Keeping fit during lockdown - a month in
Updated: Apr 24
Remember when a couple of days into UK lockdown the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries said this could be the best opportunity the whole country has to get ‘super fit.’ Well how are we all doing on that front?
It’s exactly a month into lockdown (which started March 23rd), are you feeling your fittest?
I like many people have a love hate relationship with exercise. I go through phases, sometimes I go to the gym three times in a week and sometimes I don’t go for three weeks….or even three months.
Not just 'mermaid hair'
The only type of exercise I do regularly is swimming (pic taken in Thailand last year by Noel Besuzzi.) It’s less about the keeping fit and more about stretching out and taking a screen break to keep my RSI at bay. I’m not a strong swimmer but I am a water baby and feel instantly happy as soon as my skin hits the pool or in this case, waterfall. I carried on swimming right up until the day lockdown began and it’s the one thing I miss more than anything else. I’m absolutely desperate to go for dip.
So what to do instead? I wasn’t about to jump on the Joe Wicks bandwagon. When you’ve not done a gym style workout in a while you can’t miraculously start getting into them.
Instead, I’ve taken this month one step at a time. I started by doing some dance videos on YouTube. They were fun and silly but they got me moving. If you want to to learn some 'sexy vixen' moves I suggest clicking on that link : )
Then I progressed onto walking. One Saturday I pretty much walked the entire breadth of the borough I live in, Newham, by walking along ‘The Greenway’, a pedestrian route built on top of sewage works. It took me two hours to complete, the longest walk I’ve done in years. I was so knackered that by the end of it I had to get a bus home and I also slept very soundly that night. Being active takes practice and the more I eased my way back in the happier I started to feel.
Wheels in motion...sort of
Next I took my bicycle out of the garage. I’ve not sat on it for two years and the truth is I have forgotten how to ride it. Just sitting on it to build back my confidence was a major start though and before lockdown is over I vow to at least be able to cycle to the end of my road.
The thought of cycling alfresco inspired me to get my boxing kit out, again something that’s been in storage for a while. It’s still only small steps but I’ve mixed up boxing with some HIIT style moves twice now by the docks (see pic at top of post) where I live and it feels good.
I’ve even done a zoom exercise class thanks to Pete whose classes I used to go to at the gym in Greenwich when I lived there. He does them twice a week for 30 minutes and you just need a mat or a towel – no fancy equipment. He guides you through body weight exercises like planks (yep, here's my attempt!) and having someone talk to you live while you work definitely makes you feel less lonely. It’s a tough session but also amazing what you can do in half an hour. (check out how to join in on Pete’s Twitter.)
And my exercise escapades don’t stop there. I’ve bought myself a hula hoop (still figuring out how it works!) and last Friday night I even participated in a zoom clubnight courtesy of Bombay Funkadelic which of course meant dancing around my living room. (Thanks DJ Shai Guy.)
It’s true, add up everything I’ve done in one month at home and I’ve done more exercise than I usually do, without realising it. It just happened without intending to: walking, dancing, boxing, body weight, cycling…oh wait. I also went for a jog and I don’t even like running.
I still miss swimming. I haven’t lost any weight and I don’t actually think I’ve got any fitter but there's more to being active than that. It feels like I've been 'normalising it' into everyday life rather than making an effort to leave my flat to go to the gym which takes far more motivation. At times when routines are so tricky to stick to, being active offers something different to look forward to and that in itself boosts your mental well-being.
Stay Home Save Lives...and don't worry about the neighbours?
Exercising at home isn’t easy. I live in a flat with no garden and every time I’ve done some form of exercise at home whether it was Pete’s zoom class or the dancing I feel like I'm an elephant thumping on the neighbour’s ceiling. Plus, the only reason I’ve done exercise alfresco in the park or by the docks is because it’s been nice weather. If it was raining everyday I doubt I'd go out to get my daily fresh air.
The last month has been a good one for me in terms of being physically active. The next month will be less so. Ramadan has just kicked off and I’m not one of those people that does exercise while they fast – many do, but how do they survive without water? I'm not about to find out.
And after that who knows? I plan to take my skipping rope out of the drawer it's tucked away in, so maybe that's next?
I also hope I’ll maintain this new found variety of physical activity once the swimming pool re-opens - and of course the day it does, I’ll be first in line for a splash.