Working out in the New Normal
Fitness instructor Stephanie Wilson on the importance of keeping fit during lockdown
As an active individual who has grown up in Richmond Borough and really benefitted from the wealth of sporting opportunities, open spaces and fitness facilities in the local area, I’ve always advocated that exercise can make your body and mind feel great. I love nothing more than the rush of positivity and pride that comes from working out and wish to share that experience with others, which is why I recently qualified as a Level 2 Group Fitness Instructor.
The power of physical activity to boost mental wellness is no secret and here are my top five reasons.
Reasons why working out aids mental wellness:
- It encourages mindfulness – when you’re engaged in physical activity, it’s much easier to be present in the moment, focussing on how your body is moving rather than fretting over worries of the future or problems from the past.
- It increases blood flow to the brain – giving more oxygen, which in turn improves mental focus, clarity and concentration so you feel able to tackle other tasks throughout your day.
- It boosts self-esteem – the feeling of accomplishment you get from successfully finishing a workout and sense of pride that comes with appreciating what your body can do transfers into an overall boost of confidence in yourself.
- It releases ‘happy hormones’ – specifically serotonin and endorphins, which act to give you innate feelings of joy, positivity and optimism that can last for hours after exercising.
- It promotes structure/routine – planning a morning run or setting a reminder to do your daily stretches can give substance to your schedule and make you feel like you have something to look forward to, which can reduce boredom and anxiety.
As the ‘new normal’ becomes a reality and we adjust to a more isolated, uncertain existence, moving our bodies is one of the best ways we can stay happy and healthy.
Although gyms are closed and spin classes are cancelled, I strongly encourage you to experiment with different ways to get active in your home.
You may not come out of this with abs of steel or the endurance of a marathon runner, but any form of regular, moderate intensity movement could be just what you need to stay sane in the current climate.
Ways to add exercise into your lockdown lifestyle:
- Go for a morning walk – take a long stroll or jog first thing in the morning. Not only will you be adding to your step count but you’ll have a chance to appreciate the local area, get some fresh air and clear some headspace early on.
- Do a home workout – there’s a wealth of workout inspiration online (see Stephanie’s separate Online Resources for Movement Motivation article) so now is the perfect time to try out some exercise sequences at home. Don’t worry if you don’t have any equipment, water bottles can make great dumbbell alternatives and you can still get a sweat on with just your bodyweight.
- Help with housework – from hoovering the hallways to cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, doing physically demanding domestic jobs is a fab way to keep active and move your body, whilst also making your living environment a more pleasant place to be.
- Dance before dinner – this may feel a bit silly to some, but try playing some of your favourite music and dancing around the kitchen/living room whilst waiting for dinner to cook in the evening or during ad breaks when you’re watching TV. A quick boogie is the perfect way to get those endorphins flowing and let off some steam.
- Bedtime stretches/yoga – releasing tension with some yoga or mobility exercises before you go to sleep will do wonders for your muscles and mindset. Even 10-15 minutes of simple stretches at bedtime will help you wind down and ease any stress-related stiffness or tightness in your body.
- wellness is a work in progress and rest/recovery are an essential part of maintaining a sustainable, beneficial active lifestyle
- be patient with yourself as you embark on adding more movement into your routine and ensure you take at least one day off intense exercise a week
- physical activity should always be complemented with a healthy sleep schedule, nutritious/balanced diet and be undertaken in a safe space – please don’t injure yourself by doing any dangerous or extreme workouts!
If you would like personalised advice on which specific exercises/training styles you should opt for or a free home workout plan that is unique to you, please feel free to get in touch. My email address is [email protected] and my Instagram username is @astrongersteph.
I hope everyone is remaining well and taking care of themselves during this difficult time.