Why Exercise is so important during the Covid-19 Pandemic…
Exercise is really good for your physical health and general well-being. During this global pandemic this is so relevant. As the government and the NHS are bringing in initiatives to get us all more active and exercising, I thought it was a great time to write about this. I am going to cover why exercise is so good for you during this time, how much exercise you should ideally be doing, and how you can fit it into your daily lives whilst taking into account the current Covid guidance…
Why Exercise is so good for us during this Pandemic:
IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOST
Exercise has been proven to help boost your immune system. It’s so important right now to be doing everything you can to avoid catching Covid. You can do this by following the hygiene guidelines and social distancing. But to defend yourselves even more you can exercise. This is doing something positive to make you stronger, boosting your immune system to fight infections better!
IMPROVED WELL BEING & REDUCED STRESS
The stress and worry we are all experiencing during this time can have an impact on Mental health and well-being. Exercise releases Endorphins which make you feel good. Exercise is a great natural anti-depressant. I often refer to the ‘corona coaster’ with my friends as we are all up and down and are having good days and bad days. On the bad days if I get out for a run, or do a hit in the garden, I instantly feel better afterwards. It sometimes will feel like the last thing you want to do but I promise it will work 😊. Endorphins are such a great mood booster!
PREVENT WEIGHT GAIN
I don’t know about you, but we went through a real stage of baking to break the boredom and then we had to eat it! As well as a few more glasses of wine during the week than normal, and some serious comfort eating at times, I have definitely consumed some extra calories over the past 5 months!! Exercise has been my way to balance out these extra calories consumed!
During this time you may be finding it harder to sleep if you’re not as active during the day. You may also be struggling to sleep because of worrying or being unable to unwind. Research has shown that by exercising in a day it helps us to fall asleep faster at night and have a better quality nights sleep.
ADDS ROUTINE TO YOUR DAY
Lockdown has changed everybody’s daily routine and even as we are easing out of lockdown our routines are completely different to before. As a working mum with two children I understand this well! A Lot of us are still working from home with little or no childcare and have lost the routine we were all used to. Some people are still furloughed and at home with little or no routine to their day. Getting up in a morning and starting with some exercise adds some purpose and routine to your day. Or perhaps planning a regular lunchtime walk or bike ride can help to do this too and will help to break up the day.
How much exercise should we do?
The NHS recommend we should all do some form of Physical activity every day and reduce our sedentary time (e.g. sitting at a desk, watching TV etc). The recommendation is that over the week you should:
- Do at least 2 forms of Resistance (strength) workouts a week
- Do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity
To find out more details on these recommendations head to: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/
This is a target that you may be already achieving or be nowhere near. Either way it’s fine. Don’t beat yourself about what you’re not doing. Just try to focus on making small changes and building up how much you do until you reach the target. Something is better than nothing and if you keep going then your going in the right direction. At first you may break exercise down into 10 minute blasts and build it up from there.
How to fit exercise in?
So having gone through the benefits of why exercise is such a positive thing to do right now, and how much you should aim to do you may still be feeling unable to find a way of fitting it into your day or are not sure what to do. Here are my tips on how to fit some exercise into your day:
KEEPING IT SAFE
The most important thing is to make sure you’re exercising within government guidelines and always make sure you’re up to speed with the latest advice. When exercising with other people make sure you’re keeping socially distant and you are keeping your gathering to the numbers recommended. If attending classes make sure your instructor has a Covid-19 Safety policy, is insured, and is following all of the current guidance.
At beginning of lockdown one thing that was really nice was to start focusing on some family time. We spent a lot of time out on bike rides, playing in the garden and walking together. As things have eased and routines have changed this may not be happening as much but it’s still a great thing to do. So try and get a family workout in when you can. Not only is it a great way for you all to get some exercise at the same time it’s also a nice thing to do spending time together (which helps to boost everyone’s mood in the house too…). If you’re at home and working, and have the kids home too, why not have a lunch break shake up all together, and get out for 30 mins for a walk, bike ride or maybe a game in the garden.
USE THE GREAT OUTDOORS
As there have been restrictions on where you exercise it’s meant people are exercising outdoors a lot more. By getting out the house in the fresh air you’ll instantly feel better. The term ‘Green Exercise’ is used to describe outdoor exercise and there’s lots of research about why this is so good for you. Get exploring your local area. Are there any steep hills you could do a little hill sprint session on, or some steps you could use for a workout. Get creative, have fun and explore 😊
ONLINE & VIRTUAL CLASSES
Lockdown has made many fitness instructors completely change how they deliver fitness classes. ZOOM exercise classes are now part of the ‘new normal’ and are a great way to get your gym class in without having to leave your home. This is great if you’re isolating at any point, haven’t got childcare to be able to attend an outdoor class or would prefer the zero-risk option as there’s no physical contact with anyone.
SET SOME GOALS
Setting yourself a target or goal to work to can help to keep you motivated to keep getting out to exercise regularly. Over the past few months a few of my clients have been doing the Couch to 5K initiative. This is a great idea as it’s given them something to work towards and has kept them focused. You can download the programme from the NHS website and it really does work! Or if running isn’t your thing maybe set yourself a walking distance target, or a strength target such as being able to do 10 full press-ups. Whatever it is you set, it needs to be something you’re interested in and motivated by.
GET YOURSELF A WORKOUT BUDDY OR ACCOUNTABILITY GROUP
Have you got some friends that are wanting to exercise too and are struggling to get motivated? Why not set up an accountability group on Whatsapp or Facebook where you all check in regularly and keep each other going. During the full lockdown I did a few workouts with friends via facetime which worked really well. It was a great way to catch up too. We made sure each other did it and committed to a time. I also setup a closed Facebook community where we are still working out live 4 times a week and it’s great to have that community keeping you going!
KEEP THINGS VARIED AND FUN
Finally my last tip is to keep things varied and fun! Chose exercise that you enjoy and try and mix things up a bit to keep you interested. You could even play some exercise games. One game I love playing with the kids is to chose 6 exercises for the numbers 1-6. We then throw the dice to determine which exercise we do. You could do it in 2 teams and say the first team to complete 15 rolls of the dice wins. You can adapt and change this by doing more or less rolls.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this guide to why exercise is so important right now. Ultimately anything you do is a positive thing and whatever you can fit in is great. The more you do the more you’ll want to do as you start to feel the benefits.
IF you want more advice and tips on exercising and eating well then follow me on @workoutlikeamum on Facebook and Instagram 😊