Let’s give Lockdown 2 a positive spin: this is your chance to give your body the MOT that it (probably) needs. According to a new study by RunRepeat the UK had the most respondents managing to lose weight (40.54 per cent) during this pandemic, but it’s not time to be complacent – separate research by Professor Tim Spector and his team behind the Zoe weight management app found that 30 per cent of us put on weight.
Gyms might be closed, but this time around there are less restrictions, so here’s what you can do over the next four weeks…
Work out with a PT
Parks are likely to be filled with personal trainers and their clients, as this is still allowed. A study by the University of Wisconsin found that 60 per cent of participants improved with the help of a PT.
PT Kelly Bedford, owner of Fitness Fox, offers clients in park sessions or over Zoom: “Personal training gives an element of accountability and increases motivation, so you see results quicker,” she says.
There are also lots of PT-like apps springing up, from Apple Fitness+, which has daily live content to keep you motivated, to apps such as Oro, the first personalised health and fitness app created by the coaches behind Olympic athletes.
Build up to your first 5k
There’s no limit this time around on how much we can get out for exercise – and working up to a 5k is a good challenge for the month of lockdown. “With everything that is going on in the world it’s really important for our mental health to have something that you have a sense of control and achievement over,” says Adrienne Herbert, personal trainer, podcast host and author of the upcoming book Power Hour: How to Focus on Your Goals and Create a Life You Love.
She advises building up stamina with intervals of jogging and walking, on a ratio of 3:1: “So jog for 90 seconds, then run for 30 seconds and repeat for 10 minutes to start with.” She says do your sessions three times a week, building up as you go. “And don’t neglect warming up and cooling down, especially in this cold weather.”
Take on the challenge with a buddy to help motivate you: studies show you’re more likely to keep up the training if you make a date with a friend, plus it combines socialising time. Or use the very popular NHS Couch to 5K app which has a choice of coaches to motivate you.
Add fermented foods into your diet
When we’re stressed it affects our digestion. “This then compromises our uptake of nutrients and our elimination of waste. Basically, we don’t get enough of what we need and we don’t get rid of what we don’t want, which leads to feeling fatigued, anxious, uncomfortable, irritated and low,” says Phoebe Liebling, nutritional therapist at Detox Kitchen.
She says that there is a connection between our gut bacteria and how happy we feel: “Specific strains have been identified as being therapeutic in clinically diagnosed mental health conditions.”
One way to help is to cut down on sugar and increase naturally fermented foods. “Regular consumption of naturally probiotic rich fermented foods such as kefir (water, dairy or coconut based), kombucha, fermented vegetables (such as unpasteurised sauerkraut and kimchi), fresh miso paste and unsweetened live yoghurt will also additionally support our immune resilience too.”
Try water kefir from a new start up Agua di Madre, described as “champagne for the gut”, or Kombucha from Remedy who deliver.
Add in Vitamin D
Scientists and doctors around the world have been stressing the importance of Vitamin D intake since the outbreak of Covid-19 – and say that now we’re firmly in the winter months, it’s more important than ever. “We are able to produce it in our skin in strong sunlight. As we move into winter, this process stops and most people become deficient unless they take supplements,” according to Dr Gareth Davies from Imperial College, London.
He authored a paper showing that Vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of the immune system to fight the virus, which he says we need to get from a supplement. “It’s incredibly hard to get from diet alone; personally, I take a Vitamin D supplement every day.”
Try Together Health Vitamin D3 capsules, £6.99 for a 30-day supply.
Get a check up
Dentists, opticians and osteopaths are all open this time, so it could be the perfect time to book an appointment. “Dental appointments are considered as essential during this lockdown period and so you can attend and book your appointments as normal,” says hygienist Claire Berry. But many are struggling to make a booking – thanks to the backlog from the first lockdown.
Berry suggests upping your dental hygiene. “Prevention is more important than ever now,” she says. I recommend an electric toothbrush; all clinical studies show that electric toothbrushes are significantly better at removing bacteria than manual brushes and so you will achieve better oral health by investing in one.”
Try the Oral B iO9, available at Boots and Amazon for £250 (RRP normally £499).