Exercising during lockdown - dog walks, Joe Wicks, and Yoga With Adriene

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By Ella Buckley, First Year Psychology

Having previously been told sternly by PM Boris Johnson in March that the British public are only allowed to exercise from home, we have undoubtedly made the most of it.

As I write this, my sister is outside my window, working her way slowly through a painful set of ab crunches. On the way back from my morning run we crossed paths, both of us red, sweaty, and out of breath. ‘I’m trying this Youtube thing’, she gasped.

Perhaps my sister is a bad example to start with. Having played national level hockey for most of her school career, and with dreams of becoming a professional athlete, it’s probably not surprising that my sister is going to keep up with exercise - pandemic or no pandemic.

'Start small, do gentle exercise and pick what feels right for you' | Unsplash / Anupam Mahapatra

But what’s surprising is the sheer number of people doing the same. Joe Wicks, the almost criminally positive fitness coach, has set up ‘PE with Joe’, a morning livestream where viewers young and old can hop, skip, and jump their way to a healthy lockdown.

Adriene Mishler, of ‘Yoga with Adriene fame’, has her comments section filled with gratitude from newly converted yoga enthusiasts. And my best friend texts me an image of her dog, Bumble, both thrilled and exhausted from being walked separately by the whole family.

There are plenty of options for getting fit in lockdown, even without the option of a park or gym.

Of course, at least some of this is reactionary – filled with newfound anxiety about the pandemic, we are exercising to both free our minds of worry and give our immune systems a needed boost. Here are some of the best, and most creative, ideas I’ve heard:

Dancing - No, seriously. If you’re familiar with waking up with both a sore head and sore legs after a night at Lounge, Gravity, Lakota or Motion, you’ll understand how much physical effort dancing is. Chuck on your favourite playlist – ABBA is, as always, recommended - and dance about for ten minutes; you’ll soon get out of breath.

Use tin cans, milk bottles, or a small child as a weight - Okay, maybe not the small child bit. But tin cans or full bottles of milk are surprisingly heavy, and can be used in place of dumbbells or kettlebells. In terms of other exercises, you can do press ups against a wall or one-legged squats against a sturdy chair.

Livestreamed or Youtube fitness classes - Coaches around the UK are offering Pilates, yoga, HIIT and others through Zoom, Youtube or Facebook Live.  And you don’t need to worry about sneaking in late!

Facetime your friends - This is potentially related to the above, but doing a Zoom call where you all do something like yoga or pilates is both hilarious and keeps you accountable for keeping fit when you probably aren’t going to be as motivated as before. Bonus points if you have a sister you can push over in the middle of yoga practice.

Use apps - The NHS has a ten-minute cardio workout circuit on its website for those new to circuits, or you can easily download apps like 7 Minute Workout. The structure is useful for those who tend to get bored, and the app format means that you have to stick to allotted rest and exercise times, rather than doing thirty seconds and collapsing in a sweaty heap.

Runners - Nike Run Club sends you motivational alerts each morning and also has a mindful running option, where you can listen to a guided meditation. Couch to 5k also deserves a mention for being a great choice for those new to running.

A more unusual option is the app Zombies, Run!, which lets you live out your own adventure story by pretending you’re running from the undead (as the slowest runner ever, this sounds both effective and terrifying).

There are plenty of options for getting fit in lockdown, even without the option of a park or gym. But if you don’t feel like it, don’t worry. Exercise is different for everyone, and even those obsessed with fitness may feel a need to step back and to enjoy the time to rest and be with their families.

Don’t be intimidated by Instagrams of people on 6am runs, or strenuous Army-level home workouts. Start small, do gentle exercise and pick what feels right for you depending on the day and on your mental health. The dog will thank you.

The changes imposed on the 10 May also allow you to meet up in person with a friend from another household, as long as you are both socially distanced and ideally wearing masks.

Featured Image: Unsplash/Jenny Hill


With public health advice on exercising evolving rapidly, Epigram recommends checking the latest developments before exercising.

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