Lockdown 3: Five tips for staying healthy
- Credit: Shutterstock / Maridav
A new year can often be a time for a new you - but with lockdown 3 looking likely to continue until the spring, keeping that resolution to stay fit is going to be tougher than ever.
Yet as well as the general benefits to your health and wellbeing, staying healthy is also key to tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, a Public Health England (PHE) study revealed people classed as medically obese have a 40% increased risk of dying with coronavirus.
The difficulty, as many of us know, is that the Covid-19 restrictions - as necessary as they are - can make it hard to stay active and keep to a healthy diet.
So here, Sarah Pearsons - team developer for Slimming World in east Suffolk, who runs her own group in Martlesham - offers some tips.
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1 - Fall in love with food
"It's so easy to get bored cooking, preparing and eating the same things," said Sarah.
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"Take this time to do something new - it doesn't have to be complicated or time consuming.
"Dig out your recipe books, have a look online or sign up for a meal/recipe delivery box like Gousto/Hello Fresh etc.
"Many people have found solace in baking - and there is no need to miss out if you are watching your waistline."
Slimming World's 2020 favourite recipe was for banana bread.
2 - Take control
Sarah says her mantra of 2020 was "control the controllables".
She added: "There is so much happening in the world right now that we can't control.
"It might sound obvious but it's really important to take time out to think about the things we can control.
"The stresses of the world around us can start to impact on our motivation to keep control of our eating and activity habits, but actually looking after ourselves is something we can control."
She added that making sure you have "me time" - whether it's a bubble bath, reading a book or listening to a podcast - is helpful.
3 - Get moving
Your local gym may be closed and fitness classes postponed - but there are plenty of ways to get moving in a lockdown, even in winter.
"Online classes are fantastic and more accessible than ever, lots of local gyms and personal trainers are offering their services," said Sarah.
"Remember, anything that raises your heart rate counts - it can be as simple as getting out for a walk, weeding the garden or chasing after the kids."
Set yourself some goals - why not join Suffolk Mind's 100 miles challenge?
4. Soothe your mind
When you feel more worried and anxious than usual, that could be the trigger for you turning to comfort food or other habits.
If that's the case, Sarah suggests trying to limit your exposure to the national news.
"Make your own playlists rather than listening to the radio, scroll through just one social media channel, and enjoy a Netflix fix rather than watch live TV," she said.
"Let those around you know if it makes you feel uncomfortable to talk about current affairs, too.
"Focusing on the present moment – mindfulness – to calm your mind in times of uncertainty can be really helpful."
Colouring books, jigsaws and word puzzles are also useful activities for this.
Follow your ordinary routine as much as possible can help too, says Sarah - whether that’s packing up your lunch the night before or dressing in work clothes.
5 - Keep in touch
"It's easy to feel isolated during lockdown - as well as missing family and friends, missing our normal day to day routine can have a huge impact on the way we feel and as a result, your eating and activity habits," said Sarah.
"Staying connected is now more important than ever – and not just for your weight loss.
"Sometimes you just need a laugh with your mates to lift your spirits.
"Video calls are, of course, hugely popular during lockdown – things like scheduling a date with your mates and coming together online to replace that monthly night out, or booking a family quiz night and testing your loved ones’ general knowledge.
"Don’t forget to make some healthy snacks to nibble while you’re catching up too!"
Slimming World has launched many virtual groups, in place of its regular sessions, to help people manage their weight and get support from others in the same situation.