Overcoming Exercise Gloom during the COVID‐19 Lockdown
It’s all well and good now that we have plenty of time, outside it’s sunny and our surroundings are nothing but postcard-like pictures. And, we are all too familiar with glorious Instagram posts of people exercising in the park or their idyllic gardens. But what about the reality? What about finding the motivation to go on a run when it’s raining? Or finding the energy to attend a virtual gym class after a busy day when all you want to do is snuggle up on the sofa with comfort food? Let’s not even mention the hardship of remaining positive about doing some Pilates in your confined surroundings during the COVID‐19 lockdown. Or going for an almost enforced walk to escape feeling housebound during social distancing when your neighborhood is nothing but a grid of grey roads and questionable parking spaces. Sounds familiar? Welcome to the reality of exercise but let me reassure you: you are not alone!
Firstly, learn to equip yourself against negative attitudes and, secondly, find the exercise that is right for you. Maybe mainstream sports are not your thing, but there’s a wide world of activities out there where you can make the most of the outdoors and indoors. There’s a lot you can do even without spending a penny: from free online YouTube workouts to using your own bodyweight. The beauty of this is that most of these can be done indoors and, courtesy of the current Coronavirus lockdown, there are more free online workouts to choose from than ever.
The evidence on exercise
Evidence shows that being physically active through regular exercise helps to prevent and manage a variety of health problems and concerns, such as high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and many types of cancer.
Exercise has been shown to improve your mood as well as decreasing feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. This is because exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormone’s serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression. Needless to say, physical activity can provide a positive distraction and in fact, there are many studies over the benefits of regular exercise to combat negative and low moods.
Exercising is good for boosting energy levels, reducing feelings of fatigue and stimulating good sleep. After reading all these benefits, can you now see why, especially during these unprecedented times, it is incredibly important to keep active!?
Familiarize yourself with your exercise blockers
The “I don’t have time”, “I don’t have the willpower”, “I’m too tired”, “It’s too hard”, “I don’t even like exercise”, “It’s raining outside” are all too familiar blockers. Yes, it’s not always easy but you can prioritise and manage your schedule to make it fit in. Don’t procrastinate over it. Once you’ve allocated a slot to exercise, count 1,2,3 and go. Remind yourself that often the tiredness you feel may just be mental fatigue. It’s worth remembering that you will feel more energised if you do some exercise. Be smart and anticipate these blockers with recalling times you felt reinvigorated after exercising.
Be prepared for bad weather! I find that half the battle is having the right tools which often do not need be the most expensive. Think layers, think warm! Don’t get hung up on the most known form of exercise. Running, football, weightlifting and yoga are just a few of them. There are so many ways to be active! Choose an activity that you enjoy because if you’re not looking forward to it, it isn’t going to happen!
Kitting up for the outdoors
If you are planning on exercising outside, the first thing you must plan is your kit. Be prepared! If you are heading outdoors and the weather is bad, then get out there with adequate wear. There’s no point wanting to look all glamorous in a skimpy top and ending up catching a cold. Make outdoor training comfortable by reducing the risk of being cold, think about your layers and the right type of material to allow flexibility.
But we can’t exercise at the gym?
The COVID‐19 outbreak has certainly taught us all to be creative with what we have, and, in many cases, people have discovered that there is a huge number of free workouts online. So, if going outside is just not an option, be it because of the weather or because of the pandemic, you can look at exercising indoors in your very own home. Even without a gym membership you can plan a workout with just a few inexpensive tools like a Pilate mat, a skipping rope or a couple of small weights. Again, don’t get too hung up on the lack of things you have. You can use a blanket instead of a Pilate mat and you can use your own bodyweight instead of weights. Lunges, squats, pushups, hip bridges and mountain climbers are just some of the workouts you can do without buying any equipment. For workout inspiration check out some YouTube videos. There are plenty of free workouts and some of them are also a lot of fun. Here a couple of my favorites: Cassie Ho and Beach Body‐ 40 Minute Fat‐Burning HIIT Workout. Or there is always P.E with Joe Wicks for the kids!
Just know, during these times, even the gym bunnies will have to think of alternative options so you can only try your best. If you have a park nearby, that may be a good place to start from.
For the ones of you who can afford to join a gym once this is all over, it means being able to exercise whatever the weather. Plus, there’s a lot of activities you can consider taking up or even just trying out when lockdown restrictions are lifted. From indoor climbing, to fencing, boxing, martial arts, racket sports, horseriding and various other exercise classes. For some of you, indoor ice rings, skiing and snowboarding facilities might even be a possibility. It’s worthwhile exploring your options now and branching out to see what’s out there so you can make plans for the future.
If lockdown shows us anything positive, it’s that exercise has many benefits and you can be active even without going to the gym. You may even discover other workouts you like more…and for free! During the social distancing measures, you may feel less motivated to get out there alone but remind yourself that this is just a passing time. Things will get better and, in the meantime, keeping active can improve your mood. Whether you go out for a run or a stroll, remember to keep safe and comply to the COVID‐19 safety regulations. So, give it a chance, and who knows, you may find you loved it! And if not…it bought it a guilt‐free pass for that extra dinner portion!
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