For most people, the easiest way to stay active is to include movement in their everyday life.
Some great ways to get active each day are walking or cycling to get around, taking part in social activities that get your heart pumping like joining a sports team or going to a Zumba class, running to catch the bus or going to the gym after work.
But what happens when your daily routine changes and you can no longer get out and about, or fit activity in between children, chores and work?
Don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to keep moving without even having to open your front door, you just have to get a bit inventive!
Being active is important for both our physical and mental health.
It’s not about getting six packs or running marathons – keeping active gives you more energy, helps you sleep better and it’ll also make you feel more positive. Long term, moving each day will also help protect you from developing long-term health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers.
Just 10 minutes will make you feel happier, but to get the true health benefits children should be getting at least an hour of activity a day, with adults getting around 30 minutes daily.
If popping out to a sports club or exercising during your commute aren’t an option, there are plenty of ways you can get creative around the house. Just remember, as long as your heart beats a little quicker and it raises your temperature, it’s doing you good.
Sock ball: tennis is a great activity because it gets your heart beating, strengthens your muscles, and also helps develop your hand eye co-ordination. If you don’t have access to a tennis court then ‘sock ball’ is the next best thing. All you need are some rolled up socks and a frying pan, book or similar flat object to use as a bat.
Tip: make sure you remove any precious items before you let the kids loose! If you have bigger children with a stronger arm, perhaps replace the socks with a balloon so it’s less likely to cause damage.
Turn up the volume: dancing is another fantastic way to get the whole body moving and lift your spirits – all you need is some music!
Of course, not all kids are happy to get on their feet – you may struggle to get them off their smartphones and tablets. If this is the case, try a bit of gentle coaxing by encouraging them to dance to a song before they get their dinner, or swap 10 minutes of dancing for 10 minutes of screen time credit! Why not get the kids involved by letting them put together a playlist? They’re far more likely to take part if they have some input. Maybe each week can be a different DJ set hosted by a different member of your family?
If you live alone this is also a great way to get some activity in – no one’s around to see your dodgy dancing. And if you want a dance party? Why not have an online videocall party?
Tip: You can always make it more fun by dressing up in disco outfits, using glow sticks or choosing a fun venue such as the shower or basement?
Step up: If you have stairs then this is a great way to increase your movement throughout the day. Instead of walking slowly up and down, why not take them two at a time? Or double up - go up and down twice (instead of once) every time you need to go up or down stairs to get something?
Tip: If you don’t have stairs, why not use your front or back step to do some step ups? Make sure you do the same amount for each leg!
Ad break challenge: Sitting still for long periods of time can negatively affect your health. It slows your metabolism and affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight.
A great way to introduce movement into your day is doing some quick moves during the ad breaks. Why not set up some ‘work out’ stations around your living room similar to a circuit class? Each ‘station’ comprises of a different challenge - eg. squats, running on the spot, lunges, sit to stand (great way to use the sofa for something other than sitting!) or weights with tins of beans. During am ad break everyone takes a different station for the duration of the ad break. Next ad break – move on to the next exercise!
Tip: if you’re struggling to get everyone up and on their feet, hide the remote and make being able to see the next part of the programme a reward for taking part!
Go crazy: There are lots of activities that can be done round the house, no matter what your age or ability. If you’re struggling for ideas there are lots of tutorials and classes online. Sometimes it can just be good to let a little loose and go crazy. This is especially good if you’ve got pent up energy and emotions from being inside for too long.
You could have a pillow fight, bounce on the beds, run races round the living room, hopscotch in the hall, use your stairs to exercises, do the silliest dance moves you can think of, see who can jump up and down on the spot for the longest…
It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are up on your feet and it feels good for you and your family. Why not share your fun fitness hacks with us at #KeepGMMoving? www.greatersport.co.uk/KeepGMMoving
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic numerous organisations have been conducting research and exploring the implications of the pandemic and lockdown on a number of factors, including physical activity.
Better Health will help capture the imagination of the nation, using this unique moment in time to help kick start our health – to eat better and get moving.