellent resource for starting these activities, with this Yoga for complete beginners video one example.
They're not the only avenues you could explore. Martial arts are also an excellent way of controlling your mind and body, and building mental discipline while undergoing physical activity. Again, these can be learnt at a basic level following YouTube instructions (this is one example). They could be a cost-effective way of exploring your interests before committing to joining a club in the future.
Build up your strength
Using a weight machine at the gym is one of the nation's most-popular keep-fit routines, but all gyms and leisure centres are now closed.
If you already have similar equipment at home, you can continue to exercise in this way, but there are alternatives. You can use household items though instead of weights, such as filling rucksacks with tins and packets of food. This video shows how you can use a tea-towel for core strength exercises.
Press-ups, sit-ups, planks and squats are all exercises that don't require any weights other than your bodyweight. They can all be done in a reasonable amount of space at home, Livestrong explaining how to do them (alongside more). And this hotel room workout is excellent for confined spaces.
Check out five ways to get fit on a budget.
If you leave the house, make it count
Leaving the house is now restricted to the following activities:
- Basic necessity shopping; which must be done as infrequently as possible.
- Exercise once a day. This includes running, walking or cycling, and you can only do it alone or with members of your household.
- Any medical needs, including care-providing or helping vulnerable people.
- Travelling to and from work, only if you cannot work from home.
If you can run, walk or cycle use this opportunity to do so. Cycle shops are still open as well under the government laws, so if you do need to buy a new one you should be able to.
If you are leaving to do food shopping, assuming you are not collecting too heavy products could you walk to a shop slightly further away? This way you can make exercise part of your leaving the house routine even if not doing anything as strenuous as a run.
Remember, you must observe the 2-metre rule at all times. Keep a safe distance from anyone you pass in the street, and you’re not allowed to use this time to meet friends or socialise unless it's someone you live with.
Use your garden - however small it may be
If you're lucky enough to have a garden or a decent sized yard, then you can utilise it as part of your exercise routine. Even if it's a small space, exercises like star jumps are possible (check out this 10-minute cardio workout from the NHS), as is outdoor Yoga.
You can use garden furniture to support your body for sit-ups, while the walls are excellent for doing ski-sits. If you've got enough space, you can also do some high-intensity bursts of 30-second sprints. This article explains the physiological benefits of the exercise.
Exercising with kids
Looking after kids through lockdown is particularly challenging, which is why we’ve outlined 20+ ways to keep kids entertained at home as a means of making sure boredom doesn't get to your sprogs.
Their exercise is just as important as yours, so it's essential to build it into both your routines. As mentioned in the free products section, Joe Wicks has been running virtual PE lessons through his YouTube channel every morning at 9am. This also has the added advantage of keeping you connected if other people you know also follow the videos. Afterwards, why not video call friends and family to discuss the activities you all did?
If you live near a green space, go for a walk and take some ball games with you, particularly if the weather is nice. Cosmic Kids Yoga, aimed at kids aged three years old and over, is a fun way of getting your kids involved in Yoga via themes they will love, such as Frozen or Harry Potter. It also means you can work on their mental health at the same time.
Have a party
Exercise doesn't have to follow a formal structure. If you feel that these activities feel uncomfortable or awkward for you, then you can be reassured that dancing counts as a form of aerobic exercise.
Simply playing some music that you love and dancing with your family or housemates for at least 30 minutes will get your pulse racing, and the positive reaction to your favourite music will do wonders for your natural serotonin levels as well.
Live by yourself? Don't be put off; you can either dance knowing nobody is watching or utilise a video calling service such as Houseparty or WhatsApp to involve others. And if you're feeling you can take your moves to the next level, professional dance service Seen on Screen are offering free tutorials for some of their routines, inspired by the likes of Britney Spears and Beyonce, on their Instagram channel.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.
By Jimmy Coultas
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