Stay active during lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for many people. It has taken us out of our usual routines, and changed the way we interact with other people and our surroundings. This could mean that you are not able to do the types of exercise that you normally enjoy, or that you are simply not moving around as much as you used to. Exercising during COVID-19 restrictions can feel difficult, but there is lots of information and support available to help you keep moving and stay well.

Exercise can help reduce stress and help you feel more positive and energised. You can do all these types of exercise:

  • walking or jogging
  • gardening
  • dancing
  • yoga
  • tai chi.

NHS guidelines on exercise recommend getting around 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days. If you’re finding it difficult to achieve this, you can start small and try to do a little more each week. All activity is good for you, and more is better.

Break up your sitting time too. Try standing up and doing some stretching at least once an hour. If you’re working from home the ideal routine is:

  • 20 minutes sitting
  • eight minutes standing
  • two minutes stretching.

If you’re finding it difficult to remember to move regularly, you could set an alarm on your phone.

If you are unwell

If you’re unwell, use your energy to get better and return to activities as you feel able.

If you are self-isolating

If you’re self-isolating (for example if you’re over 70, pregnant or have an underlying health condition) but feel well, you can go outside, but make sure to keep at least two metres away from other people.

If you’re self-isolating because:

  • you have symptoms
  • someone in your household has symptoms
  • you’re defined as extremely vulnerable on medical grounds

you shouldn’t leave home but that doesn’t mean you should stop moving. It’s really important to use movement and activity to break up your routine, but only if you feel well enough.

Exercising outdoors

Current guidelines say that you can leave your home more than once a day to exercise, for example a walk, run or cycle. You are now allowed to meet with people from four other households to exercise, but you must stay at least two metres apart, and the total number of people in the group must be 15 or less.

Paths for All has developed a guide on how to keep active outdoors while keeping your distance.

Online resources and apps

Clear Your Head. Tips and ideas for staying active and looking after your mental health during the pandemic.

NHS Live Well. A range of information and guidance for all levels of fitness. This includes couch to 5k,  fitness studio exercise videos, strength programmes and exercises for people with specific health needs.

NHS One You. Easy 10 minute workouts you can do in your home. You can also download the app

Edinburgh Leisure Fitness at Home. Les Mills workouts, NHS advice and Fit for Health fitness classes delivered by Edinburgh Leisure.

The Body Coach. A range of free workouts, with some for children and older people.

Yoga with Adriene. Hundreds of yoga videos suitable for all levels.

Older people

Stay Active at Home (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy). A simple set of exercises designed especially for older people to help you stay active at home.

Paths for All strength and balance programme. Combines simple exercises with advice on walking to help adults stay active and independent. You can also watch the YouTube video

NHS Live Well. Seated strength and flexibility exercises for adults with mobility issues.

Later Life Training. A range of ‘movement snack’ videos to help older people be regularly active.

Get active with a disability

NHS Live Well has advice for people with a disability:

Many thanks to NHS Lothian Senior Health Promotion Specialist John Brennan who provided much of the information for this page. Follow him on Twitter for more ideas on how to keep well and active.

Stay Well Stay Active Update 19 June