With many of us facing another lockdown and increasingly grim weather, it’s hard to muster up the motivation to workout – particularly when you’ve got a box of chocolates left over from Christmas and plenty of Netflix to catch up on.
However, it’s more important than ever to keep our bodies and minds fit and healthy throughout the latest set of Covid restrictions.
If you’re ready to fall back in love with exercise, these tips will help jump-start your journey…
Plan, plan, plan
It might not be sexiest piece of advice, but planning your workouts will help you actually do them. “Just as you will be booking in meetings for work, book in your workouts,” says Rachael Penrose, trainer at F45.
For Katie Anderson, head of training at FLY LDN, this comes hand in hand with putting goals in place. “Set yourself an intention to either go for a brisk 30-minute walk per day, or set yourself a distance,” she says. “A 5k walk would take you around 50 minutes to walk, but you will feel the world of good from doing it. Don’t have the time? Schedule a work call as you are out walking, pop your headphones in and walk and talk.”
Charlie Dean, health adviser for Bupa Health Clinics, thinks success hinges on flexibility. “If you’re struggling to maintain a routine, try setting more flexible goals,” he says. “For example, set yourself a target of running five miles a week, rather than dedicating specific days.”
Join a community
If you’re missing the camaraderie of group classes, why not try a virtual version? Joining a new online community – such as FLY LDN Online, Fiit, Frame Online or 1Rebel TV – will help kickstart your workout.
“Feeling a part of a community and moving with others can help with motivation levels,” explains Anderson. Plenty of these online portals have live classes, so you can set yourself a specific time to log on and exercise – similar to booking a class at the gym, except you don’t have to leave the house.
You can even get your friends involved and set up dates to do the same classes. “You’ll not only have fun and feel great after but it’s a fantastic way to keep yourself accountable as no one likes to cancel on their friends,” says Penrose.
Corinne Naomi, fitness programme manager at Fiit, suggests setting yourself a fitness challenge for this lockdown like the Fiit Winter Burrrn. “They offer extrinsic motivation and are great at keeping you on track and accountable,” she says.
One of the biggest barriers to exercising in January is just how cold it is outside. A look at the plummeting temperatures and grey skies is enough to send anyone back to bed – which is why Dr Luke Powles, associate clinical director for Bupa Health Clinics, recommends preparing yourself properly, so you’re less likely to give up on that run.
He says: “Firstly, make sure you take extra time warming up. Your muscles perform best when they’re warmer, so warm up properly – and for longer than you would in summer – to ensure you’re reducing your risk of injury.
“Secondly, make sure you’re protected from the elements. Rain or wind can make you feel even colder than it is outside – a sure-fire way to take the fun out of exercise!
“Try layering your sports kit, so you can easily remove items as your temperature increases and wear gloves to protect your fingers. Keeping warm will help you keep motivated.”
Be kind to yourself
Exercise is so much more than just physical. If you’re feeling demotivated, it might be a good idea to pay attention to your mental health and cut yourself some slack.
“It is ok to feel anxious, on edge or uneasy during these times,” says Naomi. “Recognise this and try to connect to the present moment. This can be through journaling, yoga, or breathwork.”
Dean agrees, saying: “While any exercise routine will take dedication to maintain, it’s important to remember that it’s ok to miss a day occasionally. Exercise is about feeling good, so do what’s right for you. Especially during this lockdown, there’ll be days when the weather is too bad – or you simply don’t feel like getting out to exercise. This is normal and there’s no need to beat yourself up.”
And who knows – after a day off and dedicating a bit of time to yourself, you might find yourself ready and raring to go again.