Exercise can improve mood and reduce stress, which is what we are all needing at this uncertain time. Here in the UK, several weeks have now passed since social isolation measures were put into place, so at this point you may be losing some motivation to keep active. Well, in this blog, I offer some of my top tips to help you keep up a regular plan of exercise during lockdown.
Whether it is to make you feel good, to pass time, to be healthy or to look good, we all have different motivations for exercising. This provides something to work towards and will offer a sense of achievement at the end of each workout. However, making more specific exercise goals provides a kind of 'action plan' to maintain regular exercise.
Aim to make exercise goals that are:
This is known as a SMART goal and an example of this is:
"Be able to jog 2 miles without stopping in 3 months' time."
Keep this goal top of mind during lockdown by writing it down and putting it somewhere visible. Another option is to keep a diary of your goals.
2. Start off slow
If you haven't done regular exercise in a while then opt for moderate-intensity workouts to begin with. This could include a quick walk around the block or a beginner's exercise video on YouTube. Working out too hard too fast can be off-putting, plus it can increase the likelihood of injury, so it is best to start off slow.
3. Be social
Yes, this is possible even in lockdown! Try exercising with your housemates or do a zoom workout with friends living further afield.
Getting support from family and friends can help and encourage you during exercise. Also, competition can drive motivation - just be sure it is between you and someone of the same ability! If the other person is fitter, it's likely to be discouraging.
Additionally, it can be helpful to tell others of your bigger fitness goals so they can support you emotionally and practically.
4. Get variety
Try a variety of activities to keep exercise fun and interesting. With time on our hands, now's the perfect opportunity to do new things! Don't know what activities to try? YouTube is a great source of exercise videos, from dance instruction to intense HIIT workouts.
Remember, though, make sure you are only doing things that you enjoy so you don't lose your motivation to keep active.
5. Keep it up
Repeating exercises on a regular basis will highlight improvements in your abilities which should, in turn, provide some motivation to keep going. Remember, fitness gains will be lost if you stop exercising so it is important to keep training.
Also, gradually increasing the intensity of your exercise program will ensure your fitness continues to improve.
Setting out a space in which to do your workout is important.
Being prepared in this way may encourage you to exercise as you don't have to clear away furniture every time you want to get moving. Having this space set aside may also remind you to exercise.
I would recommend putting a few bits of equipment in the area so they are to hand. This could simply be a towel to practice yoga on or a couple of weights or resistance bands (cans of soup work equally well as weights if you don't have any real ones to hand!).
7. Organise your time
During this period of social isolation, it is quite easy to lose track of time; so, give your days some definition by planning when you will exercise. Perhaps Monday will be your day for a fast-paced walk, for example, and on Wednesdays you set aside time for an online Zumba class.
Writing down your schedule also makes it easier to stick to. Why not make a colourful plan and stick it somewhere visible like the fridge?
Having a plan of the activities you are going to do over the period of a month or so will allow you to fit things in around your schedule. Plus, with sports already marked in your diary, there's less chance you'll be tempted to skip workouts.
8. Be positive
When you're not in the mood to exercise (because, let's face it, we all have these moments!) think about how you'll feel afterwards. It's likely to boost your mood, for example, and you can spend the rest of the day doing whatever you please once it's done.
I also like to focus on the fact that exercise gives me some alone time. If you are stuck at home in a busy household, exercise is the perfect opportunity to recharge your batteries alone.
So, don't focus on how hard exercise can be – have fun instead!
My Self-Care Tip: Making your workout more fun
We all have days where we don’t feel like doing much exercise but here, I offer a few quick tips to keep exercise enjoyable.
9. Adapt your workout
During those moments when you really don't feel like exercising it is a good idea to adapt your workout. Maybe you need to cut it a bit shorter or opt for something low impact.
Often your motivation will return when you get going though, so get yourself moving and see what comes from doing so.
10. Make it fun
Distract yourself from a challenging workout with music and podcasts. This is also a particularly good tip if you are doing a repetitive activity such as running.
There are lots of sports podcasts available, though perhaps you will want a break from all that whilst exercising! In which case, perhaps a podcast focusing on celebrity interviews (of which there are many) or fun facts (No Such Thing As A Fish is hilarious) will be a better distraction!
Hopefully, you will be encouraged by the masses of people out there exercising during the lockdown. There are lots of people to be seen cycling, walking, running and playing in their gardens and this is potentially quite motivating. People of all ages and abilities are out there exercising so why not join them, at a socially distanced position, of course!
Now that I've looked at tips to keep up your motivation to exercise during this challenging time, you may be wondering what kind of activities to do. Well, take a look at my blog 'Easy exercises to do at home' for some inspiration!