During this period of extended lockdown, we’re all feeling it now as our normal routes to exercise and getting out as much as we like are still far from back to normal – even given the recent relaxation of some lockdown measures.
For many of us, the closing of gyms, bootcamps and classes was a big shock to the system, and sometimes it’s just not the same finding that personal motivation, when you’ve been used to feeding off the company of others, or a regular schedule of when you took exercise and went to a location (now unavailable to take part as a group.
So, if you’ve really not been up to much, you’re probably feeling it both a little physically and not least in your mental wellbeing. You are certainly not alone in this.
If you have a disability or recuperating from injury with only a few exercise options open to you, this can further compound the situation.
I’m not coming at this as a professional personal trainer or exercise guru, I am a member of a regular bootcamp that’s had to be shelved for the last couple of months, and I have to admit, although they swapped to online classes, it’s really not the same and my enthusiasm has somewhat flattened, as well as my general mood.
So personally, I’ve really just swapped to doing some really simple stuff as maintenance to hopefully keep me reasonably ready, ‘till when I can get back to the gym or get back to my park bootcamp.
One thing I have noticed over this period, is that even doing just something, (and I mean here, not a lot at all), can make my mood a little better and things like my appetite improve, and the dreaded lethargy lighten.
This for me looks like a few stretches here and there, throwing a few punches whilst watching a movie, lifting a light dumbbell before bed a few times, or a few press-ups…etc.
I’m also lucky enough to have a dog, so again, getting a few walks in with him, gets me out of the house and breathing in some decent fresh air (fresher now than it ever has been).
The link between exercise and mental health is well known to many, and I don’t think its rocket-science to know that releasing a few endorphins and getting the old ticker up a bit, is a good thing, to make us feel happier and lift a flat mood.
But with lockdown, it’s tested even the strongest of us, as we’ve had to dig deep just to feel ok, given the serious financial hardships, and break in our normal routines, it’s really no surprise to learn that sales of alcohol have shot up in recent weeks, as we’ve looked for solace in other distractions.
In the title of this article, I mentioned ‘gentle’ exercise, and I think that it’s a good point to make that when you’ve fallen off your normal routine and your ‘lockdown lethargy’ has robbed you of your normal motivation to exercise, then starting small is good and doing a few bits and pieces of exercise in small portions, as I mentioned in my own journey, can be beneficial.
One thing I have noticed for myself, is that the couple of injuries I had been carrying for weeks leading up to lockdown, that being a sore elbow tendon and what I think was a mild groin strain, have all but disappeared, as my rest periods have allowed the affected areas to heal slowly and naturally.
If you do have a mild disability or strain, there are products that can help you undertake exercise while seated, such as the economy pedal exerciser, coming in at under £35 this simple pedaller helps to improve circulation/ muscle strength and can be used at the home desk, or from the sofa while reading or watching television.
Again, it’s a gentle almost passive exercise, but it burns a decent amount of calories and an activity that’s good when listening to music, so a good alternative if you want to just tick over your strength and cardio endurance while you’re at home.
Many of us have turned to running or cycling during lockdown, dusting off the old road bike that’s been retired in the garage for months and going out on the roads to burn off a few calories and keep fit and mentally alert.
With these activities being new, or revisited after some considerable time away, there have been the odd muscle strains, sprains and aches along the way as the body has adapted to doing the new regime.
If you do have an injury, or want to prevent one in the first place, a good product that’s an alternative to the general Deep Freeze or Voltarol from the supermarket, is BioFreeze, the number 1 recommended pain reliever by health professionals.
BioFreeze helps to cool the affected area, whilst also having a very good pain relieving function so you can use and carry on your running or cycling without the associated pain to put you off.
I know from my own personal experience, that when we’re forced to reduce, or stop altogether, what we do for exercise and mental build-up release, things like old anxieties, worries, depression and low mood can definitely build up.
The best advice I can give personally, and again, this is not from any professional perspective, just from my own lockdown journey, is to start with something small and easy, ‘baby steps’ if you will…
It might look like doing 5 of one simple thing – you choose.
Then 5 again later in the day.
Just try to do something and don’t overthink it. Don’t think that just because it’s almost nothing compared to what others are posting on social media, that it doesn’t count. it does, and even the small efforts make for good results, especially in how you feel, that’s certainly been my own experience when I’ve had to fight back from total lethargy to re-start.
Phil Ashforth is a staff writer for Mobility Smart, an online retailer of health, wellbeing and mobility equipment to help you recover from injury and recuperation, or just helping solve your mobility issues in normal daily life, you’ll find their website here.