Singing, PE and working on a cardboard box to keep fit during lockdown - Alastair Dalton
Week three of the lockdown and I’m concerned about the virus - but more worried about getting enough exercise.
Working from home (WFH) cuts out the daily commute, but also much of my step count.
Walking from bedroom to kitchen or living room “office” is a fraction of the distance normally covered by those who drive to work, and you’re likely to move around much less at home than you would at your workplace.
For those WFH, furloughed, or otherwise finding themselves at a loose end, the strange predicament we find ourselves in presents both opportunities and temptations.
If you have more time on your hands, there’s the chance to get fit, or fitter. But equally, there’s the option to become less active - sleep in, slump in front of the TV for longer and drink more.
I was concerned about that - apart from the alcohol - for our teenagers, especially as it’s now technically the Easter school holidays and a chance to overindulge on their screens.
It would have been somewhat hypocritical for their WFH parents - glued to their work laptops - to reprimand them, so it’s heartening to find them finally rediscovering simple pleasures like playing catch and kicking a ball about.
My daughter has even dusted off a scooter she said she’d never ride again, and has rigged up a basketball hoop fashioned from a coat hanger.
Of course, we are more fortunate than many in having a small garden for such activities to ease the cabin fever.
Gardening - including at allotments, if you have one - are other options.
However, on occasions, we have had to drag our kids out for a daily walk outside the house.
Many families will be torn between the need to get out and stretch their legs with the understandable apprehension about staying safe.
However, experts have told me that being outdoors also benefits mental health, such as helping to reduce stress and anxiety, and the sense of isolation if you’re on your own.
Living Streets, the walking campaigners, said even a regular 20-minute walk could prevent long-term health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.
But in the home, physical health experts pointed out there are a range of options available, including a bewildering choice of online fitness activities from yoga and pilates to workouts and strength building.
Even choirmaster Gareth Malone’s Great British Home Chorus - which is getting me back into singing - starts its YouTube sessions with body warm-up exercises.
I’ve yet to try Just Dance on the Wii but that will at least give the rest of the family a laugh.
I’m told it’s helpful to get into a routine, and I now start the day with Joe Wicks’ PE class along with 1 million others worldwide.
It’s even something I look forward to, knowing I’ve got a dose of exercise in early in case I run out of time later.
Finally, working from home has other potential pitfalls, and several colleagues are already complaining of back pain from sitting for long hours in unsuitable chairs.
I noticed this myself on the first day and have created a standing desk using an upturned cardboard box on our living room table. Worried that something so easy to set up might not be a good idea,
I was relieved to discover it really was that simple when Edinburgh University physical activity lecturer Dr Paul Kelly told me he had done just that himself.
I just hope it’s not cheating by taking my shoes off and enjoying standing on the soft carpet in socks.
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