It is pretty hard to miss the fact that the world is currently in ‘lockdown’ due to the COVID-19. I, like many, are wondering how to go about keeping active during the lockdown. As you might know, for a long time I have been doing a Reverse Commute, which has served me well. A fast ‘commute’ walk in the morning before setting up at my desk. Then another in the evening marking the end of the day. Both of these add to my activity for the day and help me to stay productive. The added bonus is that it helps me to create that boundary between work and play with me working from home all the time.
Working from home
Having worked from home for a long time, I have perfected a number of routines and activities which serve me well. Getting out for a walk to top and tail each day. Attending gym session and classes and making sure I spend time outdoors chatting through my day so I don’t bring ‘work talk’ into my downtime. I know many of you reading this will be experimenting your way through the changes that working from home can bring, so if you would like to know more about my routines and ways of working, please do let me know. I’d love to help you. Anyway, I digress.
For the last few weeks the news has brought more and more restrictions in what we can do. It is completely understandable in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but it does mean that we all need to explore new ways of keeping active during the lockdown. Especially as none of us are sure how long it will last.
The limitations to outdoor activities means that the majority of our activities need to be indoors or in the comfort of our own gardens/yards – if we are lucky enough to have one. This means that gym classes are more limited and those nice long morning and evening walks have been reduced to one per day.
For me, this simply means making the most of the time I do have outside and making it a priority.
Choosing the time of day
The news of the ‘one per day’ outside exercise break, did leave me hard pushed to choose which of my reverse commute walks to decide on. Both have huge benefits for me and without one of them my step count and activity level drop quite significantly. When I really started to consider the benefits of them both, I opted to keep my morning walk. There are so many reasons behind this decision, but the main one is that it really wakes me up, gets me going and most importantly gets my blood pumping early in the day. I am not sure I would be quite so proactive in the morning if my step count was from the kitchen to my studio. Probably about 250 steps from the moment I get out of bed.
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” –Lao Tzu
Early morning also has the benefits of making it nice and easy to carry out social distancing. Although, when I get to the next point, you will see why I hate the term ‘social distancing’ opting for proximity distancing and social solidarity.
Over the years of doing my reverse commute around the same time every day, I have come to make lots of commute friends. The people you meet everyday and share that moment of passing with a celebratory ‘Y’alright’, ‘good morning’ or simple ‘hello’. The people you become friends with in your local areas from meeting daily and having a chat. I think these people would be another strong reason for my choice on taking the morning commute.
My dislike of the social distancing is that it has connotations that we should be distant from the people we know and meet. I can attest to the fact that I have met an increasing number of people taking this stance along the towpath. Eyes down, sullen face and certainly no chance of a smile or hello. My morning people though, they are the same or more friendly and that is what it should be about. We are in this together and trying to find some time for keeping active during the lockdown is our similarity.
The evening and boosting my activity
The greatest change I have had, in the grand scheme of things, is that I no longer get to go on a walk in the evening. Making sure I am keeping active during the lockdown has mean that I have had to add a few things into my lift so that I can create a new ‘normal’ for my days and weeks. Rather than sitting back with a mug of tea and a stack of freshly baked cookies (however tempting it might be) I have been doing research into activities I can do at home, which will keep me active and strong. I’d hate to go back to square one when I get back to the gym. Besides, getting active is a great boost for both mental and physical health and energy levels. The alternative might build something, but it certainly won’t be strength!
I have actually found it pretty exciting coming up with my own workouts for the evening activities. We have so far taken part in PE with Joe, some Bollywood dance workout and also yoga, restorative stretching and weighted HIIT. There is so much out there and it doesn’t have to cost the earth to take part either. Of course, it is all a work in progress, we are only a few weeks in and things will no doubt change again before this episode it out. So my advice for you if you’re looking at keeping active during the lockdown is to enjoy some trial and error. Play with your time, try loads of different classes on YouTube and enjoy the process. But don’t give up on your ‘one a day’ outside.
I am a lover of counting my steps. It helps me to work out my general activity and tweak things to get me on track. There are so many ways you can keep up with them these days, from trackers like the Apple Watch and FitBit to inbuilt apps on your phone. It might not sound like much for keeping active in the lockdown, but you will be able to see times when perhaps you didn’t realise that you’re actually inactive for a long time. And give you the boost to do something about it.
My step count has dropped. It is inevitable as I can’t get out for my second walk each day, but that’s OK. I can set myself new targets and take into account the additional fitness classes I do in the evening. They are all adding up to keeping me on the move (and not simply snacking my way through the next few weeks or months)
Sometimes the extra nudge of knowing that a friend is doing an activity or walking can be all you need to step up your game. (I have friends on FitBit and Apple, which makes for some fun distant competition and funny messages between us)
Keeping active in the lockdown
Before you start thinking that you need to head out and start doing what I am doing, stop! I am sharing how I am keeping active in the lockdown in order to inspire you to have a look around for things that you can do. You might not like doing HIIT or yoga in your lounge, but you might enjoy skipping in the garden. You could choose to do an evening walk or something at lunchtime. The point is that you need to work out what works for you. We are all totally different. Have different responsibilities in life, but ultimately we all would like to stay as active as we can while all this stuff goes on in the world.
Good for your body, good for your mind
I don’t think I have to explain how exercise and keeping active is good for your body and your mind, but it never hurts to remind us all – me included.
The NHS shares that being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:
- raising your self-esteem
- helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
- causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood
Check out the great resources they have to help you find activities for free too: NHS LiveWell
So my advice to your for keeping active in the lockdown are to find activities you enjoy and can do from the comfort of your home or garden.
- Choose a time for your outdoor walk/run/cycle/wheel and stick to it. Maybe join me in a reverse commute if you’re also working from home now.
- Track your steps – keep an eye out for times when you could benefit from a mini run on the spot while the kettle boils or when you slump into your favourite chair for a Netflix marathon.
- Enjoy whatever it is you choose. If you try something and it’s not for you, switch to something else. Try, try, try! Enjoy the process and see what work.
So enjoy getting active and making the most of your time in the lockdown.