Collage created by Ellen with Image from Pexels
Ellen Joseph promotes healthy exercising habits at home
On 20th March 2020, Boris Johnson announced that all cafes, pubs, leisure centres, theatres, cinemas, and gyms would close in order to enforce social distancing to keep us safe during the coronavirus outbreak.
For almost a year now, the country has dipped in and out of lockdown causing inconvenience to many and with devastating effects for some.
How lockdown bored us into exercise
Undoubtedly, one of the groups affected has been avid gym-goers. However, while some have traded in their activewear for loungewear, many have had no choice but to adapt to rapid changes in the world.
Some have been fortunate enough to be able to invest in home-gyms and there has been a rise in the popularity of fitness apps and YouTube channels.
One quick, efficient and low-cost way of incorporating exercise into your routine is the high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, which you can do in your bedroom. If you are interested in HIIT and want to learn more, check out this beginner’s guide from Joe Wicks, author of the Lean In 15 book series.
Especially in such trying times, it is most important that we take care of our mental and physical health. According to NHS research, there has been an amazing 92% increase in downloads of Public Health England’s Couch to 5k app compared to 2019. This and other fitness apps have helped beginners and those more advanced in taking positive steps towards a healthier lifestyle.
Not everyone’s fitness journey is smooth sailing, especially when locked up inside with nothing much to do all day
The potential danger
Of course, not everyone’s fitness journey is smooth sailing, especially when locked up inside with nothing much to do all day.
While most develop a healthy relationship with exercise, I have found it interesting that, for some, it becomes an addiction. According to a survey by the Yale Journal of Biological Medicine, addiction to exercise affects about 3% of the population. Exercise makes us release the neurotransmitters dopamine and endorphins which produce a natural high and pain relief, which can make it as addictive as drug use.
But like any addiction, underlying depression and anxiety could be worsened by an unhealthy relationship or obsession with fitness. The world is certainly a scary place right now and if you are struggling with feelings of sadness or anxiety, there is always help. Support is available from the Mental Health Foundation and you can also contact the Samaritans if you need someone to talk to.
Despite some cases in which over-exercising can exacerbate mental health issues, getting a moderate amount into your routine can only bring positive results.
My path to loving exercise
At the start of the first lockdown, I was a couch potato. After a few weeks, I had watched everything on Netflix, done copious amounts of online shopping, and social media had become tiresome. Out of what seemed like pure boredom and relentless recommendations on my YouTube homepage, I clicked on Chloe Ting’s Abs Workout Challenge and from then on, I was hooked.
A slight burn in my muscles and excitement to work up a sweat became my norm. Once I became confident that this was a permanent lifestyle change for the better, I began purchasing dumbbells, resistance bands, a skipping rope and a fitness mat.
With the uncertainty brought by this pandemic, particularly in regard to education, a daily sweat session has done wonders for me
The visible improvement in my form, strength and resilience has encouraged me to continue down this path. I originally worried that, after college started back up, I would fall out of my healthy habits; but I’ve found that if you truly enjoy something you will somehow find the time for it.
To be honest, it’s not always been easy to keep my exercise routine going, with work piling up, but, for my own sanity, I am glad I haven’t quit.
What’s most important, when embarking on this journey at home, is to find something that makes working out enjoyable. In my experience, time flies when I’m working out with Sydney Cummings. Her powerful words motivate me to push for one more repetition.
Working out has become a way for me to take care of my wellbeing, especially in the long, dark, winter nights of the third lockdown. Having a routine and sticking to it has positively impacted my mood and focus. With the uncertainty brought by this pandemic, particularly in regard to education, a daily sweat session has done wonders for me.
It’s comforting to know that on a stressful day, for an hour or two, I can forget the troubles of the world and my mind is at peace. I feel alive with my legs on fire and my heart beating hard in my chest.
Stay safe and keep fit!
Check out this handy guide of the various sorts of virtual exercise available, what’s on the horizon, and why this approach of getting your pulse racing might just be the solution you’ve been looking for.