For many of us the spread of coronavirus has meant that parts of our lives are massively disrupted, which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. If you are someone who is used to exercising regularly you are likely to be finding that many of the activities you are used to doing are no longer an option, at least in their normal form. Gyms are closed, running groups are cancelled, you can’t meet up and exercise in groups and other sports clubs are cancelled. The good news is that there are still things you can be doing to stay active, which will help your physical and mental health during this challenging time. This blog post will outline some of these.
Have a routine
One of the strangest things at the moment is the sudden change in routine for many people. You may be working from home, have children at home during the day and not have the structure of exercise classes and activities you are used to. Despite this, you can maintain an exercise routine in your life during this time. For example, if you normally go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays you can still do a workout at home on these days. Or if you are used to doing a track session with your running club on a Thursday night you can do a speed based session on your own during this time (as long as you are allowed to exercise outside according to government guidance).
Having a routine will make your life feel a bit more normal and will help you to feel like you are making progress during this time. You might need to adapt your routine a bit due to having children at home etc. but find something that works for you and try to stick to it.
Sign up for a virtual race
As a runner I see daily on Twitter that races are being cancelled or postponed. This is obviously in the best interests of everyone but can still feel disappointing when you have a goal in mind and suddenly the race you were aiming for is gone. As long as you are still able to run outside (I know runners ‘need’ to go running often but if you have been told to stay inside under government guidelines then please do so, it is in your best interests) you could decide to sign up for a virtual race instead.
There are lots of different options available but the general idea is that you sign up, run a certain distance, submit some evidence and for some you then get sent a medal. So, if you were due to do the London Marathon in April you could instead sign up for a virtual marathon in April so all your hard work training isn’t wasted, for example.
Some providers of virtual races are:
- Virtual Racing UK (with options for monthly, ongoing and annual challenges)
- Race At Your Pace (with medals for running a set distance in a month)
- Race The World (virtual races along long distance paths or between landmarks etc.)
- My Virtual Mission (you plan a route on a world map and see yourself progressing along it)
There are lots of more options, a quick Google search for virtual races will bring up more websites.
Focus on enjoying it
While you might want to pick a virtual race do to, you can also choose to just stray from your normal training and focus on enjoying running instead. Rather than feeling you need to be running certain distances or times you could instead just run for your own enjoyment. Going for an easy run and focusing on enjoying your surroundings might be helpful for some people in this stressful time, and is a completely valid option.
Do gym workouts at home
If you are used to going to the gym regularly you are likely to be finding it hard now gyms are closed. Instead you can focus on training at home instead. Your gym might be putting out workouts or doing live workouts on Facebook, Zoom or Skype so you could join in with those. There are also lots of different options online for gym workouts you can do at home, a quick search on YouTube will bring plenty of options up. Joe Wicks is also doing PE every weekday at 9am, which is a brilliant way to get the whole family exercising.
Another option is to pick four bodyweight movements such as squats, lunges, burpees or press ups and allocate each one to different cards suit. You then shuffle the cards and do however many reps of each movement comes up on the cards. For example, if hearts is lunges and a six comes up you do six lunges and then move onto the next card. This will keep your workouts varied. You can also use this with any gym equipment you have at home such as resistance bands or kettlebells and just adapt the movements you pick to fit this.
This time is also ideal to focus on the things that often get neglected. For example you could spend more time on stretching and mobility work, or focus on single leg stability work (this is something I have been doing a lot of recently to help with running).
You could also pick one movement to focus on, based on the equipment you have available. As I have minimal equipment I have decided to focus on getting better at pistol squats during this time. This way even though I can’t do the normal workouts I do, I still feel like I am making progress during this strange time.
Even if you can’t go to the gym, go to a running club or meet your friends to go for a bike ride together you can still keep in touch virtually. For example you could do a bodyweight workout over Facetime, compare times on the same run with a friend or join a yoga class online. Just keeping in touch with people is important and will help you feel connected to the people you are used to seeing regularly.
It is always important to stay accountable to exercise, especially during this difficult time. To help with this you could arrange to check in with a friend everyday to make sure that you have both done exercise, or do a group workout online.
I also have a running goal setting accountability programme which will provide you with additional support to stay active. This will help you to stay committed to running and doing other exercise inside during this difficult time. You will receive two emails a week from me, one phone call a month, along with other support. You can find out more and sign up here.
I hope this has helped you to get some ideas of what you can be doing during this confusing time. Let me know in the comments below what you are doing.
Happy exercising 🙂