'Every time you are active, your mental health improves'
- Credit: Cadbury House
It's nearly a year since we were all placed under the first country-wide lockdown and while it might have seemed a little novel being able to wear what we like while getting side-tracked by household chores, that novelty for many is starting to wear a bit thin.
Now we’re in the third and current lockdown, a lot of us are working from home once again and according to Jason Eaton, general manager at theclub and spa at Cadbury House in Congresbury, part of the home working plan must include some form of exercise.
Jason said: “First and foremost, every time you are active, your mental health improves and in the current situation, that’s really important.
“We gain short-term mental health benefits from each bout of activity, so doing even small amounts is worthwhile.
“Physical activity of any intensity is good for your mood. It does not matter what type of activity you choose, different forms of exercise; walking, cycling, yoga, dance aerobics, tai chi and running all trigger similar positive mental health benefits.
“If you are unable to go out, changing your normal activities to something that you can do indoors will help your mental health. For example, replacing your normal cycling activity with an online dance aerobics class will also help maintain your aerobic fitness, while replacing it with yoga will help with strength, balance and mental health.
“Anything is good, but more is better. This means that whatever your starting point, doing a bit more activity will help to combat social isolation and anxiety.”
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Another important element Jason is keen to highlight is the need to break up the amount of time we are sitting down.
He added: “A major change to physical activity levels for those now working at home is the loss of active commuting to work or other journeys, and the incidental activity of moving around the office.
“In normal times, office workers spend approximately 70 per cent of an eight-hour workday sitting and the move to home working could potentially increase this.”
According to Jason there are a number of simple strategies that can help us sit down less.
He added: “It’s may sound very simplistic but making sure you stand up at least every 30 minutes will help. Sitting less by aiming for equal amounts of sitting and standing time and moving more by increasing the type of physical activity you do just from one activity to another will also help.
“Set reminders to stand up every 30 minutes, walk to get water regularly, or stand when you feel uncomfortable and need to change position. If you have an adjustable desk at home, try to spend equal amounts of time standing and sitting. If not, you can sit less by standing during online meetings and telephone calls.
“Move more by combining every other 30-minute stand up with walking laps around your house. If you have stairs, make sure that you include them in your lap. If you have more than one toilet in your house, use the one furthest from where you are working.
“Moving for 1-2 minutes every half an hour is enough to break up your sitting. You can perform body weight exercises in small spaces and with little equipment. For example, calf-raises, knee to elbow and standing wall press-ups target strength, flexibility, coordination and balance.
“More advanced exercise such as lunges, squats and sit-ups are alternatives for those who are already active. If you do not have any fitness equipment, look around your home and see what you can use instead. For example, you can use tins of food as hand weights for upper body strength exercises.”
While the new guidelines about social distancing mean that it may be impossible to be active with friends, Jason believes technology offers those who are self-isolating a way to connect with friends, family.
He said: “Take the opportunity to engage with those self-isolating with you (your family and pets). Play fetch with the dog in the garden if you have one, have a quick game of hide and seek with your children or grab a paintbrush with your partner to repaint that bathroom ceiling.
“It does not matter what you do, how much you do or how you do it, any increase in physical activity accompanied by increased connection to those around you will benefit your physical and mental health.”