Since the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), I can’t believe how normal daily life has changed on just about every possible level. Those who can, are now working from home. We are having to try to adapt our typical keep fit regimes. And just about everyone has adopted social distancing measures in a bid to reduce the transmission of the virus. Thankfully, Public Health England has been crystal clear on what we need to do, to help keep ourselves and others safe.
So, we know to avoid large gatherings. In fact, smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres and clubs are now closed. Face-to-face contact with friends and family should be limited. And of course, we all need to wash our hands more often, ideally with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
However, this makes it difficult for most of us to keep fit and healthy the way we used to. Most of us are avoiding gyms, indoor swimming pools and our usual fitness classes and these should, in the main, be closed currently. But one of the biggest mistakes we could easily make during this crisis is to give up exercising and hit the biscuits. So now, more than ever, we need to stay active and follow a healthy diet. After all, physical exercise can dramatically improve our health and sleep quality. It’s often a vital component of good mental health, too.
So if you’re looking for inspiration about how to keep fit and healthy during the Coronavirus crisis, read on. And, if you’re virus-free, congratulations! I think it’s still no excuse not to exercise though as this will boost your immune system.
Do not underestimate the benefits of a daily walk. Keep your pace brisk and you’ll burn calories, build stamina and help your heart stay healthy. After all, walking is a great way to keep fit – it’s free, easy and suitable for all ages and abilities. It’s also a natural mood-booster that can raise your spirits within minutes. Take every opportunity you can to expose yourself to fresh air, sunlight and Vitamin D.
The trick during these troubled times is to choose your walk location carefully. For obvious reasons, less populated options are better. Check out your local park or country park, or even local woodland. If you live near mountains or a beach, even better. Coastal paths are another good option.
If your fitness level allows it, now could be the time to take up running. This can be an exhilarating way in which to keep fit in the great outdoors. However, don’t forget to keep your distance from others. In my local park, I am still seeing runners pass walkers within a metre distance and this issue has even been recently documented in The Times newpaper. Maybe it’s time to pump up the tyres on that bike that’s been languishing, unloved, in your shed? Don’t forget to keep plenty of room between you and those walking on the pavement. I rediscovered tennis recently, but I can no longer play outdoors as all the courts and clubs are now closed. So, for now, I’m walking and using a special online Pilates programme two or three times a week.
Do it digitally
If you have Wi-Fi, you have untold at-home workout options to help you keep fit. Les Mills On Demand, for example, offers more than 800 workouts to stream, cast or download. Some, such as Body Pump, require specialist equipment (weights, a bench). Others require nothing more than you, some comfy clothing, and a bit of commitment. Les Mills charges a monthly subscription, but it’s around £10 and you can cancel anytime.
Another tried and trusted keep fit option is the fitness DVD. There are hundreds available via Amazon Prime, so you won’t need to go out and shop for them. Choose from yoga, Pilates, Zumba, Tai Chi, HIIT, dance and cardio options. Most require little more than comfy clothing and perhaps a floor mat.
I’ve discovered the Pilatesanytime programme – this is truly brilliant! You can input your preferred level and the type of Pilates you prefer. So, I’ve tried level 2 and have chosen Stott and Body Control, which has been absolutely ideal. It’s pretty hard and I’ve been working out with Pilates for around six years now. However, I was using reformer machines so this is a slightly different way in which to keep fit for me. It’s only £14 a month and you get access to more than 120 Pilates teachers. It’s a bargain!
Now YouTube fitness channels are the 2020 alternative to the workout DVD. They offer video keep fit tutorials that are free to watch and hugely varied. Think aerobics to ballet, bootcamp to boxing – I think you’ll find there really is something for everyone.
Social interaction is critical for both mental and physical health. The link between loneliness and depression is well documented. I must admit that meeting up with friends and family is what I’m missing most during this Coronavirus crisis. Thankfully, modern technology offers us many ways to keep in touch. Texts, WhatsApp groups, Skype and good old-fashioned phone calls all help to keep us connected when literal face-to-face contact isn’t possible. FaceTime literally allows us to see the faces of our loved ones, all over the world.
Another interesting new option is the Portal, which offers smart video calling with Alexa built-in. It allows you to add three people to a group call with WhatsApp, or seven with Messenger. So it’s a great way to keep in touch with others if you’re self-isolating or social distancing.
The Smart Camera pans, zooms and widens automatically, so you can move and talk freely. The Smart Sound enhances voices while minimising background noise.
At the other end of the spectrum, it turns out you can have too much of a good thing. Most of us are now spending a lot more time than usual with immediate family. Some households have more than one adult working from home. Most schools have already closed, apart from those for key workers’ children. This means children/teens are also cooped up at close quarters. So, personal space is in short supply, with tempers to match.
Now, more than ever, self-care is vital. It’s a recognised way to improve our mental, emotional and physical health, boost our mood and reduce anxiety. Different tactics work for different people. I consider myself pretty sociable but I definitely need some quiet ‘me time’ during the day. Going for a walk (alone) usually helps, as does an indulgent bubble bath. If you’re in need of some peace and quiet, make sure you explain this to your family. Ring-fence 30 minutes each day, perhaps, to do something just for you. That could involve reading a book, listening to a podcast, or just sitting quietly sipping a glass of wine. Experiment until you find what works for you personally. Be kind to yourself – as well as to others – in these unprecedented times.