Getting motivated to exercise outdoors during the cold, dark winter months can be challenging. Keeping physically active this winter, while the gyms and sports facilities are closed due to COVID-19, presents us with a unique challenge. Regular physical activity is strongly associated with a reduced risk of chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes as well as improving mental health. Even small increases in physical activity can positively impact on health. Heart Research UK have some tips to help you keep active when staying at home.
Exercises you can do inside your home
Find exercises that you can do at home in short bursts of ten minutes or more, at regular intervals throughout the day. For example, you could try some gentle weight-lifting, using cans of baked beans. The NHS provide tips for exercising without gym equipment: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/gym-free-workouts/
Replace your daily commute with physical activity
If you are working, or studying from home, you may be saving time that would normally be spent on your daily commute. Why not put this time to good use by scheduling in some physical activity. For example, you could go for a brisk walk, jog or cycle outdoors or walk briskly around the house, including going up and down flights of stairs.
Don’t be a couch potato
Rather than spending your evenings sitting on the sofa without moving much, why not try a few gentle exercises, such as leg raises, while watching your favourite TV show. Examples of some exercises you can do from your sofa can be found on the NHS website: www.nhs.uk/Livewell/fitness/Documents/sofa-workout.jpg
Reduce screen time for kids
It is common for children and young people to spend too much time sitting in front of a screen. Why not talk to your children about the importance of staying active and agree on a set amount of screen time each day/week and schedule in some time for getting active. You can find some fun indoor activities for kids on the Change 4 Life website: Indoor Activities for Kids | Kids’ Activities | Change4Life (www.nhs.uk)
Find hobbies that get you moving
If you tend to engage in hobbies that don’t require you to move very much, look for new hobbies that will get you moving, such as gardening, walking, weight-lifting or dancing.
Avoid long periods of inactivity
Set a timer to go off at specific times throughout the day to prompt you to do ten (or more) minutes of physical activity. Any activity is better than none. You can include a variety of light, moderate and vigorous activities. E.g. a brisk walk, sit-ups, weight-lifting, gardening or housework.