Most of us are not holed up at home, with instructions to only leave the house to get essential supplies, go to work if it's impossible to do this from home or to exercise.
As a running enthusiast myself it’s been really encouraging to see this message being so consistently communicated. We caught up with Thame’s well-being and fitness expert George Anderson to find out why this is so important, and to get some top tips on how to stay fit and healthy during the Lockdown.
Why has such a big thing been made about making sure we get regular exercise?
Exercise has always been important, but now more than ever. For many people exercise is a way to get physically fit, lose weight or maybe train for an event.
Although these things are still relevant, the big push to get us all exercising is because of the positive impact it has on our mental health. With so much disruption in our lives there is a lot more anxiety and stress, and exercise is a great way to relieve some of this.
How much exercise should we be doing, and what is the best type?
The guidelines have always been 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity cardiovascular activity, 5 times a week for good physical and mental health. This doesn’t have to mean running or cycling. One of the very best forms of exercise is walking, where you set off at a pace brisk enough to get your heart rate up a bit.
I recommend that everybody gets their ‘daily allowance’ of outside time with a walk or run. We’re lucky here in Oxfordshire with so much beautiful countryside and parkland to walk around. The more we can spend time in nature the better, as this can give our mental health another positive boost.
What about home workout classes? Are these any good?
These are excellent ideas! I have been running at-home workout programs for years and it’s been great to see so many more options now being offered. Gyms are putting on live virtual classes, there are many follow-along workout videos on YouTube, and you can of course tune into Joe Wicks every weekday morning at 9am for a half hour PE class with the kids!
What top tips do you have for exercising at home?
1) Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to really push your limits. Try to enjoy the process and remember that it’s more important for your mental health than physical fitness right now. Before the gyms shut down, I was training for a 12-hour treadmill ultra-marathon. Now I’m just enjoying the freedom of going for a 30-minute run with the dog and not worrying about ‘losing fitness’.
2) Don’t get overwhelmed with all the things that you ‘could do’. Pick a couple of workouts that you enjoy and get familiar with them, so you build your confidence. Speak to your local gym if you had been a member and see what they are offering. Just because everybody else is working out every day with HIIT, yoga, Pilates and running programs doesn’t mean that you should.
3) Listen to your body. When you’re exercising at home without a professional helping you with your technique you have to pay even more attention to your form. Choose workouts with instructors who give good coaching and technique pointers and stick to exercises you are confident doing. If it doesn’t feel right or anything is hurting, be prepared to modify or just rest and move on.
4) Try and get some variety. 2 or 3 good workouts combined with regular walking or running is a great starting point. But try and include some stretching and core exercises as well to give you some variety and work the whole body.
5) If you’re at home with the family, get them involved as well! Go out walking together, have fun with some family HIIT sessions, or do some partner exercises that get everybody involved.
Remember that this is about protecting your mental health more than anything, and the more fun you can make it the better.