Want to lose weight or get fit? A depressing number of people found they were eating and drinking more in 2020 because of the lockdowns. So millions of people will have this as their main New Year’s Resolution for 2021.
In many areas gyms are closed. That may be good news as too many people who join a gym in a fit of enthusiasm in January go once or twice in February and then hardly at all…
What may work better are some of the new ways to exercise that have emerged since the pandemic. Many gym-regulars say they won’t be going back when then gyms do re-open!
It’s good to aim is to spend as little as possible until you find out what will suit you and fit with your life.
Walk your way to fitness
Walking can be the perfect way to start if you aren’t at all fit.
Look for ways to incorporate more walking into your daily and weekly routine:
- walk to the supermarket, don’t get the bus,
- with cafes closed, meet a friend for a socially distanced walk in the park rather than a coffee,
- listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks – keeping things interesting is the best way to keep going. You may be able to borrow audiobooks for free or a low cost from your local library.
Counting your steps is an easy way to aim to do a bit more each day. You don’t need to buy a Fitbit, just use your phone:
- iOS phones have Apple’s Health app already installed;
- for Android, look at Google Fit – Fitness Tracking.
If you have time regularly and would love a dog, but can’t have one in your flat or can’t afford the commitment, look at whether you could volunteer for the Cinnamon Trust.
If you have never run before the Couch to 5k app will get you up to running five kilometres – that’s about three miles – in a nine-week programme:
Probably the biggest challenge a novice runner faces is not knowing how or where to start. Often when trying to get into exercise, we can overdo it, feel defeated and give up when we’re just getting started. Couch to 5K works because it starts with a mix of running and walking, to gradually build up your fitness and stamina.
The first week involves running for intervals of a minute with walking in between. This makes the challenge feel achievable right from the start. Your phone tells you what you need to do. It’s from the NHS, so you will be in safe hands.
Running won’t just get you fit, you will lose weight too.
And then keep it up!
There are lots of free apps such Strava that will encourage you to do a little bit better (longer or faster) than your previous best time on whatever route you choose. It’s good for hiking and cycling as well.
You could get hooked:
- when the world gets back to normal, Park Runs will be back – free five kilometer events organised across the country on Saturday mornings;
- here is what happened when a blogger decided to do Couch to 5k.
Get chased by zombies
If gentle persuasion and tips sound dull, join the 1 million people using the Zombies, Run! app:
Only a few have survived the zombie epidemic. You are a Runner en-route to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts. They need your help to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend their home. And you have another mission — one they don’t know about…
You can walk, jog or run – or even use it on a stationary bike at home or in the gym. The first four missions, and then an extra mission each week, are free so you can find if this works for you. After that, it’s £5.49 a month to get access to more than 200 missions.
Options at home that don’t need special equipment
Youtube to lose weight, get fitter and stretch in private
Turn to Youtube and DVDs for a large range of ways to get fit:
- 2 mile walk;
- aerobics videos eg 40 minutes Aerobic Dance Exercises.
- Yoga videos: Gentle Hatha Yoga Full Class – 20 min Yoga for Beginners and Gentle Yoga Flow – 30-Minute All Levels Yoga Class.
Doing these at home means no-one is watching you – perfect for when you lack confidence and are starting out. You also save money on classes and don’t need special exercise clothes.
And they are perfect for when you are bored silly in lockdown. Plan a regular session instead of that morning commute.
Improve your strength and flexibility
Strength and Flex is a series of podcasts from the NHS, with videos to show how the exercises should be done. These are a gentle introduction, with the final podcast being suitable for doing regularly when you have finished the program.
If you already know how to do exercises such as push-ups, have a go at the New York Times’ 7-Minute Workout. It’s a free app going through a seven-minute program of twelve exercises with short ten-second breaks between them. Do it at home, you just need a chair and a wall, no special gym equipment.
Want to track your calories?
MyFitnessPal is a free app that makes it easier to record what you are eating and track the calories. It remembers what you’ve eaten in the past, making it easy for you to add those foods again to your log. It’s also got some active forums where you can get moral support, ideas and recipes along the way.
Get the kids involved!
- All the PE with Joe videos are on his You Tube channel.
- Dance with your kids to these Disney Dance-alongs.
- Change 4 Life – fun ideas for kids. Another great site from the NHS – iIt also has a lot of recipes, all easy to make and using just a few common ingredients, including ones for fussy eaters and ideas for lunchboxes.
- when the park Runs restart, look for junior Parkrun if your 4-14s sound interested.