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National Fitness Day 2020

As we reach the autumn of what’s been a difficult 2020 for all of us, remaining  physically active is more important now than it ever has been. For that reason, National Fitness Day 2020 is a wonderful chance for our communities to unite & stay active, together.

Sandwiched in the middle of The Great British Week of Sport , National Fitness Day is an annual celebration across the health & fitness industry, and is a fabulous opportunity to highlight the role that physical activity plays in maintaining mental & physical wellbeing across the UK.

Fitness day celebrates happiness & combines keeping fit with fun, engaging activities, and is widely recognised as one of the most enjoyable dates on the calendar. However, the day is underpinned by a serious message: The UK is currently battling an inactivity crisis, which has been exacerbated by the Coronavirus pandemic. Physical inactivity leads currently to more than 20 long-term health conditions such as type-2 diabetes, some cancers and osteoporosis & is a contributing factor for 1 in 6 deaths annually.

For this reason, we at Life Leisure are supporting the “Fitness Unites Us” message that underpins this years event. We are delighted to be able to announce a number of events & activities that we will be running on Wednesday September 23rd, across each of our centres. We are proud to announce that we are opening up our centres to non-members, enabling the public get involved & book onto our sessions.

All of the events running are free of charge, showcasing our desire to help get Britain moving & encourage as many local residents as possible to Join The Movement!

Across all of our open sites, staff, members & the general public are welcome to join us and participate in the exciting activities that we’ve got lined up!

Event Details!

ALL LIFE LEISURE CENTRES  BIKE CHALLENGE (7AM-9PM)

Each facility will have two stationary bikes set up, with the aim of keeping one bike moving throughout the day (The other will be used as a crossover bike, to allow for appropriate cleaning to take place!)

Centres will be going head to head to see who can cover the furthest distance across the day!  No additional booking is required.

Life Leisure Barrow Park

Our team at Barrow Park have set themselves a target of cycling the distance of the Cumbrian Coastal Way (Approximately 185 miles) as many times as possible throughout the day!    

Free to all staff & members on site, no additional booking is required!

Life Leisure Houldsworth Village Group Ex- Clubbercise Class (19:10- 19:50)

Book now! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/national-fitness-day-zumba-tickets-120967877177

Stockport Sports Village & Life Leisure Houldsworth Village- Bring a friend!

As part of #NationalFitnessDay we want as many people to #jointhemovement as possible!

Book yourself onto a session & have friends book using the links below

Life Leisure Houldsworth Village  (10:00 – 13:15  & 14:30 – 17:45)

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/national-fitness-day-gym-session-tickets-121180471051

Stockport Sports Village (10:00 – 13:15 & 14:15 – 17:30)

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/national-fitness-day-gym-session-tickets-121177576393

Stockport Sports Village (18:45-19:30)

FREE H1VE Sculpt session at our award winning boutique fitness studio!

Join ex Team GB athlete & Commonwealth Games Gold medalist Andy Turner as he puts you through your paces at Stockport’s finest boutique fitness studio! 

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/national-fitness-day-h1ve-sculpt-tickets-121182446961

Book your space now!
Book your space now!

 

National Fitness Day is the perfect opportunity for you & your community to engage in sport/physical activity, whatever your goals may be! Whether it’s trying out a new activity, picking up something you used to love or simply challenging yourself & your friends, this is YOUR  DAY!

We’ll be active across our Life Leisure social media channels throughout the day & would love to see your workout pictures, videos & fitness stories!

We’ll be monitoring the #Fitness2Me hashtag across our platforms & would love to hear all about your inspiring fitness tales!

How do I follow #NationalFitnessDay? 

Life Leisure Facebook //  Life Leisure Twitter// Life Leisure Instagram// Fitness Day UK

Get involved. Join the movement. Celebrate fitness!

 

Socially distanced fun for ALL the family

Being active is important for both our health and wellbeing, no matter what our age.

It helps children grow up to be strong and healthy, ensures adults keep their blood pressure and cholesterol levels low, and helps older adults remain strong and sturdy – not to mention the huge mental health benefits for all.

With this in mind, finding activities that the whole family can take part in is a great idea to ensure all your loved ones are moving as much as they should, as well as having fun as a family together.

Of course, lockdown restrictions have had a huge effect on how we see our families and what we can do, with many grandparents still banned from being within two metres of their grandchildren. That’s why I’ve come up few ideas for activities for ALL where you can maintain the social distancing rules that apply to you!

Rounders
Kids should be doing around 60 minutes of activity a day while adults should do around 30 minutes – this goes for older adults too! So, games and activities which allow different levels of movement for everyone is a great way to ensure everyone is getting what they need.
With a variety of positions and the ability to slow down or speed up, rounders is a great all-rounder activity you can adapt to each player.

Ensure older adults or those with less mobility take on the roles of bowling and hitting, while the younger members are tasked with running on behalf of the adults.

As well as getting everyone pumping with adrenaline, it’s great to develop the kids’ hand eye coordination and also enable older adults to use muscles which might otherwise get forgotten.
If you have players who struggle with mobility, bring along a stool they can rest on, or slow the game to a walk when it’s their turn.

With social restrictions in place, this is a great activity which makes the whole family feel like they are a team, without getting in too close quarters!
If you don’t have a bat and ball, you can use a balled up sock and your open palm, which is also likely to be gentler on those with ageing bones!

Assault action!
The great thing about assault courses is that they can be built around all your abilities, and don’t just have to involve high energy activities like running up slides or swinging along monkey bars. One idea is to include challenge stations where participants have a challenge depending on their ability, with younger participants encouraged to do star jump or skip, and those with mobility issues challenged to throw bean bags through a hoop or stand on one leg.

When setting out the course, keep in mind that kids benefit from strengthening exercises, which will help them build strong bones and muscles. Including a weight bearing challenge such as monkey bars, performing a hand stand or lifting a heavy box onto a low wall are all great ways of getting their muscles working hard.

Remember, as long as your breathing gets a little heavier and you feel warmer, it will be doing you good. What may get auntie Jean out of breath could be a walk in the park for your teenage son, so adjust the activities to your audience!

Treasure trail
Walking is a great way to get the heart pumping and fill your lungs with fresh air, and is another great way to provide something for all the family – socially distanced of course!

If you have small children why not bring along their scooters so they can keep up with the rest of the gang, and try and pick a location where there’s a café or bench the less mobile adults can wait while the rest.

It’s often difficult to get everyone full on board with a ‘walking activity’ so it’s a good idea to come up with a good incentive for those who are a little despondent.

A treasure hunt is great because it challenges everyone mentally as well as physically. You can find lots of treasure hunts online, or you can sign up for an augmented reality game such a Pokemon Go, which challenges participants to ‘catch’ characters as they walk around.

If older adults aren’t keen, one idea could be to encourage them to take a trip down memory lane and enjoy a walk around a village or place they used to live or spent time. This is a great way to get the older adults to set the pace of the activity. Not only will the nostalgia encourage them to get their brains working harder, but they will also have more impetus to move more. Seeing their grandchildren play cricket in the same sports field or swing from the same trees they did in their childhood will be sure to get everyone’s hearts pumping and release those endorphins!

Finding an activity that will engage the whole family is a great way to spend time together, stay fit and healthy and keep your brains active! So don’t be put off by limitations of individuals within the group – there is always a great alternative to ensure everyone can join in the fun!

Don’t succumb to Lockdown guilt!

Social media has kept many of us sane during the COVID lockdown.

Whether it’s recreating dance moves for TikTok, following fitness classes on Facebook Live or scrolling through memes bemoaning lockdown life, it’s been a cause of entertainment at a time when we’ve definitely needed it the most.

The problem is, constant scrolling can also quickly turn into a guilt-fest as we see people showing off that they have become much fitter or documenting how many miles they have been running for charity.

This is the last thing you need when you’ve just about managed to get the kids up and dressed, juggling home schooling and working from home, let alone navigating a global pandemic.

So, as restrictions begin to be lifted and life returns to some kind of ‘normality’, maybe it’s time to ditch our old lockdown media pal and concentrate on the present?

Forgive yourself for a fitness dip
Lots of trainers wouldn’t allow their clients to come up with excuses as to why they haven’t kept up with fitness or missed a session.

But the fact of the matter is COVID has presented us with pretty exceptional circumstances. It is entirely justifiable that we have let our health and fitness drop, whether you are used to running around after the kids or you are a regular gym goer.

Don’t worry! This is completely normal considering the change in activity your body has experienced over the past six months. If we move less, then our muscles are going to get weaker and become tired more quickly.

Don’t feel guilty, feel motivated. Because you know you can get back on track. Start small, instead of going to the park for an hour’s kick about with the kids, keep it a little shorter at first and build exercise back up. Remember – if a marathon runner took a year off, they wouldn’t expect to run a PB on their first outing.

Don’t compare!
Instagram feeds during lockdown are filled with selfies of celebrities showing off their beach bodies by their pools or exceptional achievers who have run a marathon a week during lockdown.

But don’t beat yourself up, just because they are shouting about their achievements it doesn’t make yours any less. A cycle to the shops or a walk to the park with the kids may seem less ‘instagrammable’ but it’s still a worthwhile form of activity and will come with its own health benefits.

Government guidelines suggest adults should be doing about 30 minutes exercise a day, while kids should be doing an hour. It doesn’t have to be running or high intensity activity, as long as your heart begins to beat a little quicker and your breathing gets harder you are doing yourself good.

If you do fancy a challenge, it’s not too late to start. People used lockdown as an opportunity to do things they hadn’t had chance to do before, but now things are easing it simply gives you a wider choice when it comes to activities such as swimming or going to a new gym class.

Don’t get stressed, get moving!
Lockdown has been an incredibly stressful time, whether it’s been work, finances, childcare or the lack of freedom to do what you know and love. And as rules begin to be relaxed it’s entirely likely that you will begin to feel anxious about getting back into the ‘real world’ again.

Remember, exercise is a great stress reliever, and while you may feel a little worried about heading to a swimming pool or public gym, a long walk or run can help build your confidence and relieve some of the stress that has built up.

As well as helping you relax and unwind, you will also find that increasing your activity will ensure you sleep better and concentrate more, which of course is important for yourself and your kids if you are heading back into the office or school.

Any form of exercise is good for the brain and will be a good stress reliever. Being part of a team or taking part in a fitness class with friends, while respecting social distancing measures, is a great way to get you laughing and enjoying yourself, while running, swimming and walking have great meditative effects, helping relax you and keep you focussed, so it’s all doing you good.

And don’t forget – kids get stressed too and are also highly likely to be affected by what’s happening in the world, so be sure to include them in your activities too. A game of football, a walk up a hill or a game of hide and seek will do the whole family wonders!

Whether you have been on furlough, frantically juggling family life or the lockdown has affected your mental health, the return to ‘normality’ will come with its challenges.

If the social media feed that kept you going is now causing negative thoughts, leave it behind and concentrate on what’s to come!

A running engagement

Latest figures show that almost a million people in the UK have downloaded the Couch to 5k running app during lockdown – that’s more than double the downloads for the same period last year.

If you’re one of those people AND you completed the challenge, then well done! You should feel really great about your achievement. Perhaps you are now wondering ‘that next’? Or, if this isn’t you, it may well be that you are thinking of giving it a go – especially with lockdown restrictions now easing. Whichever camp you fall into, hopefully this will help.

I’m a real champion of running, it’s a great way to stay active, it’s fantastic at keeping your heart healthy and strong, and the whole family can do it together. All you need is a pair of trainers and comfy clothing – no gym memberships or specialist equipment required!
So, whether you’re new to running or looking to extend your challenge beyond the 5k, here are a few tips to make or keep running a regular part of your routine.

Couch to 5k

So, for those who are new to the concept, here’s a quick overview of what all the fuss is about.

The Couch to 5k is a running app for your mobile phone which aims to steadily increase your stamina with the end goal being to run for 30 minutes without stopping.

It sounds quite daunting, but each coaching session – divided into three sessions a week – steadily takes you from a mixture of walking and running, to running for longer periods until you can jog along for 30 minutes.

There are a few variations of the app so you can choose what appeals most to you. With the NHS version you can choose whose voice you hear as your mentor, from the calming tones of Sarah Millican encouraging you to keep going, to the no-nonsense encouragement and running tips from Michael Johnson.

The lockdown has been a great opportunity for people to take on the app while they are not doing their usual commutes etc. but it is available all year round – so it’s never too late to try!

Of course, you don’t have to use the app, there are plenty of running plans you can follow on line which you can complete it as a family or group – you just need someone keeping an eye on the time so you know how long you are running/walking for.

5k and beyond…

A common goal that follows the Couch to 5k is would be to join a running club or sign up for a fun run which the whole family can take part in without pressure.

But with mass gatherings and events banned for the foreseeable future, this is where you might need to be a little creative.

Why not map out a 5, 8 or 10k run in a location you haven’t run before? Mapping out a new route will make the run more interesting. A good starting point is to find a circular path that surrounds a field or lake so that you don’t have to worry about following directions. And if you are running with family members or with friends (maintaining social distancing) who are quicker/slower, you don’t have to worry about everyone staying together.

The advantage of a new route will also mean you are challenged in a different way. If you’ve stuck to road running why not find an alternative with some different terrain, or introduce some hills to your route which will also improve form, increase strength and boost your speed.

Go back to the beginning

The couch to 5k is great way to get you running and you can definitely call yourself a runner by the end. But if you want to continue to get fitter, then increasing your pace and distance will help.

If you have a smart phone that tracks your distance, you may even find that your 30 minute run doesn’t quite equate to 5k – or anywhere near! This is nothing to worry about, it all depends on your pace and even your leg length!

If you’ve never run before it’s likely you will have been concentrating on getting around without stopping without thinking about how fast you are going. Now you know you can do it you can look at refining your style and speed, and the simplest way of doing this is by resetting the app and using the intervals to switch between running speeds rather than walking and jogging. This way you can continue to increase your stamina and get faster.

Take inspiration!

The great thing about the Couch to 5k is that it’s accessible to everyone and designed for the beginner. Crucially, it’s also a great way of demonstrating how people can go from being a complete novice to achieving more than they might expect in quite a short time.

Which is why even if you try running and it isn’t for you…it isn’t for everyone…you can still take inspiration from the concept of starting small and building up. Why not set your own plan for you and the family to follow? This can be applied to walking, cycling, scooting or even playing a game of football with the kids.

You can increase time spent, or number of steps, repetitions etc. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are building up gradually to healthy habits that you’ll really benefit from today, tomorrow and well into the future.

A new era for cyling

There’s never been a better time to get out on your bike than during lockdown.

The lack of cars and commuters has meant cyclists of all abilities can ride on the normally busy roads with a new-found confidence. While gyms and outdoor sports have been out of action, it has proven to be a fantastic way for whole families to get active together safely.

Now, with lockdown rules relaxing and more people returning to work, you’d be forgiven for thinking your time on the bike could be coming to an end.

But don’t give up hope just yet! The public’s love of cycling hasn’t gone unnoticed, and massive investments are already being made to make Britain’s streets more cycle friendly.

Safer streets for the future

In May the Government announced a £2billion investment to boost greener, active transport. In some areas this has already led to the introduction of pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus only corridors.

It is hoped that this will not only encourage new cyclists to continue their love affair with cycling, but encourage people who have been anxious about the safety of roads to have a go too.

Dedicated cycle lanes mean you are kept within a safe space away from fast cars, you are less likely to encounter impatient drivers, and you have more space to negotiate obstacles in the road such as pot holes or people stepping out, so any investment is positive.

Health benefits

Cycling isn’t just a good way to stay out of contact with others while travelling during the ongoing pandemic, it’s also a healthy choice for your body and will significantly improve yours and your family’s fitness.

The Government recommends that adults should do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day, while children should be aiming for an hour.

Take into consideration your commute to work, a cycle to the shops or a family bike ride on a weekend and you are eating into a good chunk of this target with ease.

And that’s not all, cycling can also help keep your weight under control and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer.

Get in gear

The great thing about cycling is that there are bikes, helmets and other pieces of equipment to suit all abilities and budgets – especially when you get hunting online.

Many buy and sell sites in particular will enable you to pick up a second, third or even fourth hand bike that is still in great condition. Just remember, if you do pick up an older bike or uncover one in the back of your shed, be sure to get it serviced before you go out on a ride as you don’t want it failing on you mid-cycle!

There are also many bikes available for people with disabilities, so check out Wheels for All and Cycling UK if you or your family can’t use a traditional two wheeled bike.

Keep it up

If you’ve become a regular peddler during lockdown then you already know how quick and easy cycling is. But as routines change and roads become busier, it’s easy to find excuses to go back to the car or public transport.

Don’t! You’ve developed a really good habit that will be harder to get back into if you stop.

And remember, if you are a bit anxious about the roads getting busier there are plenty of other options – why not take advantage of local parks, canals and towpaths, for example.

If you do intend to stick to road cycling it’s also worth reminding yourself (and this goes for cyclists old and new) of the Highway Code so that you are confident and don’t make any risky manoeuvres.

Just do it!

With massive investments in greener transport there has never been a better time to get into cycling.

And it’s not just about getting healthy. Getting active before work, or as a family, will also do your, and your family’s, mental health the world of good – reducing your risk of stress and depression, and boosting mood, sleep quality and energy.

Safer streets will mean you and your kids can take to the roads with confidence, whether it’s cycling to school, commuting to work or heading out as a group.

So, what are you waiting for!? Get on yer bike!

Now you’ve found your fitness stride…

Spring is now Summer and with the warmer weather and longer days, our fitness habits during lockdown have changed too. Many of us have moved from kitchen Pilates, staircase climbing and living room lunges, to bike rides in the park, morning runs and afternoon rambles (all keeping our safe distance of course!).

While life has been more than a little limiting it has felt great to move a little more to keep our bodies and brains active. Being able to do it all outside? Even better!

The thing is, as and when restrictions are eased and we start to get back to a new normality, it will be easy to forget some of the good habits you’ve been developing. With that in mind, here are a few points to help you keep up the good work this summer.

Remember when walking became, fun?

In the past, many of us viewed walking as something functional (possible something to be avoided!). Just a way of getting from a to b.  But, thanks to lockdown, we’ve become reacquainted with the activity as an enjoyable experience in its own right.

It’s a gentle way the whole family can get moving, enjoy the fresh air and get your heart pumping without requiring special equipment. It also helps build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier, not to mention the mental health benefits.

So, if you’ve re-discovered the joy of walking, don’t let this good habit slip. Why not look up some new routes you and your family can enjoy once we can all walk a little further? There’s no reason why getting out for a walk can’t become a key part of your new normal.

Sun potion – get your vit hit

We’ve all been making the most of our gardens and outside spaces for exercise during lockdown. Why? Because it felt so good to get out for a bit of fresh air and natural light.

Well, this is another habit we shouldn’t let slip. Because in addition to benefiting from whatever exercises we’ve been doing, we’ve all been getting an important dose of Vitamin D in the process.

Vitamin D is actually essential for regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in our bodies, and, in turn, helps maintain healthy bones, teeth and muscles. What’s more, Vitamin D is wonderful for boosting our immune systems.

When life get a little more normal and more of our traditional freedoms return, that sofa might start to look pretty appealing again. If it does, just remember how fond you became of being active outside. No matter how dull the sky may seem, your body will benefit!

Just remember to slap on a minimum of factor 15 sunscreen if you’re outside in the summer (even in the UK!), and make that factor 30 and up for the kids.

Sleep tight

Getting a good night’s sleep has never been more important. It’s a time for our minds and bodies to recuperate from the day’s stresses.

It’s also another reason to keep up your outdoor exercise routine. Taking part in outdoor activities exposes your body to the elements and stimulates all your senses, adding a different layer of intensity to your workout and tiring you out for a good night’s sleep.

Our sleep cycles also rely on the sunlight to let our body know when it’s time to wind down or wake up, so you will also find that spending more time outdoors and less time in dark houses will help regulate your sleep pattern, which is essential when it comes to maximising your body’s recovery and repair!

Keep it up!

According to NHS guidelines adults need to get around 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, while children should be getting around an hour. Lockdown has actually prompted many of us to hit these targets…simply for something to do. Don’t stop! But also don’t forget that you can mix activity with all the benefits of being outside.

When lockdown lifts, perhaps continue to keep track of when you are getting outdoors and what you are doing – aiming to make sure you are doing one active thing outdoors each day.

If you look back at the week and realised you have spent most of it cooped up inside, try and introduce an outdoor workout or a walk around the block? It doesn’t need to be strenuous, as long as your heart beats a little quicker and you get warmer.

Whether you’ve used the lockdown to form new habits, or you’ve desperately missed the gym and sports sessions, don’t underestimate the advantages of these changes – and don’t be too quick to dismiss them in the future!

How to keep active when you’re a fish out of water

Harry is a former champion swimmer who runs Life Leisure’s performance gym for the elite athletes and manages a Tri-Masters Swimming Programme.

Swimming is a fantastic exercise, it works all the muscle groups, doesn’t put any strain on your joints, and is a full cardiovascular workout – meaning your heart has to work hard to pump blood around your body. And that’s all while holding your breath!

Unfortunately, it relies on one very important thing – a swimming pool, which under current circumstances, very few of us have access to.

Just like any exercise, a prolonged break from the water will result in a loss of stamina, fitness and skill. We will also begin to lose our buoyancy in the water, making it harder to regain our confidence, efficiency and speed.

So, what can we do?

While we can’t replicate the resistance of water, we can mimic some of the movements our muscles make while swimming. This will not only help keep our bodies strong and our muscles lean, but help us dive in with confidence when we eventually get back to the pool.

Jump for joy

They are not as enjoyable as gliding through the water, but burpees are the closest you can get to replicate the full body workout you get from swimming.

Most swimming strokes will work all your major muscle groups at once, which means your heart is also working overtime to pump oxygen around your body.

A burpee – jumping between a plank, squat and explosive jump into the air – also does this, challenging your heart to move blood from your legs up to your arms in a short amount of time.

Tip: Your muscles will still benefit if you slow down the motions. Alternative options are to kneel down, step your legs back and forward individually, and stand up rather than jump.

Strong legs

Swimming requires strong legs as most strokes involve kicking to power your body through the water. The best way to stimulate these same muscle contractions on land is by running.

Running is a weight baring exercise, so not everyone can do it, but it is a great way to keep up your stamina and leg strength when you can’t get in the pool.

Tip: If running isn’t for you, try walking against a resistance such as a hill, or carry extra weight in a backpack.

Twist and shout

Swimming involves a lot of twisting, whether it’s to breathe as you are doing the front crawl, or turning around at the end of the lane, so it’s important that you do some movements that keep your oblique and abdominal muscles supple.

A great option is a squat jump with a half twist – that’s jumping up from a squat and rotating mid-air so your feet land in the opposite direct (or 90 degrees if you find this a little difficult).

Tip: If you find the jump a little difficult, try moving from a squat to a standing position, twisting 90 degrees as you stand, varying the directions.

Core stability

A good swimming technique relies on a strong core, which allows you to lengthen your body, keep high in the water and be efficient in the water.

It’s not a fun exercise, but the plank – where you hold yourself in a push up position  and tense your core – is a great one for this.

Tip: You can improve it by alternating each arm in a swimming motion, or ease off the strain by doing it on your side, resting on your elbow, with your feet wider apart.

Front crawl

Front crawl relies on strong arms to power you through the water.

Working our arms can be hard without any specific equipment, so the easiest way to keep our strength up is by doing press ups, with our pectorals, arms and shoulders taking our body weight.

There are lots of alternatives for press ups so everyone should be able to find a technique that works. Try using your  knees instead of your toes, or raise up your hands so they are higher than your feet. You could do push ups off a couch, a table, or even a wall, it’s all working the right muscles!

Tip: Tapping your shoulders in between each press ups will also recreate some of the movement in the pool.

Back to basics

Swimming engages all your back muscles, whether it’s arching through the butterfly or twisting through front crawl as you come up for breath.

A great land-based version is the back arch – lying on your stomach and raising your arms and legs at right angles, similar to a skydiver. Once here pulse up and down – this is a great way to work your glutes and back muscles.

Tip: This is also a great one for posture, especially those who are hunched over computers all day. By carrying out back arches you will reverse this muscle movement and encourage you to stand straighter!

Go for it!

These are great exercises for all swimmers, whether you race down the lanes or you enjoy a leisurely swim a couple of times a week.

A good guideline is for beginners to do around 30 seconds of each exercise with 30 seconds rest, intermediates should aim for 40 seconds on and 20 seconds rest, and those who are more advanced should do 50 seconds on and 10 second off before repeating a set.

Even with 24 hour access to a pool, elite swimmers still spend time in the gym, so think of these exercises as a natural accompaniment to improving your swimming technique and skill once you get back to doing what you love!

Click here to see Harry demonstrate these exercises or for more fitness tips.

Family fitness? It’s all about finding the right activities

The UK has now been in lockdown for some time and while you may be keeping up with your own fitness routine, keeping your wider family and friendship group active can be difficult.

In order to make exercise part of everyone’s lockdown life, it’s important to choose age appropriate ideas that are fun and accessible. To help, here are a few suggestions of activities by specific age group.

Seniors

Tai Chi

This ancient Chinese martial art combines relaxation and deep breathing with careful flowing movements. It is ideal for seniors as research suggests it improves mobility, decreases stress and also supports a strong posture. Not much room is required meaning anyone can take part anywhere, but it is a lovely excuse to get outside for practise too.

As it is a low impact exercise, it doesn’t put excess strain on joints which makes it the perfect gentle form of fitness for the older generations. Why not send some Tai Chi moves to your older relations and challenge them to give it a go?

Gardening

Getting outside is a great idea if the weather is fine, as exposure to fresh air and a boost in vitamin D is great for all of us. But did you know that going out to do some gentle gardening is also a great form of exercise? In fact, one hour of gardening can burn between 200-400 calories.

Why not order some seeds for older friends or relatives as a gift? As well as showing them you are thinking of them, it also might end up giving their green fingers (and the rest of their body) a workout.

Daily walks

Now is a great time to discover the beauty that’s just beyond your front door. Why not dig out a map and help an older person you know to plan different routes around their neighbourhood? To add a new element of interest, you could even ask them to report back on what nature they spot along the way.

Walks are a great low impact activity and according to Age UK, just 15 minutes a day can help decrease our risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancer while helping to keep bones strong and spirits lifted.

Virtual tours

For seniors shielding and not able to venture outdoors, another option may be to make use of many virtual tours of stately homes, gardens, parks and attractions that are currently being shown online. Walking on the spot while taking a virtual trip around a fascinating spot may be just the ticket for physical and mental stimulation.

Teens

Make it competitive

Many teens love a challenge, especially when it comes to challenging Mum and Dad, so why not use this to your advantage?

Maybe you love to run or lift weights, so challenge your teen to see if they can keep up. Then switch to one of their favourite exercises and see if you can give them a run for their money. You could even make it more interesting by introducing a forfeit for the loser – who knows, they could end up owing you washing-up!

Provide purpose

Some teens struggle to see the point of exercise, so by creating a purpose you can encourage them to move more.

Maybe they could take a walk to post a letter or earn some screen time or pocket money by cleaning windows or pulling up weeds. Once they start to see how much better they feel for moving a little each day, they may even catch the fitness bug themselves and offer to take on more jobs? OK, maybe not – but it’s worth a shot!

Retro gaming favourites

Although many modern games consoles encourage sedentary play, why not dig out some old classics to get your teens moving? Whether it’s Wii Fit or even a retro dance mat, some of these older games provide a bit of nostalgia that can get your teen joining in with fun for all the family.

Kids 

Make learning physical

By setting up a simple grid pattern in pavement chalk, you could create a life size board game for your little ones.

Quiz them on a chosen subject and for every right answer they can take a step forwards. Attribute certain moves to certain squares for example 10 jumping jacks or hopping on one leg for 30 seconds. Not only is this a fun way of learning, it keeps brains and bodies active at the same time. Win, win!

Tournament time

Kids love playing games, so why not root around the garden shed and devise an at-home Olympics for your kids? Even simple toys can make the basis for hours of fun. Who can do the most hula hoops in a row? Who can keep bouncing the ball for the longest time? Introduce small prizes along the way to keep everyone engaged and prepare for some tuckered out tots by the end of the day.

Work them into your work outs

One thing kids love is joining in with Mum and Dad so think creatively about how you can make this happen.

They may not be able to keep up with your cardio workout but could they join you on their bikes for your daily jog? Or perhaps they could boogie along to your Zumba practise? They may not know all the moves but they will love being part of your fitness routine. What a great way to lead by example too!

Not ever exercise suits ever body or ever age – what’s great for you might be too demanding or boring for others in your family. But there are so many solutions out there, especially with a bit of imagination. By looking at activity with the rest of your family in mind, you can ensure your whole household is making movement a bigger part of their lockdown life and having fun at the same time.

 

Missing the social aspects of the gym? Exercise in collaboration with these tips

 

It’s not just the endorphins that gym-goers are missing right now – the social side of exercise, the group classes and sense of community can’t be underestimated.

While we’re living through extremely strange circumstances that make socialising more difficult, with a bit of creativity you can bring exercise, fun and collaboration back together.

Get active with the family

In the normal run of life, we’re very often passing ships in our own homes. If there’s one positive to come out of self-isolation – building closer bonds with family could be it. How long have you been trying to reconnect with that teenager!?

  • Schedule sessions – get active, hold each other to account and use this time to encourage everybody in the home to form positive new routines. Exercising together is much more fun and it could be a great way to break down the barriers of normal life.
  • Make it fun – a rummage in the attic or that precariously over-filled cupboard will likely unearth some old rackets, bats, balls and equipment that could make exercise much more fun. Missing out on the gym specifically? Have a competition with the family to see who can find the strangest weight to lift. Embedding fun will definitely make exercise feel sociable.
  • Digital retox – if you don’t have equipment at home, or perhaps digital is more your thing, give that old Nintendo Wii a new lease of life. Games such as tennis, bowling and even ski jumping are fun, interactive and offer a fantastic way to bring some competition to light exercise at home with the family.

Log on for sociable exercise

At this time when we crave personal contact more than ever, why not exercise with the online community? Whether this is something you do to break the monotony, as a way to catch up with friends, or to feel more elementally human – online fitness has never offered up more opportunities.

  • Live virtual classes – yoga, pilates, Zumba, Salsa instructors and personal trainers everywhere are holding online group classes – and not just the famous ones. Why not weave sessions into your routine? And why not sign up with friends so you can be sure there’s another friendly face?
  • Keep your pastimes alive – many of us make friends over hobbies, so why not stay in touch by setting up a weekly video meet or a friendly competition – perhaps the first to complete a virtual cycle, rowing or running challenge. Think of this as the exercise equivalent of the virtual pub quiz.
  • Complete a video workout – often you just don’t know when time will free up – so keep the flexibility by watching online exercise videos and completing sessions in your own time. Some of our favourites from the Life Leisure archive include a full body workout ideal for people keen to push their fitness and this 30 minute home Pilates session.

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you maintain the inspiration, build your fitness and stay connected while you keep up the social distancing.

Work out to work better: healthy body, healthy mind, healthy productivity

We all know that exercise is important for physical and mental health, but did you know that regular work outs can actually improve your productivity and help you to work more efficiently?

While so many of us are working from home, it’s more important than ever before to make sure we’re getting enough physical activity. In fact, this could be the secret weapon you need to supercharge your working day.

The benefits underpinning healthy body, healthy mind

The physical benefits of regular exercise have been well documented, but many people are not aware of the myriad ways it can boost productivity and brain power.

  • Reducing stress and improving stress response – the current pandemic is causing increased anxiety for us all, but trying to manage work stresses on top of this can be particularly tough. Incorporating regular exercise into your daily quarantine routine, is an important tool for lowering stress levels and ensuring you are able to handle whatever work throws at you.
  • Improved memory and concentration – isolation can make us all feel like we’re not firing on all cylinders but getting moving can supercharge your brain to ensure you are getting the most out of your working periods.
  • Getting the creative juices flowing – physical exercise provides an important mental break. This can allow you to take a step back from the detail and come up with some fantastic out-of-the-box ideas when you return to your desk.
  • Mood boosting – getting those endorphins flowing can seriously improve your fire power at work, not to mention the day-to-day benefits of feeling great!
  • Building mental stamina – it’s not just physical stamina that is improved by regular exercise, you will be able to work more productively and for longer periods if you break your day up with well-timed work outs.

Turn that working week into a workout week

Juggling life in isolation with home working is certainly a challenge, but as a bonus you do have extra time. Here are a few ideas on how you can find the time to boost your daily exercise regime while working from home:

  • Cash in on the former commute – why not reallocate the time you used to spend commuting at the start and end of our day for regular exercise? It’s time you never had before so why not make the most of it!?
  • Diarise that exercise meeting – just as you would put a meeting into your diary, put some time for a workout into your diary and stick to it. The handy reminder will even serve to hold you to account.
  • Pump up your lunchtime – breaking up your day is important and lunch is a great time to get moving. Getting active at lunchtime can even help you beat the afternoon slump and maintain productivity throughout the day.
  • Get creative with home exercises – we’re all familiar with the office manager’s advice about doing leg exercises at our desks – but there’s far more exercise potential in our own homes. Perhaps you could set yourself a challenge – maybe to clean the kitchen in less than 15 minutes before your next call or meeting? Or could you sneak in some press-ups nobody will ever know about by turning the video off during an online meeting?
  • Fuel for brain and body – dietary choices also have a huge impact on our productivity, not to mention your energy levels for that next work out. Make sure you are providing your body with enough fruit and vegetables to keep your brain sharp and your head clear for a busy workday at home!

While we may all be limited to leaving the house only once a day for exercise at the moment – by making sure your workout regime is creative and less limited, you will provide a serious boost to your physical and mental health as well as your working day.

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