Actress, singer and broadcaster Denise Van Outen is anticipating an “exciting” winter, as it’s just been announced that she’s set to join the next series of ITV’s Dancing on Ice.
Van Outen, who is supporting a new campaign by Uswitch (uswitch.com), admits she’s been busier than ever since lockdown, juggling work, homeschooling and staying on top of housework – and recent research from the energy comparison site found one in three Brits admit they would pay someone £200 to offload their domestic chores if they could.
Here, we caught 10 minutes with the West End star to find out how she spends her downtime, and how she looks after her health and wellbeing…
Why do you think free time is so valuable?
“In this day and age, we’re all very guilty of taking on too much. I know I’m always super busy, trying to do a million things and juggling being a mum while working,” says Van Outen, 46, who has a 10-year-old daughter, Betsy.
“Between school runs, rushing around at work and keeping the house sorted, free time is something I very rarely get. I think that’s the same for most people.
“In recent months, things have changed slightly, but when you’re commuting to and from work, it can very time-consuming. You’ll always have a list of things at home that you want to get done but you just never get around to doing it.”
What would you do if you had more free time on your hands?
“I’d have a big clear-out. In recent months, I’ve looked through my wardrobe and realised I’m actually a bit of a hoarder. I’ve got clothes I’ve kept since the Nineties that I know I’m never going to wear again.
“You think to yourself, ‘Why do I keep these things?’ Just in the hope that one day it’s going to come back into fashion.
“I cannot bare ironing too, so that’s something I always put on the backburner, and think, ‘Oh I’ll do that next week’. Finding the time to get everything done would just be such a weight off my shoulders.”
How do you like to chill out when you’re not working?
“I love going for nice long walks with the dog. We live next to a forest, so that’s always lovely. When we went into lockdown and were allowed to go out for one form of exercise a day, we rediscovered a love of walking, cycling and just exploring where we live.
“It clears your head as well. It’s your chance to just take a step away from everything.”
What’s your fitness routine at the moment?
“I just try and do a little bit of exercise every day, as much as I can. I don’t do a lot, maybe like half an hour, but it’s just enough to get the blood pumping.
“Obviously, I’m 46 now and I just feel like it’s really important to keep your bones strong, keep yourself fit and healthy, and keep yourself supple. It’s not just physically strong, it’s mentally strong as well,” says the Essex-born star.
“I’ve got a friend that I work with locally, so we just do a little assault course in the garden with some weights. I don’t always do loads of cardio, sometimes I’ll just do weights. I think the main thing with exercise is to just make sure it’s something you enjoy.
“I’ve tried things like boot camps before, but the pressure in those places! I’ve been in a class with a lot of other ‘body beautiful’ people, where they’re just hammering away on the treadmill. I just can’t do that, so you come out feeling a bit deflated. Whereas at home, I’ll make it a bit of fun, and not put too much pressure on myself to the point where I’m thinking, ‘ I don’t want to do this again tomorrow’.”
Has your relationship with fitness changed over the decades?
“With age it has, definitely. It’s made me more aware of my body and looking after myself. I think when you become a mum as well, and you’ve got a child that you’re looking after, you want to be around for them.
“So I’m like, ‘OK, there are a few things that need to be changed here’. I need to just really look after myself.”
What’s your diet like?
“It’s everything in moderation with me, so I do allow myself treats. I try not to cut out too many things, just purely because I think you crave them more.
“Eddie [Boxshall, Van Outen’s boyfriend] could eat a bar of chocolate every night, but I’m more savoury, so things like crisps and cheese and are my downfall.
“I think as long as you’re exercising and being sensible, then you should be able to enjoy those things too.”
Do you have any routines or rituals you do to protect your wellbeing?
“Exercise. Honestly, people have said to me for years that it makes you feel great, and it’s so true.
“If I’ve got a day when I’m not feeling great – this whole year has been strange for most of us – just getting up and getting outside in the fresh air makes a massive difference to how I feel.”