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Being in the unprecedented situation of lockdown has presented us all with many new problems, not least, how to keep ourselves fit and healthy and mentally alert as we struggle with a lack of the normal options of things to do. Being cooped in, whilst doing our bit to minimize the spread of the virus, has many potentially negative side effects, as we have to fight with the new mental paradigm and at a most basic level, fight off the inevitable feelings of boredom and lethargy in our homes.
For those without a garden or outdoor space, it’s many times worse, whether we are alone, or with others, the term ‘stir crazy’ becomes one which we are intimately aware of, as never before!
Keeping up some sort of basic exercise sounds logical and can be a good contributor to mental well-being, as well as physical, but what if your get-up-and-go has really left the building? What if you really know it would do you good, but you have little motivation, other than lifting the kettle, crisp bag or wine bottle?
The old saying, ‘the longest journey starts with a single step’ comes to mind here, in that when your motivation is gone, you have to start really small, and work upwards.
An ex Royal Marine, now personal trainer, once told me that physical fitness is really just down to a few very basic exercises, which formed the core of all the more complex exercises as you work your way in and get stronger.
I remembered this many times over the years, even long before being in lockdown, as I would be out of exercise routine, at a loose end that turned into weeks of inactivity… or when struggling to return to fitness after a strain, or more serious injury from which I was recuperating.
I would get to that day when I’d really just had enough of not moving my body, and feel that I HAD to do something, even if tiny to begin with.
My method back then, and still today, was starting with a 5. Which just means taking any exercise and doing 5 of them then stopping for the day.
For me personally, this may have been five press-ups with the knees on the floor, or just walking on the spot for five steps, lifting a couple of cans of beans… in fact, it can be anything you can think of, or find on Google, as long as it’s easy and well within your capabilities.
Then the next day, you simply take the few seconds and do it again, or choose five of a new exercise…
Believe it or not, I could actually feel the effects of the first set of five the day before, when doing my next day, proof that something is better than absolutely nothing.
If you carry on this activity, you’ll get a few things happen; firstly, you’ll being to feel better as your self-esteem picks up and you’ll actually begin to look forward to your next mini-session.
Next, you’ll find that you may want to extend your numbers from 5 to 7, or up to 10, as you feel stronger and a little more motivated.
Your body will begin to reward you with a feeling of well-being as your circulation, stamina and muscle resistance begins to increase, all things that I have experienced for myself.
As you go on and keep up, it can become a habit for you, and you will have defeated that initial lethargy that a few days ago would have made you feel like crying of you had to exercise.
If you can get out of the house to get a little fresh air, try to walk even for a few steps in the outdoors, try just 5 or so to begin with, repeat tomorrow…
For anybody with general mobility issues, there are many products and mobility aids to help you support joints and prevent aches, strains or injuries
I am not writing as any personal trainer or exercise guru, just a normal guy whose climbed up the exercise ladder and fallen many times and got back up again.
Always follow your medical advice etc. and take things well within your capabilities, remember that this lockdown isn’t forever, as the saying goes, ‘this too shall pass’ stay safe in the meantime and keep looking at the positives.
Phil Ashforth is a staff writer for Mobility Smart, an online retailer of health, well-being and mobility equipment to help you recover from injury, recuperation and protection of joints and muscles when exercising or just helping you in normal daily life, you’ll find their website here.