Schools, pools and gyms have shut in the name of social distancing — so where can you look to help you and your family stay fit while staying put?
No matter your age or fitness level, resources are available online — from video classes to personal training via a conference call. Dr Janine Coates, a lecturer at Loughborough University with a special interest in children’s participation in sport, says there is plenty on offer to get the endorphins — which trigger positive feelings in the body — flowing.
For very young children, Dr Coates recommends a website she helped create for the under-5s called Early Movers.
‘It has information about children’s development as well as activities and videos to follow along with, to help with skills such as balance and hand-eye coordination,’ she says. ‘A lot of parents will be thinking about helping children [develop] their academic skills — but physical skills are just as if not more important, and fundamental for social development.
‘It’s important for children’s development to make sure they’re getting their hearts pumping and moving every day.
‘Another good one for children is a YouTube channel called Cosmic Kids yoga, which streams stories told by a yoga instructor together with positions to follow.’
Dr Coates encourages parents to do the workout sessions along with their children, so you both get the benefit.
TV presenter and fitness coach Joe Wicks has put himself forward as ‘the nation’s PE teacher’, broadcasting free half-hour lessons on YouTube each morning at 9am, aimed at children.
He started his career offering online high intensity workout sessions and last year toured primary schools teaching PE.
‘Joe Wicks live lessons are a good opportunity to get kids active before they start their academic learning,’ says Dr Coates.
For the more mature, Green Goddess (Diana Moran) and Mr Motivator (Derrick Evans) have both been back on TV and radio. These programmes were one-offs, but you can still take their advice — Diana recommends starting every day with a half-hour walk, while Derrick suggests setting an alarm at intervals in the day to remind you to move. ‘There is evidence that people who are fitter have better immunity,’ says Dr Stacy Clemes, a reader in active living and public health at Loughborough University.
‘For older people, it’s essential to keep moving and maintain activity levels now. It’s a chance to learn to navigate online resources, perhaps with the help of a relative over the phone.
‘My mum is 74 and until now has gone to Pilates every week. She’s been missing her class, but her instructor is going to stream classes via Facebook.’ But now is not the time to push yourself too far. Dr Clemes says: ‘I’d caution against over-exerting yourself. For people starting out, go gradually, the last thing you want at the moment is to injure yourself and to then have to go to hospital.’
She recommends visiting the Sport England website (sportengland.org). ‘Sport England has put together lots of information to help people while they’re self-isolating, to incorporate regular movement. There is information for all age groups and videos for less able people, too.’
And for gym fanatics concerned the closures may throw them off the fitness wagon? This could actually be an exciting new frontier. In response to the corona crisis, several boutique gyms have thrown open their doors online for the first time — for free.
London studio Psycle is offering three live workouts each day on its Instagram channel, as is London and Oxford-based studio Digme Fitness — with four sessions a day — among many more.
If you don’t enjoy a class or find it too intense, you can just turn it off — unlike in real life where there is a lot more pressure.
But when following an exercise video, there is no one to correct you if you are doing things wrong.
None of these online offerings is much use, though, if you don’t use them — which is why Dr Coates and Dr Clemes say establishing a routine is essential.
‘You have to find a routine that works for you, and build in time for activity,’ says Dr Coates.
‘Break the day up into chunks,’ suggests Dr Clemes. ‘First thing in the morning, do you do some physical activity before breakfast? My new routine, while I still can, is going out for a little run, then I come back, have breakfast, get showered and start work.
‘Then do a chunk of work and at lunch perhaps there is another opportunity for activity, especially if you didn’t do it first thing. It doesn’t have to be long. Plenty of videos online are ten or 15 minutes and easy to slot into a break.
‘Even while working, try to move. If you are taking phone calls, walk around — that’s easier to do in the kitchen than the office.’
News from The Daily Mail