21 ways to keep fit in lockdown
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How can you keep fit in lockdown? It’s not easy to stay motivated – especially with cold and often wet winter weather on top of the current Covid-19 restrictions.
Many people are really missing their normal gym or swimming pool memberships, while those of us who normally have a certain couch potato tendency are finding it getting even more pronounced.
However, the good news is that there are plenty of ways to keep fit even during the current restrictions, and they needn’t cost a fortune. It’s always advisable to start slowly, make sure you warm up properly, and if you have any health concerns or an injury, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise programme.
Tracey Crawley, owner of BossBody Fitness, based at Hadleigh in Suffolk, believes exercising from home can actually have benefits. She said: "You don't have to get dressed and can just exercise in your pyjamas if you want to."
Tracey taught a number of daily physical activity taster sessions, including Yoga Flow and Fitness Pilates sessions, as part of the This Girl Can Suffolk Virtual Activity Week during January.
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She said: "I delivered sessions to women of all ages and I even had some mums working out with their daughters which was fantastic to see. I even had some women that hadn’t used Zoom before and who didn’t have any gym equipment, but they still didn’t allow any barriers to stop them getting involved and having fun."
Before starting to exercise outside the house, make sure you know the current rules on where to exercise and who with: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home#exercising
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Here are 21 ideas for ways to boost fitness in lockdown:
Getting outdoors in the fresh air is of course one of the best ways to keep fit. Although exercising outside your local area is not allowed under lockdown rules, we are lucky in East Anglia, as there is bound to be somewhere to explore on the doorstep. Using a pedometer or a step-counting phone app can help to spur you on.
The Active Norfolk website has a page about walking and outdoor exercise with lots of ideas and links.
Sadly, parkrun and other running events are currently suspended in the UK due to lockdown, but you can still go running for your daily exercise, as long as you follow the current Covid-19 rules.
The NHS suggests that if you haven't been active for a while you build up fitness via walking before getting into running. It's also important to ease into running slowly and to have the right footwear.
Another option for daily exercise during lockdown is to get on your bike, as long as you keep it local. British Cycling is encouraging people to keep cycling even in colder weather, and has a cycling challenge, #LetsRideThroughWinter, to raise funds for World Bicycle Relief.
A suggestion from Active Suffolk is to get out in the garden whenever the weather allows and as the signs of spring arrive. It suggests adding more movement into gardening, for instance by using a watering can instead of a hose.
Build exercise into your day
Walk up and down stairs
Fitness doesn't always need to be about using equipment or taking part in an online session - there are also things we can all do over a day at home to build in exercise. Active Suffolk has a number of suggestions on its website, including walking up and down the stairs a few more times than you would usually, or carrying washing up and down the stairs in several loads.
Do some housework...
Getting going on an early spring clean is one way to get exercise within the house, as you use up energy through dusting and vacuuming.
Exercise in between other tasks
Active Suffolk suggests doing simple exercises such as squats while waiting for the kettle to boil, or doing chair-based exercises while watching TV. You could also just put on some music and dance around the lounge.
Break up periods of sitting
If you are currently working from home, you may be sitting at a desk for much of the day. Active Suffolk suggests breaking this up by trying the following: Walk around when you're on the phone. Stand up and take a walk around the house between TV advert breaks. Do some chair-based activity while watching the TV. Get up regularly to make yourself a drink.
Exercise is for everyone, including people with disabilities. Active Norfolk has put together a selection of resources to help people do workouts and exercises from home, including adapted workout videos, light exercises to perform throughout the day, walking, dancing and more.
Fitness programmes and video workouts
Couch to Fitness
The Couch to Fitness programme is a free nine-week schedule of classes with three video sessions a week, and rest days in between.
The classes, by qualified coaches, are organised by community fitness group Our Parks, which was founded in 2014 to harness the legacy of the 2012 London Olympics.
Workouts for women
Many video workouts are specifically geared to women. Locally, Colchester fitness and lifestyle coach Lisa-Maria Kirwan is helping women to keep fit in lockdown by streaming free workouts via Instagram, from her living room, under the title This Fit Mum.
She also has free workout videos on her YouTube page. For more details, visit @thisfitmum on Instagram.
These exercises aim to strengthen the body in an even way, with particular emphasis on core strength to improve general fitness and wellbeing. The NHS recommends Pilates as having "something to offer people of all ages and levels of ability and fitness" and say it is classed as a muscle-strengthening activity.
There are several free video workouts linked from the NHS Pilates page.
You don't have to be fit already to start yoga, as there are many different classes geared to different fitness levels. Yoga is an ancient form of exercise which helps strength, flexibility and breathing. It aims to help both physical and mental wellbeing.
The NHS website has a page about yoga which includes links to free video sessions.
Weight training for beginners
Weight training can be used to help build strength, but you don't need to buy expensive weights to start off with, before you know if it is for you.
Tracey Crawley, who teaches the basics of weight training as part of her online beginners' classes at BossBody Fitness, said: "You don’t need weights to start with. Tins of tomatoes will get you started and a mat or towel for floor work."
If you haven't done much exercise for a while and are not sure where to start, strength exercises, including chair-based exercises and mini-squats, are a good place to start.
If you've always wanted to try dancing, even though in-person classes are currently on hold, there are many options for online dance sessions.
DanceEast is offering a range of online classes and workshops, ranging from hip hop to ballet.
This type of dance exercise combines techniques from ballet and fitness. Classes include classic dance moves as well as elements of dance, yoga and strength training. A number of fitness studios offer online classes and videos.
Zumba and Zumba Gold
Zumba is a hugely popular dance workout which is used by an estimated 15 million people around the world to help them keep fit. Older adults may find Zumba Gold, a lower-intensity workout, better suited to them. The official Zumba.com website has loads of info, and there are also many Zumba videos and fitness studios offering online classes.
This type of dancing is a different way to keep fit, and lots of fun. Dancer Alison Cooklin usually teaches classes and workshops in belly dance, Bollywood and cabaret live in Suffolk and Norfolk.
During lockdown she is posting videos and teaching live workshops online. She also has a series of '"sofa workouts" for people with limited mobility and other health issues. For more details, visit her website or search for Bellycise on YouTube and Facebook.
Playground games revisited
If you are looking for a more unusual type of exercise, hula hooping could be the answer. Abby Close, based in Suffolk, offers online classes in hula hooping, which she describes as a fun and alternative way to tone your body, improve your cardiovascular fitness and develop a new skill.
For more details, visit her website.
Don't want to fork out for expensive exercise equipment? A skipping rope won't set you back too much.
The NHS website says: "Just a few minutes of skipping brings a range of health benefits, including heart and lung fitness, stronger bones, balance and flexibility."
It adds that an average person will burn up to 200 calories during 15 minutes of skipping. However, it is a strenuous exercise, so it's advisable to start slowly at first.