Exercise safely at home

With gyms, sports and leisure clubs temporarily closed and outdoor opportunities for exercise limited, a local health care Trust is offering some advice on exercising safely during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“It’s important to remain fit and well, especially during this difficult time”, commented Deepak Dwarakanath, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust medical director and deputy chief executive.

He continued: “Keeping fit and active puts you in a better position to fight off illness and helps relieve stress and anxiety.

“But it needs to be done properly. No one wants to end up in A&E after overdoing it or causing an injury to themselves.”

Deepak Dwarakanath

To help people exercise safely, the Trust has put together some top tips and some valuable online resources.

Top tips:
• If you are new to exercise, don’t overdo it. Build up slowly, and take extra care to ensure you are doing any exercise correctly. Five good press ups are better than 20 poorly performed press ups, and much less of an injury risk.
• Always warm up first and do some simple cool down stretches afterwards
• While exercise is one of the government’s allotted reasons for leaving the home, now may not be the best time to take up a new exercise like running or cycling. Running in incorrect footwear or riding a poorly maintained bicycle risks serious injury. There is also a danger of overdoing it if you are not aware of your own limits. A good, brisk walk gets the heart pumping, will get you some fresh air and provide a much needed change of scene. And you don’t need any special equipment.
• If you are an experienced runner or cyclist, think about reducing the chance of injury. Running up hills and over uneven terrain risks ankle injury and riding your bicycle at your usual high speed could result in an accident.
• Have fun. Get the family and children involved.
• If you have a garden or a yard, get out and work out. Your neighbours will be impressed!
• If you are exercising outside, get it done quickly, maintain the 2 metre physical distance and wash your hands as soon as you return home, even if you have not touched anything while you were out.
• Eat well and drink plenty of water.
• Avoid needless risk. Make sure you have enough space around you, that your fingers aren’t going to get caught if someone opens the door and that you are not misusing any furniture that could topple over.
• All things in moderation. The lockdown is not pleasant for anyone, but resist any temptation to drink more than the recommended units of alcohol and don’t over indulge on the sweets.
• Chair-based exercises are great for older or less mobile people
• You don’t need a home gym to exercise – just some space, your own bodyweight and a routine is enough.
• If you are part of a regular fitness class, such as Pilates, perhaps your instructor can set up a virtual lesson using an online video conferencing system?
• If you are unwell, save your energy for your recovery.

There are some excellent online resources of advice for home exercise. Some of the Trust’s favourites are:
NHS Choices: Advice on equipment-free exercise. Some of this advice may be less suitable in the current conditions, but the ‘strength and flex’ workout remains a fun and invigorating home routine.
Joe Wicks Body Coach: Home exercise sessions from the popular fitness guru with full instructions and demonstrations which do not require equipment and includes seven-day workout plans, daily family-friendly PE workouts and sessions for seniors.
NHS Chair exercises: These are useful for older or infirm people who struggle to exercise while standing.
NHS Warm up advice: Get ready for exercise
NHS Cool down advice: Some stretches to ease the aches after working out
Sport England: General up to date advice and guidance.

If you are using online resources, try and use reputable sources. There is a lot of poor exercise advice online.

Deepak said: “There are few things we can all do to combat the threat from COVID-19. Handwashing and practicing social distancing are key, but we all need to keep ourselves physically and mentally healthy. Some homebased exercise is perfect to stay in shape and take your mind of any tensions, but please do it safely and have fun.”


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