Lockdown fitness

Looking after your physical and mental health whilst in lockdown

It is recommended that all adults accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

Getting started

There are many ways in which we can start an exercise routine from home, without having to fork out on expensive gym equipment.

Using the stairs is an extremely effective way to get the body moving. As little as three 20-second fast stair climbs a day can improve fitness in only six weeks. If you use hand rails (especially if you live in a communal block), remember to wipe them down. The stairs can also be used to adapt some familair exercises, such as; sit ups, press ups, push ups, plank and more. The bottom step of the stairs can help introduce you to these exercises, until you are ready to use a flatter surface. Make sure you are well balanced and any objects that may cause a safety concern are out the way - the NHS are under enough pressures at the moment.

A 2017 British study found home based strength exercises that utilise your own bodyweight – such as press-ups, sit-ups and planks – are as important for health as aerobic exercise.

If you live in a bungalow, or if you don't have access to stairs, you can replace them by using a small chair, stool or settee.

No equipment, no problem.

We've already looked at how the stairs can be utilised to give you an initial workout, but what other peices of furniture around the home can be used for exercise purposes.

For those who are at home and finding themselves watching box sets on Netfilx, the settee you have been using to binge watch on can be used for any number of cardio or strength exercises.

Here are a few for you to try:

Climbers:

This is an elevated version of a mountain climber, that you can do for 1 minute. Aim to go as fast as you can.

Start facing the settee, placing your hands on the seat, directly under your shoulders, arms extended. Walk both feet back out to a plank position and brace your abs in tight. Alternate moving one knee in towards your chest at a time in a running style, keeping your shoulders steady over your hands the entire time.

Lower your legs with control and tap just your toes back on the floor, holding the hinge position with your upper body. Repeat this up to 20 times in a row, exhaling each time you lift your legs.

 

Sit Ups:

Sit facing the settee with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor (you can also tuck your toes under the edge of the couch for help with this move), and place both hands behind your head.

Lie all the way back onto the floor, and then sit up as quickly as you can (you can reach your arms forward to help you sit up if needed).

Next, slowly lower yourself back to the floor, first placing your lower back on the ground, then your midback, and then finally let your upper back and head touch the ground. Sit up as quickly as you can and repeat up to 15 times in a row. Over a period of time, build up the number of reps you can do.

 

If you are struggling to find the motivation, you can also access fitness videos, social media posts to encoruage you to start your new routine. We all know Joe Wicks has been the self-proclaimed PE teacher fo children whilst they are away from school, so why not join in. It is a great way to start the day and gets you energised.

Step up

- Stand tall with feet shoulder-distance apart in front of a step.

- Tighten your core and place your left foot flat on the step while keeping your spine straight.

- Shift your weight onto the left foot.
- Breathe out, and press through the left heel and move your body up onto the step.
- Place the right foot entirely on the step. Breathe in, and then slowly lower your left foot to the floor.
- Return the right foot to the floor to return to your standing position.
- Continue leading with the left leg until you've completed your goal number of repetitions, then repeat on the opposite side.
- Want a bigger challenge? Hold a weighted object (can of beans/bag of sugar) in the opposite hand of the stepping leg.

Dips

- Sit with your back to the settee, with both palms pressed into the edge just outside of your hips.

- Walk your feet out away from your body and lift your hips off the couch (but keep your back close to it).

- Now use your arms to lift you up and down, lifting your bodyweight.

- Try 10 initially, and over time, work you way up.

- If you want, you can add a kick at the end of your dip - therefore, stretch out your leg and kick on the dip.

Spending a considerable amount of time at home, complying with the Government's social distancing policies, will feel like torture to many who are used to spending their time walking, cycling or engaging in sports and exercise.

Where some households will have welcomed the one hour of exercise per day, using the opportuntiy to go for a walk or participate in some activities that they may have not considered in the past; for those who are physically active an hour will not feel anywhere near enough.

Recent research has conlcuded that physical inactivity costs 5.3 million lives a year globaly, and living in a home environment can encourage us to be sedentary (sitting or reclining). Sitting for long periods increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and can cause an increased chance of cancers.

While self-isolation measures are necessary, our bodies and minds still need exercise to function well, prevent weight gain and keep the spirits up during these challenging times. It is therefore important that we all take regular breaks from continuous sitting in front of your computer, tablet, or smartphone every 20 to 30 minutes.

How can exercise help?

Exercise, along ith a balanced diet, can help our immune system become strong, less susceptible to infections and increase our chances of recovery.

It is recommended that all adults accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

For those starting out, this can seem quite daunting, so plan your activity, maybe do it as a household so that it doesn't feel like you are doing this alone. Remember, any activity is better than none, and more activity provides more physical and mental health benefits..