I remember, early in April, while watching one of the daily Coronavirus briefings, when Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries was telling us about a daily exercise allowance, one of a very few excuses to leave our home, during a national lockdown, imposed in an attempt to stop the spread of Covid-19. She said: “ Think, how fit you can be at the end of this lockdown if you spend an hour every day to do some exercise”.
So, now, I wonder, how it worked for you? Did you become inspired and more active during the pandemic or maybe the slower pace of life and confinement to your house made you feel the opposite way, sluggish, unmotivated, and lacking in energy?
Well, if you did take to exercise, well done and keep it up! Four months is enough to form lasting habits so try to keep at it!
But if you fall into the latter group, do not worry, it is never too late to take up a sport or try to build in some exercise into your daily life, especially now, that gyms and leisure centres are opening again and most of us are going back to work.
Some might, however, be concerned that less time might make it harder for them to stay on track with their training and make them go back to the old inactive ways. If you are one of them, keep on reading, we will try to help.
- Use your daily commute as a chance to work-out.
If you are not an early bird, who wakes up at 5.30 a.m. to get their run in before heading to work and neither do you fancy exercising late in the evening, either just before or after dinner, maybe you can try swapping your car for a bike to get to and back from work? Not only will it be more environmentally friendly but it will also help you get the blood moving and make you alert and ready for the challenges of the day ahead. You might start with only two days a week and then increase to 5 as your level of fitness goes up.
- Get off the bus/train one or two stops early.
If you are not a fan of cycling and not eager to brave the rush hour traffic on the bike, maybe you can get off the train/bus one or two stops earlier so that you can have a little walk to get to the workplace. You will be surprised how positively it can change your mood and make you feel mentally more ready for work.
- Change your body position frequently when at work.
Many of us, especially, those who work in the office, suffer from inactivity the most when at work. We get busy and reluctant to get distracted and away from the desk. However, regular breaks can actually improve your productivity by clearing the mind, in addition to improving your overall health. You can be more active at work by:
- Taking a short break every 30 min to do a little walk or maybe just standing up and doing a stretch,
- Standing up at the back of the room, during presentations and long meetings
- Walking over to colleagues to discuss projects instead of emailing them
- Taking a trip to a water fountain regularly ( This will help rehydration too!)
- Moving your bin away from your desk
- Eating your lunch away from your desk, preferably walking outdoors
- Using a lunch break to do a work-out in a gym if there is one nearby or doing a short run to get that rush of endorphins that will keep you alert throughout the afternoon
- Try to resist the couch.
After a long day at work, it may be very tempting to put your feet up and find yourself chilling on the sofa, watching TV shows, and snacking for the whole evening. However, this will actually make you feel even more tired and will only add to the accumulative effects of inactivity throughout the day. That does not mean you are not allowed to relax! Try to do small housework or gardening jobs around the house and when you do end up on the sofa, just make sure you take regular breaks during TV shows to get a drink, cook yourself a meal, or maybe swapping one TV show for a 15 min home workout
- Spend weekends on active fun!
And, last but not least, use the weekends as days for active leisure. Take up a hobby that will keep you moving, like cycling, hiking, horse-riding, go for a walk with your family or friends, the possibilities are endless! It will provide a great distraction from your working life, clear your head, and help you recharge your batteries for another week of work.