How to be healthy, fit and safe amid pandemic
BE ACCOUNTABLE: Setting a deadline for a fitness goal is important to ensure progress
STAY ACTIVE WITH DAILY BRISK WALKS, ONLINE FITNESS CLASSES AND BIKE RIDES WHILE FOLLOWING THE CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS
AS THE days get shorter, and the nights colder, it can be tempting to stay indoors and swap our fitness routine for a night watching our favourite box set.
But exercise is a year-round activity and staying fit has many benefits, especially as we focus on our immunity to keep infections at bay.
From a brisk walk to a bike ride or taking part in an online fitness class, there are many options to stay active – whether as a solo endeavour or as a family activity.
Here are some tips to keep moving while coronavirus restrictions are in place.
1. Find your favourite walking spot: Whether you live in the city, the suburbs or the countryside, walking is one of the simplest activities that can be done daily. Wrap up warm and look for the nearest park or woodlands where you live. Use apps that show you some hiking or walking routes or contact local running or hiking groups where you can join like-minded people for a daily walk to stay fit. Check out ramblers.org.uk to join a walk
2. Create a weekly plan that works for you: If it isn’t in your schedule, you usually won’t get it done. The best way to incorporate exercise into your routine is to sit down with your schedule or calendar on a Sunday and plan the week, says online fitness coach Vina Bhabhani, who runs Healthcare.studio Vee Fitness, which offers tailored plans on health and well-being. “You know the hours you are working and when you are free or have some down time. It could be 45 minutes or 60 minutes, but be specific about what you want to do in that time. Write down the plan. Once this has been scheduled in, it will be a lot easier to actually complete the workout or exercises.” Pin the plan on your fridge or bedroom wall so you see it and it reminds you to complete the plan.
3. Utilise your living space – and what might be in it: Bhabhani says, “You don’t need huge amounts of space and equipment to get active. You can do a variety of exercises while standing up – such as squats, high knees or heel flicks, to name just a few”. You can substitute gym equipment with everyday household items and use them for resistance training and incorporate them as part of your workouts. Bhabhani’s suggestions include using tinned food or bottles of water in place of weights.
4. Don’t underestimate stretching: It can improve your range of motion and prevent loss of flexibility and mobility, says Bhabhani. Stretching can improve posture and decrease back pain. It can also prevent injury and decrease muscle soreness after a workout.
5. Set realistic goals and keep track of your progress: Understand what you want to gain or achieve from exercising. According to Bhabhani, once you have your goal in place, think about why you wish to achieve this goal. With this in mind, start off small and make sure it is something realistic for you to achieve. Ensure you keep measuring your progress and set a deadline for this goal. You may need to break the goal down into short, mid, and long-term goals. These simple steps will help you stay on track and achieve the goal/s.
6. Make it a family event: To hold yourself accountable you can schedule in workouts with a family member within your household, says Bhabhani. Or even do a Zoom session with other members of your family. This will not only be fun but also will push you if you are a competitive individual. Choose workouts and do them together as your family time. Join a local or online fitness class, yoga, or pilates class.
7. Enjoy iconic sights on two wheels: Cycling UK has compiled the latest guidance around coronavirus restrictions and keeps it up to date as changes are announced.
The charity’s spokesperson, Sam Jones, told Eastern Eye: “One of the few avenues of freedom we can all enjoy during the pandemic is the simple pleasure that comes through riding a bike. With the UK government providing funding for councils across the UK to build new cycle lanes and create neighbourhoods safe from rat running, now’s the perfect time to give cycling a go.
“Days are shorter now, so it’s worth planning where and when you’re going to go out for a ride.
“Cycling UK’s journey planner can help you plot the quietest and safest routes, but keep an eye on the clock to try and plan your rides for during the day.
“Either way it is a good idea to make sure that you pack a white front and red rear light, as these are a legal requirement in the hours of darkness.
“When you start riding – don’t be overly ambitious! Aim for somewhere local where you can take a break in peace like a park or traffic free area, and ideally somewhere you can reward yourself with a treat like a hot drink and a healthy snack.
“If it’s bucketing down, don’t feel you have to go out for a ride – there will be a dry day again – hopefully! However, given how quickly the weather can change, it is worth making sure when you head out you pack a good waterproof jacket.
“In the winter months, you also want to look after your extremities, so make sure to wear gloves and keep your feet warm. The rest of your body will naturally heat up when riding, but your hands and feet need a bit more TLC.
“There’s no need to buy new clothes or a new bike to go out cycling (not unless you want to) – what you have will be great to get you started! Just avoid wearing flowing clothes that could get in the chain or wheels.
“If your bike hasn’t been used for a while, then you might also want to make sure it’s safe – head to YouTube and look for M-Check on a bike (www.youtube.com/watch?v=94RqKKbG2GQ). That will give you a good idea of what you need to look for – if anything is wrong, the government is funding free maintenance around England, so wheel it along there to get a proper safety check.
“Part of the fun of cycling is the social side. While, of course, during the pandemic we have to observe the restrictions, you’re still allowed to ride with your household, or as an individual ride with one other person.
“In the colder and wetter seasons, having someone to ride with can be a real incentive. If you’re not an especially confident rider, try riding with someone who is – they can show you quieter routes, pass on helpful tips and give you that encouragement we all need, from time to time. If you don’t know anyone to ride with, or are just looking for some tips or even a bike to ride, it’s worth looking out for your local community cycle club.
“As a charity, Cycling UK has helped set up community cycle clubs across the UK, and these can be a gentle introduction to riding, as well as a great opportunity to meet others from your community. “Above all, don’t think of your bike ride out as a chore – but rather as a treat. Cycling is a great way to see the world at a more sedate pace, and you might just find it helps you get to know your local area that bit better.”
Visit www.cyclinguk.org/coronavirus; www.cyclinguk.org/ride/journey-planner;
For tips and advice on how to keep well, please visit nhs.uk/better-health
It’s that time of year when we can’t make vitamin D from sunshine. To keep your bones and muscles healthy, it’s best to take a vitamin D supplement every day between October and early March. This is especially important as many of us have been indoors more than usual this spring and summer.
You can get vitamin D from most pharmacies, and supermarkets and other retailers. Just 10 micrograms a day is all you need – it’s the same for the whole family.
Are you eligible for a flu jab?
Every year people who are at risk of complications if they get flu are offered the free flu vaccine from the NHS. This is anything but an average year and protecting yourself from flu is more important than ever.
Recent research shows that if you get both flu and coronavirus at the same time you are at risk of being seriously ill with even worse health outcomes.
The flu vaccine is given to people who:
■ are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by March 31, 2021)
■ have certain health conditions
■ are pregnant
■ are in long-stay residential care
■ receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
■ live with someone who’s at high risk from coronavirus (on the NHS
shielded patient list)
■ frontline health or social care workers
* For a full list of health conditions, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/flu-influenzavaccine/
For more information, contact your GP.
Free apps to help improve your health
During a time such as this, it’s important that we look after all aspects of our health.
Try these useful, free apps – each available to download from Apple’s App Store and Google Play – to get you started…
There are more than 150 recipes for easy, balanced meals complete with calorie counts on this NHS-approved app. Save ingredients to your shopping list and search according to meal time or food type.
COUCH TO 5K
Even the most running-averse speak wonders of this nine-week exercise plan, designed for beginners who want to develop and improve their running stamina. You can choose from a range of celebrity coaches to help you through it.
Set goals, track progress and get tips on how to increase the intensity of your walking with the handy Active 10 app. Easy to use, it’s a great starting point to help everyone get moving more.
DRINK FREE DAYS
Cutting down alcohol consumption will not only help you reduce your caloric intake but is also likely to help you feel healthier and save money. This app lets you choose alcohol-free days and provides helpful support.
Make a daunting task all the more surmountable with this helpful app. It offers a four-week programme, complete with practical support, encouragement, milestones and tailored advice to help smokers pursue a healthier, cigarette-free life.
Life hacks: All the above apps are free to download from the App Store and Google Play.