By Dean Hodgkin, Head of Programming at TV.fit | UPDATED: 11:28, 10 April 2020
A lot of people are feeling very anxious being stuck at home during the current pandemic. Cabin fever can quickly set in while the lack of our usual gym routine can take its toll on both our bodies and minds.
Exercise has been proven to directly treat and prevent common mental disorders and recent research has shown that just a single exercise session can tackle a temporary or acute, negative mood state.
Additionally, good mental health keeps you energised and motivated, so keeping the mind healthy is essential for physical fitness.
Getting started, however, isn’t as easy. So, to help us all get through the current lockdown, I thought I would share my 5 top tips for keeping mind and body healthy.
1. STRETCH YOUR LIMITS
Working from home can wreak havoc on our bodies if we’re not careful. Our joints become stiff, our muscles knotted, and nerves inflamed. Even just a walk around the house can help to positively affect the range of motion in your hips and lower spine, helping to reduce stiffness.
Scheduling in a daily stretching routine is strongly recommended by a large number of both fitness and medical industry bodies. You could use some basic yoga poses or simple stretches to create your own routine, stretching every muscle from head to toe.
To optimise the benefits of a stretch routine really try to focus on the specific muscles you’re targeting, ideally creating your own quiet space, temporarily away from other members of your household for just a few moments each day. This space will also do wonders for your mental health!
2. USE YOUR OUTSIDE TIME
The emotional experience associated with exercise is strongly influenced by where it’s done with researchers proving that outdoor runners have significantly higher levels of the feel-good endorphins after exercise than indoor runners.
So, if you exercise in a pleasant environment with trees, open space and fresh air you’re going to feel even better. Fortunately, the Government recognises this and hence we’re allowed to go for a walk, near to home, once each day but if you have a garden, now’s definitely the time to make the most of it.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out the SWEATCOIN WALK and ADRENALINE BOOTCAMP on TV.fit
3. GET THE WHOLE FAMILY INVOLVED
With the kids at home 24/7, it can be hard to find the time to exercise. A lack of exercise can lead to increased irritability which then makes it harder to deal with the kids. My top tip is to get the kids involved in your daily exercise routine. You may not be able to push yourself quite as hard or get the quiet time you so badly need, but it will help them form healthy habits for life and give you an opportunity to bond.
It’s also important to ensure your children’s schedule incorporates structured exercise, now that so many parents have had to become substitute teachers. There is a wealth of research out there linking physical activity to improved IQ, grades and verbal skills.
If you’re struggling to find a routine that works for both you and your children, check out the ANIMAL FU workout programme on TV.fit ‒ especially designed for kids!
4. DEVELOP NEW WAYS TO COPE
Worryingly, supermarkets have reported a significant increase in sales of alcohol since the lockdown began. A lot of people turn to alcohol in times of crisis to help cope with uncomfortable feelings of anxiety. However, alcohol can often exacerbate these feelings, leading to a downward spiral.
This lockdown, however, could provide an ideal opportunity to create healthier coping mechanisms that will serve you well into the future. I won’t tell you not to drink at all, only to delay your drinking and supplement it with some exercise ‒ you’ll be surprised the difference it will make!
Exercise has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety and stress by helping to dampen the physiological responses to stressful situations. This is achieved through the release of endorphins, which are structurally similar to the drug morphine, and are the body’s natural painkillers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimise discomfort and can even lead to feelings of euphoria.
5. FINDING THE BALANCE
As we get older, our muscles weaken and we risk injuring ourselves through falls. In fact, fall-related injuries affect a third of people over 65 each year, often leading to hospital admission and in many cases seriously impacting quality of life thereafter.
However, old or young, we can all take preventative measures to help avoid falling injuries. A mix of exercises that focus on posture, co-ordination, reaction speed, strength and flexibility can help increase mobility in the lower back and lower limbs, enhance core strength and improve our ability to smoothly change speed and direction.
The good news is, being stuck in the home is not a problem, balance exercises can be done in very little space!
For some ideas on a mixed routine to help with balance, try the RISE and FI7NESS programmes on TV.fit
Finally, here’s my recipe to keep smiling through crisis:
At times of hardship, it can be easy to spiral and for relationships to deteriorate. But we must remember to treat others as we wish to be treated. If you want others to love you, love them. If you want to be trusted, trust them. If you want enthusiasm, be enthusiastic.
If things start to feel like too much, have a few minutes to yourself in a quiet place, take a few deep breaths and list 5 things that you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This is a grounding exercise that can help bring you back into your body and reduce anxiety.
Most of us are having to make decisions we never anticipated but remember making decisions is empowering, so think about a recent decision you made that came good, then head into your next conundrum with confidence.
Laughter is the gatekeeper to happiness, so download your favourite comedy films and enjoy some sofa time in front of the TV.
Take a few moments to write down 3 things you are grateful for at the end of each day and then read the list when you awake the next day before getting up to face the new day ahead with whatever challenges it may bring
While I know the lockdown will be stressful for all of us, I encourage you to think of lockdown not as a curse but as a tool to actually help you to be happy. You have time to learn, to be creative, to be close to family, to contact friends and yes, get some spring cleaning done!
When you feel positive about the situation, it’s amazing how you well you will perform and so the upward spiral begins.