We’ve all been advised to stay at home as much as possible, but that shouldn’t mean neglecting your health. We consider the ways you can stay active without leaving the house, helping you protect your physical and mental wellbeing while socially distancing.
The current government guidelines ask that we all stay at home as much as possible, which for many people has meant a significant change to their normal routine.
Most of us support the reasoning behind social distancing and self-isolation, and the importance of doing our part to restrict the spread of COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean that things are easy.
Focus not on what you’re missing but on what you can do during this time
The prospect of staying home for a long period can be daunting at the best of times, and some people will find it even harder when coupled with anxiety about the coronavirus.
A good piece of advice is to focus not on what you’re missing but on what you can do during this time. One thing you can do that will protect your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing is to stay as active as possible.
That’s not to say you should be pressuring yourself to achieve levels of fitness you previously only dreamed of.
Setting unrealistic goals will lead to failure and only make you feel worse.
Instead, try to strike a balance. Keep your activity levels up when you can, but accept that there may be days when you just want to be in front of the TV, and that’s OK.
How much exercise should I be doing?
NHS guidelines on exercise recommend you should be doing either 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity each week.
You should spread out different types of exercise and activity across the week and try to do some form of physical activity every day, even just something light.
- Light activity is anything that gets you up and moving. This could be anything from making a cup of tea to cleaning the kitchen. The older we get, the more important it is to keep up with light activity.
- Moderate activity gets your heart rate up and may raise your body temperature and create some shortness of breath. You should be able to talk but you probably won’t be able to sing.
- Vigorous activity makes you breathe hard and fast. You may well struggle to say more than a few words at a time.
This advice is the same for all adults, and children should be doing a lot more. You can find the full NHS guidelines here.
Ways to stay active at home
It’s not all about High Intensity Interval Training in your living room. Keeping your activity levels up during lockdown can be as simple as making small changes to your everyday habits.
1. Sit less
This one is absolutely as simple as it sounds. Be on your feet more. This is particularly important for older adults who tend to be less active overall.
Most of us will naturally be on our feet less now that we’re at home, so try to work in a bit more movement. If you’re using a computer or watching TV, get up every 30 minutes or so to stretch your legs.
Rather than sitting down while you wait for the kettle to boil, use those few minutes to walk briskly back and forth between your living room and kitchen. Even small amounts of activity add up to make a real difference.
2. Get stretching
Stretching is something almost everyone can do and it offers many benefits. As well as increasing flexibility and range of motion, regular stretching can also improve posture, boost your fitness and muscle health, and help ward off aches and pains.
Many people also find that regular stretching helps them feel calmer and less stressed.
Yoga is a popular and very accessible approach to stretching that can benefit people of all ages. For a low-impact option that’s perfect for beginners, try Yoga with Adriene.
If yoga is not your thing, the NHS website has many resources to help you establish a stretching routine, such as this 5-minute morning stretch session.
3. Keep up with your hobbies
OK, so certain hobbies are out of the question right now, but with a little creative thinking you should be able to adapt to life indoors – whether it’s altering your existing hobbies or finding new ones.
Perhaps there’s a creative hobby you’ve always wanted to try? Painting, sketching, sewing or knitting… these can all be done from home. If you have a long-neglected instrument, why not pick it up? Or maybe it’s time to get creative in the kitchen?
It’s important to look after your mental health, too, and even inactive hobbies will help to keep your mind on an even keel. Sit back with a good book or brush the dust off those jigsaws.
4. Embrace active household tasks
Could your home do with a spring clean? Make an effort to keep on top of your housework and you’ll be getting in light exercise without even realising it.
Dusting, hoovering and cleaning will all get your body moving, and the more effort you put in, the more benefit you’ll feel.
Gardening is another fantastic source of low-impact cardio. Pottering about in the garden for a few hours could equate to a moderate workout.
Even if your fingers are only green enough to stretch to mowing the lawn, you’d be surprised how soon your heart rate starts to rise.
5. Exercise in your living room
Or bedroom, or garden, or whatever space you have to do it. There are countless videos, DVDs and even books that can help you to get your heart rate going and burn calories without leaving the house.
Many of these are available for free online, including the highly popular PE with Joe.
Personal trainer Joe Wicks, also known as The Body Coach, hosts a free YouTube workout every weekday at 9am, which is then available (still free) permanently on his YouTube channel.
This is by no means your only option, as there are countless free resources available online, catering to everyone from total beginners to total gym bunnies.
Tell Google exactly what you want - such as 'beginner's aerobics for over 50s' - and you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.
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