Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

How to exercise safely during the Winter months

The second national lockdown has commenced, gyms are closed and it’s getting dark at 4 pm. It’s hard to see many hours in the day left for exercising when we are fearful of going for a run in the dark, especially when it has been raining which makes it even more precarious.

To make matters worse, your income often affects your workout abilities. Typically, the more expensive your house is, the more space you have to work out – you may even have a dedicated workout room. This highlights the social imbalance in our society as the more income you have, the more opportunity to work out safely at home and thus the better chance to stay fit and healthy in the midst of a pandemic. Yet, here we are, as university students, living in houses which are not necessarily spacious. How can we overcome this?

I believe that as long as you have room on a floor area to lay down flat then your opportunity to work out is as endless as your imagination. Home workouts have been stereotyped as ‘for women’ and gyms ‘for men’ but these past years we have seen a revolution in workouts altogether.

There are lots of ways to stay fit and healthy without leaving the comfort of your own home

With the growth of YouTube sensations GraceFitUK (Grace Beverly now), Tammy Hebrew and Chloe Ting, mums doing workout DVDs in their lounges have lost their popularity. What’s more, with the likes of Joe Wicks, and the platform that YouTube, Instagram and TikTok offer, home workouts have created a metamorphic impact on keeping fit and healthy.  

There are lots of ways to stay fit and healthy without leaving the comfort of your own home. In most bedrooms, there is space to lie on the floor and that is all you need. You can use this space to do variations of press-ups, crunches, squats, lunges and jumps.

If you’re lucky enough to live on campus this year, there are plenty of grass areas dotted around which will enable you to get out of your room, get some fresh air and exercise. There is grass area near Lakeside and Heronbank accommodations which is particularly nice.

Jephson Gardens is a great area to get outside and work out

I would recommend getting up in the morning and walking (or running if you’re feeling super fit) to a grass area and doing a HITT workout. These types of workouts will undoubtedly make you sweat and tired in under 30 minutes.

For anyone living in off-campus accommodation this year, Jephson Gardens is a great area to get outside and work out. There are plenty of bits which are less visible if you want to try and avoid people from seeing you.

If you’re struggling to find somewhere grassy with a lot of space to work out, going for a run might be the best option. Although running is such a generic activity and for many is boring, it’s an easy way to keep healthy while getting out of the house. With online learning being so crucial this year, we can forget the importance and the positive impact that getting some fresh air has on our mind and body.

Make your workout short, hard and effective

Set yourself goals and targets. If your target is to get up at 8 am and go for a run when it’s light out, then you have been successful – it is something to be proud of. It’s difficult to find motivation and focus in these times where we have had normality stripped from us again, so setting goals like these can make working out seem more reachable.

Something that many students believe is that training at high intensities for long periods of time will achieve goals and make you fit overnight. It doesn’t work like that. Training smart doesn’t necessarily mean training for hours on end – you can train long or hard, but you can’t do both. Make your workout short, hard and effective with high-intensity exercises.

Working out with friends or flatmates is the best option for getting into fitness for many. Dian Griesel says: “Working out with a crowd carries a plethora of intertwined benefits that include enhancing consistency, duration, motivation, conversation and inspiration”.

What is certain is that the country has adapted once to home fitness, and will adapt again

I’m definitely not suggesting going to work out in close proximity with others but doing a workout with your flatmates or going to the park to work out and see others is a great way to motivate yourself to keep healthy. When it’s cold and horrible outside, it is difficult to find that drive to move out of the comfort of your duvet. During the first lockdown, many sports clubs had dedicated zoom calls to workout together which pushed everyone to exercise safely, consistently and effectively.

It’ll be interesting to see what the future of the fitness industry will bespoke. With many young people turning to personal training and fitness instructing professions as full time and part-time, how will the transformation of home workouts and home gyms affect these careers?

The total UK membership has broken the 10 million mark and the industry is now worth more than £5 billion for the first time. Whether this growth plateaus or deteriorates with home gyms and gym equipment becoming readily available is something we’ll have to see in months to come. What is certain is that the country has adapted once to home fitness, and will adapt again.

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