Feeling that lockdown slump?
You’re not alone. As the weeks slowly melt away, so does our motivation – with our lockdown personas gradually switching from ‘productive Polly’ to ‘sloth-like Steve’. In fact, according to early study results conducted by Swansea University and The University of Manchester, social distancing and isolation are having significant impacts on people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing – and with many resources closed due to the pandemic, it’s up to us to take our health into our own hands, and find new ways to clear our minds. Que the frantic google search for ‘home fitness tips’.
You’ll have heard the age-old tale many times of how fitness does “wonders” for our mental wellbeing, and it’s for good reason too, you know, because science says so. And while it may sound like a total cliché, the results are absolutely worth it. Speaking to Head Coach at hero Training Clubs, Laura Brown, we got the expert knowledge on how to create an effective health and fitness regime during lockdown.
1. Getting creative with your routine while gyms are closed
Nothing beats a good old excuse to get out of exercising, and what better excuse than ‘the gyms are closed’? While it’s tempting to avoid all physical activity until we really have no excuse, getting into a new routine is much more beneficial for our bodies than sacking it all off for a new career as a couch potato. And there’s an easy way to do it, too.
“At the start of the week – plan your workouts like you would a work meeting or a catch up with a friend and put it in your diary. Treat it as a commitment not just something you can easily move around or postpone.”, Laura advises. “For those who are new to fitness, it’s important to build up a routine – don’t go straight into five really intense workouts in week one as your body will just be sore and fatigued making you more likely to quit. Over time you’ll work out if you prefer working out in the am/pm and then you can schedule your workouts more specifically. Personally, I prefer getting up first thing and getting my workout done for the day.”
2. Staying effective during home workouts
Following on from the handy ‘gyms are closed’ excuse, it’s easy to get frustrated and give up when working out at home, because let’s face it, when you’re not a pro, it just doesn’t seem as effective. But nothing’s stopping us from learning how it’s done.
“Bodyweight exercises are really effective and are perfect for doing at home.”, says Laura. “HIIT workouts (High Intensity Interval Training) are also a great place to start. They’re designed to be quick and effective, often using little to no equipment. HIIT workouts increase cardiovascular fitness, boost metabolism and strengthen key muscle groups.” Time to dig out those Joe Wicks books!
3. Replacing weight training while gyms are closed
As weights have sold out across a ton of trusty websites, you may be looking at the tins of beans to add a bit of weight to your workout… But trust us when we say, you don’t need to resort to that just yet. Laura advises “A great alternative to using weights is using resistance bands if you’re lucky enough to have some at home…” Widely available on sites such as Amazon and online sports retailers, resistance bands are an inexpensive way of upping your fitness game during lockdown, with packs usually being sold with various strengths to suit different needs.
4. Avoiding the fridge and cupboards while stuck at home
If you’re not guilting of checking the fridge every ten minutes to see if any snacks miraculously appear, you have serious restraint. Being stuck at home means spending a lot more time with our goods friends, boredom and the kitchen cupboard. But how do we break the habit? Turns out, there are a few tricks to try. “Firstly, snacking isn’t necessarily bad if you’re somebody who eats little and often and your snack options have good nutritional content,” says Laura.
“If you find yourself snacking because you’re genuinely hungry, think about your eating overall. Has working from home stopped you preparing nutrient dense food for breakfast, lunch, dinner etc. or are you constantly eating at different times now? A change in your schedule can throw everything out of sync which may lead to reaching for a sugar fix, get your main meals back on track.
5. Your physical and mental wellbeing
“It’s a known fact these days that exercise benefits our mental health as much as our physical health. With that in mind, try to do something everyday that involves moving, being active and ideally, getting outside as connecting with nature is another great way to boost mental health.” advises Laura. Not only is lockdown tough on our general routines, but staying home and experiencing severe lifestyle changes can be a huge trigger on people’s mental health. In fact, according to a study being conducted by Swansea University and The University of Manchester, early results show that social distancing and isolation is having significant impacts on people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. That’s where fitness comes in. “It is vital these days are well balanced. The NHS guideline is 150 minutes p/week of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity. For beginners, 3 HIIT classes (or something with a similar intensity) would be ideal with gentle walks and/or relaxing yoga class(es) in between.”
6. Continuing your weight loss plan during lockdown
Feeling the guilt during lockdown? You’re not alone. According to a study undertaken by Cambridge Weight Plan, 47% of Brits admit to gaining weight since lockdown began, with 35% putting it down to increased alcohol intake, and 24% blaming comfort eating for the change in weight. But how do we get it under control? “There are thousands of fad diets out there” Laura says, “but they all have one thing in common, they work to a calorie deficit. If you burn more calories than you eat/drink, you will lose weight. Eat well and move your body – that’s it!”
Losing weight is an extremely simple process, in theory, and in cases where options are limited and personal trainers are unable to see clients, sticking to the science is the best way to see results. The only way to lose weight, you ask? It’s as simple as burning off more calories than you take in. Check out apps such as My Fitness Pal to find the right calorie deficit for you, and be sure to track your intake so you can make sure you’re in fat-burning mode, without slipping up.