For me, being active and good mental wellbeing go hand in hand. Being active always gives my mood a boost and helps to improve my self-confidence.
When the lockdown measures were announced I was so relieved that we were still allowed to go outside once a day to exercise – I was pleased that the government recognised how important this is to not only our physical health but also our mental health.
Like many others though, I have had to make changes to my usual routines. I didn’t realise how active I normally am, and how much I take this for granted! A typical day for me would normally be walking my dog before work, a walk round town at lunch time and a run after work. Now my priority is walking my dog, which I do at lunch time. It’s a really nice way to break up my day of working at home. We’ve been blessed with beautiful weather recently and I enjoy taking in the views of the countryside, seeing lambs in the fields and appreciating all the blossoms and spring flowers.
I am lucky enough to have a treadmill at home, so I’ve been able to keep up my running – not the same as running outside in the fresh air, but it ticks the box. I’ve also recently discovered how many home workouts there are which I can follow on YouTube. I won’t name the ones I’ve been doing, but if I say “bunny hops, Spiderman lunges and Pikachus” I think some people will know what I mean! From learning dance routines, to kettlebell workouts, to yoga and everything in between – there really is something for everyone and endless ways to be active while staying safe at home.
I am really looking forward to a time when I can meet up with friends again for a run or walk, go back to my running clubs and take part in outdoor events such as parkrun and races again. However, I will do this with a new appreciation for these simple things I once took for granted. I also plan to keep up with my home workouts, as I’m one of those people who pays a monthly gym membership and rarely uses it!
My tips for anyone wanting to get more active at this time are: start slowly and build up. For example if you want to start running you can download a free Couch to 5k app to follow. With home workouts, don’t be afraid to try something different. Being active should be fun and something you look forward to. Having said that, it’s absolutely ok (and normal!) if you don’t always feel motivated. It takes time to make exercise a routine and we all have off days. Listen to your body and take a rest day if you need to – you can still be active on a rest day but make it something low impact like a walk or a stretching routine. On days when motivation is hard to come by, try to remember how much better you’ll feel once you’ve got active. Try it for 5-10 minutes and if you still don’t feel better then at least you’ve tried! Final tip is, of course, please make sure you’re adhering to current government guidelines around social distancing and exercising outdoors.
Lancashire Mind have launched the 30:30 challenge which is all about getting active for 30 minutes a day – it's not too late to get involved. Why not sign up with your friends and family? Even whilst we can’t meet up with people to exercise we can still encourage each other from afar. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you feel happy!
I would love to hear about the different ways you’re being active to boost your wellbeing during this time.