We are constantly being reminded how important regular exercise is. However, with most of us stuck in Groundhog Day, getting yourself motivated and moving in the mornings can be tricky. During the first lockdown, a lot of us went into beast mode. Working out crazily to pass the time. A lot more of us went into slob mode, casually consuming a balanced breakfast of Percy Pigs and tortilla chips all washed down with a copious amounts of caffeine (... just me?). This inactivity can potentially lead to feeling even more sluggish, stressed and suffering from aches and pains.
This time around, a gentler approach seems to be being adopted by a fair few of us. Admittedly, it is way harder to motivate yourself to move during the cold, dark winter days. But we are also being kinder to ourselves and more understanding that extremes are not what is needed during such a time. With regards to exercise, the focus should be on general movement rather than full on, hardcore work-outs, especially if it has been a while since you pushed your body. We should be aiming to keep active: doubling down on things we already do as well as capitalising on the time we have available.
Here are our three top tips to help keep you gently active during this winter lockdown.
We should all be walking as much as we possibly as it has so many great benefits. It is a great gentle way to keep fit, improve your heart and lung health, increase balance and joint mobility as well as an opportunity to get out of the house and revel in nature which has been shown to be beneficial for our mental health. Whether in the city or a more rural setting, stick your warm, comfy boots on, grab the dog for company and just start walking.
Stretching is basically any movement that lengthens your muscles, tendons and ligaments. Some studies suggest that stretches should be a crucial part of any work out routine yet are often overlooked. However, a simple stretching regime can be a great way to start you day in a mindful way. You can find a lot of good beginner's routines on YouTube and it can be more exciting than simple static stretches. From ones you can actually start in bed and finish on your feet to short yoga, pilates or tai chi flows. Any way you decide to do, keep it up consistently and you should feel increases flexibility, a greater range of joint movements as well as a calmer and more focused mindset.
With so many of us working from home due to the current global pandemic, it is so easy to forgo leaving our work space and give ourselves the breaks we need. Many studies have shown that such an inactive and sedentary lifestyle can lead to a whole host of health problems so using active breaks during our working day is more important now than ever before.
There are few easy ways to encourage yourself to do this.
- schedule in a walking phone meeting. If you know that you will be on the phone for a while, stick your headphones in and head outside for it to get a bit of movement and fresh air.
- add some 'soaking in' time to your calendar. Blocking out a slot or two of 15 to 20 minutes to allow yourself to think over what you have been doing and what still needs to be done. Not only will this help refine the day's action points, you can cover over a mile.
- put some light weights or resistance bands in view of your work space. Hopefully they will remind you to periodically pick them up and do a few exercises which will all add up during your work day.
- use an active break app such as Wakeout which allows you to set a timer at the end of which you are encourage to take a short moving break. The breaks can last anywhere from 30 seconds to 2.5 minutes and are designed to be done wherever you might find yourself at the time such as your desk, the kitchen or even the sofa. A really easy and fun way to incorporate short bursts of activity into your lifestyle.
However you decide to do, try to make gentle, mindful activity a part of your day. Consistence is much for important here than perfection, and a little, each day all adds up. Your body and mind could both benefit!