Bill McGowan, Founder of health and wellbeing social enterprise, Fun and Fit Bike, shares tips on looking after your wellbeing.
Being socially isolated or shielded at home can really affect your motivation to stay fit and healthy. Boredom, temptation to comfort eat and the struggle to figure out how to exercise within the four walls of your home can make maintaining your health and wellbeing a daunting task during COVID-19 isolation. But actually, there are many ways you can stay in shape at home. Here are a few tips for doing so:
Become a kitchen guru
Prolonged periods at home make it almost inevitable that you overindulge in snacks and treats from your kitchen. It is probably the toughest of temptations, requiring super-hero will power. But instead of trying to fight it, how about embracing it and learn to enjoy making healthier food?
Cooking and baking for you and your family can be fun, exercising, healthy and therapeutic. Start with making simple healthy snacks like carrot, celery, cucumber and pepper sticks, and complementing them with smoothie dips made from bananas, strawberries or virtually any fruit – including tinned. Blend, mash, or squeeze to make your side dip.
Once you are started on your culinary journey, have a go at making more main meals from scratch. When you do, try grilling or steaming your fish, meat and poultry. It is a lot healthier than frying. And accompany it with steamed vegetables or a salad instead of chips. When it is ready to serve, add lemon juice or vinegar in place of salt.
If you do use your frying pan, replace the oil with water. You will be amazed at how well it works, leaving your food tastier and healthier. There are a zillion simple ways to enjoy your food making and keep it healthy. BBC Good Food (this link will take you away from our website) is filled with recipes to get you thinking. Who knows we might see you on MasterChef when the lockdown ends.
Be a sponge
Often overlooked but equally important to your nutrition is water. Did you know that your body can survive for up to forty days without food but without water you would be lucky to survive beyond eight days?
Very few people drink as much water as they need to. When you are at home for prolonged periods, where the room temperature is almost always higher than outside, your body requires even more water to combat the increased perspiration caused by the warmer air.
At least eight glasses per day is required amount to keep you hydrated. Consuming this volume will not only keep your body functioning properly, it helps your brain stay alert which is also good for your mental wellbeing.
Think of your body as a bath sponge. When it is full of water it works well, when it is dried out it cannot function.
Staying with liquids, stick to minimum alcohol intake. There’s lots of chat right now of people overindulging in their favourite tipples while in lockdown. Apart from the obvious concerns of drinking too much alcohol – alcohol actually accelerates dehydration. Try a big pint of fresh or diluted fruit juice instead or between your alcoholic drinks.
A good night’s sleep is always one of the most important things you can do to ensure your wellbeing, not just in lockdown. Eight hours of good sleep leaves your mind and body properly refreshed and feeling good for the day ahead, so treat it as a passion. Avoid staying up too late eating, drinking and watching box sets, and if you do feel yourself nodding off during the day, get up and take a walk around your home or garden – or just stick your head out of the window for some fresh air to waken yourself up (just make sure it is open!). If you are having trouble getting to sleep at night, there are some amazing free sleep apps on the NHS website (this link will take you away from our website) that will quickly have you in dreamtime.
Shake your body to your favourite tunes
It goes without saying – but I have said it anyway! – getting exercise if possible in lockdown is really important. It can be tricky taking on a full-scale work-out within your home, but one productive and fun way is to shake your body to your favourite tracks. Everyone loves a boogie and a sing-along to their favourite tunes so there’s no better way to exercise. So, get those sounds loaded up, the wooden spoon in your hand as a microphone, and let rip. Nothing better for your mental wellbeing too.
Take a walk around your home
Having a wander round your home can not only provide you with movement but it can also be a source of mental wellbeing too. For example, without trying to sprint, try timing yourself on your walking route around the house and you will find yourself wanting to improve each time. While you are at it, pick out an item in each room and speak it out as a list as you go round – the recollection practice will help your memory and mental agility.
Bounce a balloon
If you are looking to exercise with a lockdown partner, get a balloon and have a game of knocking it in the air to each other. You will soon know how much exercise is involved as you move and stretch to knock the balloon back and forward. Just be careful of the ornaments!
If a lot of movement is not possible for you, there are still loads of exercises you can do from the comfort of your chair to suit your capability – including shaking your body! (see above). Even if you do not have an activity plan, just make up your own and do the stretches and movements that you feel comfortable with.
Bend your mind
Mental exercise is important too. Not only does it improve brain power and memory, it makes you feel good. There are thousands of free crosswords, word searches, quizzes and puzzles in newspapers, magazines and online for you to choose from.
Don’t forget, a good book is great for the mind too and many libraries have both delivery and online services available to give you an enjoyable read. Many offer free access to digital versions of daily newspapers as well.
For more information on the health and wellbeing learning experiences provided by Fun and Fit Bike, please visit Fun and Fit Bike (this link will take you away from our website).