How to keep your exercise plan going after lockdown



S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise and Fitness)
@AVogelUK
Ask Louise


01 September 2020

How to keep your exercise plan going

Public Health England recently published a report in which two out of three people said that regular exercise was important to them.1 However, despite this, the report says that since lockdown was eased, activity levels actually appear to have declined amongst the general public.

This conclusion was based on a survey taken between April and May of 2020 which involved more than 2000 people. This survey suggested that more people have been doing less exercise since lockdown, compared with those who have actually become more active.

So, how can we keep ourselves motivated to exercise and reap those health benefits?

  • Re-evaluate your exercise plan
  • Use your weekends to be adventurous
  • Exercise in little bursts
  • Involve others
  • Think about joining a club
  • Set yourself new challenges

Re-evaluate your exercise plan

If you haven't been able to keep up the levels of activity that you established during lockdown, it is probably because your goals were not maintainable. Perhaps you threw yourself into running, for example, but have since found that the activity is tiring and ache-inducing long-term. Perhaps you went out and bought a bike but don't have the time to use it now.

To help get back on track, and to avoid missing workout days, aim to complete activities that can be easily scheduled around your existing routine.

Having been closed for over six months, gym classes and gyms themselves will be very busy at the moment, so I would recommend trying an alternative that you can easily do when you get home from work, or that you can squeeze in at a moment's notice. This may include:

  • A power walk in any nearby outdoor space
  • A HITT workout in the garden (if you want something more intense)
  • A spot of digging or weeding outside

TIP! If you are able to work out answers to the following questions before exercising, you’ll be fully prepared and perhaps, therefore, more likely to keep up regular exercise. 

  • What’s sustainable for you?
  • What will you enjoy doing?
  • Are you restricted by travel/facilities?
  • What kind of area do you want to focus on? E.g. Strength, endurance, cardio.
  • When will you feel most motivated to exercise?

Use your weekends to be adventurous

If your exercise routine has become a little monotonous of late, use your free time to be more adventurous.

Having been cooped up at home for so long during the course of 2020, I find it is really refreshing to get out and explore new places. You could check out small hill walks in your area, or take a trip to a country park you haven't seen in a while. Fancy something different? Give water sports a try, such as kayaking or canoeing, while the weather is still nice– even a pedalo on a small pond will get the legs working!

These kinds of activities are good because the whole family can get involved. It is also something a little bit different that friends can do together. This keeps exercise sociable, fun and motivating.

Exercise in little bursts

If exercise has taken a backseat in the past few weeks, don't expect to jump back to your lockdown levels. Instead, aim to exercise in little stints to build up your stamina and strength.

To help work towards this, try alternating between 5 minutes running and 5 minutes jogging for a period of 20 minutes. You could aim to do this a couple of times a week. If this seems a bit much, get active around the house by cleaning, gardening and tidying. A ten-minute fast-paced walk completed a few times a week will also be beneficial.

My self-care tip: Try exercising outdoors

Are you struggling to find the motivation to exercise? Watch my video below for some tips on how outdoor exercise may be the way to go!

Involve others

If you are able to maintain regular activity, then talk to family and friends that may be losing motivation. Get them involved in what you are doing or work out something you can enjoy together. I find that I often forget I am exercising when I am doing it with other people, as we talk or distract each other.

Think about joining a club

If you have become used to doing the same activity, the same route and the same distance each week, perhaps it is time to take your sport to the next level and join a club.

This can be a great way to get motivated, push yourself harder than you would alone and notch up new achievements. Plus, there is a huge social aspect to clubs – you meet new people who will encourage you in your goals and may even be willing to do extra workouts with you outside club time.

Although closed during lockdown, most outdoor clubs, such as hillwalking and running, are now back up and operating, albeit at a smaller capacity than previously.


My Top Tip:


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Set yourself new challenges

It is very easy to get stuck in a rut of doing the same activity week after week, but this can become boring and you may find yourself cutting down on the amount of exercise you do as a result.

So, if you have built up distance running, for example, perhaps now its time to work on sprints and hill starts to build up stamina, strength and skill. If you have been using beginner's workouts online, take it up a notch to advanced.

Alternatively, try something completely new! You can take a look at my blog Bored of exercising? Try these unique sports! for suggestions.

Did you know? You may be more likely to exercise if you do it earlier in the day rather than leaving it later when excuses are easier to come by!2

References

1 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/excess-weight-and-covid-19-insights-from-new-evidence 

2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22617393/ 

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