How to stay active and healthy during the Covid-19 Lockdown

Posted Tuesday, 24th March 2020

This is a very strange first blog that I never thought I would see myself writing but also a very important one which will hopefully help a lot of people.

During this difficult situation that is sweeping our country and rest of the world you may be sat at home thinking how am I going to stay active, I have no equipment at home that I can use to workout with, or you may not know the best and simple ways to do this with no equipment available to you. Here’s the good news – you don’t need any equipment, just the basic things around your house.

You may also be thinking how will I manage to keep my food cravings at bay and be tempted to hop on just-eat, food hub etc and order takeaway food to ‘’help you get through this’’ as a way of coping. The key to a healthy nutrition is BALANCE, still enjoy your treats but just don’t over indulge.

Important fact/note – A sedentary lifestyle (non active) has a relative risk similar to smoking >1 pack of cigarettes per day, and the risk of a sedentary lifestyle is greater than other major modifiable risk factors for CVD’s e.g. hypertension (high blood pressure), hyperlipidaemia (high fat content in blood), dyslipidaemia (abnormal amounts of fat in blood) and obesity.


Part 1 – Exercising 

Bodyweight exercises will be good enough to maintain and improve the functionality, mobility and stability of your body, the most important thing is to keep moving and don’t sit down or lie in bed all day binge watching TV/Netflix etc. If you happen to live in a flat don’t worry you are allowed to leave your house to exercise once daily so head to your nearest park or somewhere you have enough space around you to conduct exercise with social distancing in mind for your safety and others!

When it comes to the choice of exercises the options are endless! You may think really? Is there even that many? This will never challenge me and keep me active! Wrong, keep reading and you will see a number of workouts you can try and test yourself with depending on your level of ability!

To start with I’ll keep it pretty simple and I will be choosing exercises that allow a wide variety of people to join in with this workout, because everyone has different levels of fitness capabilities. Included is also intermediate and advanced workouts to challenge the more fitness fanatics crowd.

Please remember to ensure you perform these exercises with the correct form and technique to ensure the risk of injury is as low as possible. If possible, please conduct a short warm up first to allow the blood flow to reach muscles around the whole body and lubricate the joints ready for the workout you're about to do, this again minimises risk of injuries.  

Bodyweight Workout No 1 – Beginner

  • Standard Squat – x 12-15 reps
  • Hip Thrusts/Bridges – x 12-15 reps
  • Box Press Ups (standard press up if too easy) – x 12-15 reps
  • Prone T Raises – x 12-15 reps
  • Dips (using what you can) – x 12-15 reps
  • Plank (if difficult then box plank) – Hold for 15-30 seconds

Rest 30 seconds between each exercise, once you complete the full list of exercises have 60 seconds rest. This is round 1 complete, repeat this for another 3 rounds (4 rounds total), this will complete the workout.

Bodyweight Workout No 2 – Intermediate & Advanced 

  • Squat Pulses – x 12-15 reps intermediate / squat jumps – x 12-15 reps advanced
  • Single Leg Hip Thrusts – x 12-15 reps each leg
  • Lateral Lunges alternating - x 18-20 reps total
  • Press Ups – x 12-15 reps
  • Prone T Raises – x 12-15 reps
  • Dips (Using what you can) – x 12-15 reps
  • Plank Ups – As many reps in 30-45 seconds intermediate / 60-75 seconds advanced

Rest 20 seconds between each exercise, once you complete the full list of exercises have 45 seconds rest. This is round 1 complete, repeat this for another 4 rounds (5 rounds total), this will complete the workout.

HIIT (High Intensity) Bodyweight Workout – Beginner

  • Squats – 30/15
  • Squat Thrusts – 30/15
  • Lunges (Alternating legs) – 30/15
  • Star Jumps – 30/15 
  • Press Ups (box or normal version) – 30/15
  • Plank Jacks – 30/15
  • High Knees – 30/15

30/15 means 30 seconds work and 15 seconds rest, then move onto the next exercise and repeat throughout the sequence.

Once you have conducted all exercises that’s round 1 complete, have 60 seconds rest, conduct another 4 rounds (5 rounds total), this will complete the HIIT workout.

HIIT (High Intensity) Bodyweight Workout – Intermediate / Advanced

  • Jumping Lunges – 45/15
  • Burpees – 45/15
  • Squat Jumps – 45/15
  • Press Ups – 45/15
  • Tuck Jumps – 45/15
  • Bicycle Crunches – 45/15
  • Mountain Climbers – 45/15

45/15 means 45 seconds work and 15 seconds rest, then move onto the next exercise and repeat throughout the sequence.

Once you have conducted all exercises that’s round 1 complete, have 60 seconds rest, conduct another 4 rounds (5 rounds total), this will complete the HIIT workout.


Part 2 – Nutrition

‘’Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’’

‘’Just because you're not sick it doesn’t mean you're healthy’’

Some of you might be thinking is this important? Does it really matter about what I eat during lockdown? Simply put, the answer is YES, it’s really important that you try your best to be as healthy as you can because total daily energy expenditure (calories burned) will be much lower than what it would normally be day to day.

Think about when you go on holiday, for most people this is a time where you normally indulge on unhealthy food, consume alcohol, relax more and generally not be as active. The same goes during the Covid-19 lockdown, you will be less likely to be as active as you were before the lockdown, you may find yourself tempted to reach for the unhealthy options because it makes us ‘’feel better’’ and ‘’cope better’’ with being isolated in our homes, almost like comfort eating. I want to make it clear, I’m not saying you can’t enjoy certain foods and treats, but its all about consuming these foods in moderation and in smaller quantities. If you can try and aim for the 80/20 split which is simply 80% healthy nutritious food and 20% foods you would allow yourself to consume when your having a ‘’treat’’.

Okay, some of you might think well what happens if I over indulge one day? Should I just write the whole week off because I screwed up on that one day and ate my body weight in food? The answer here is NO, just because you ate an excessive amount one day it doesn’t mean you should write your whole week off and let yourself downward spiral. My advice here, to make it easier to achieve and balance out, is that over the next few days cut back on your food intake, this simply put means just eat a bit less over the next few days and it will all balance back out over the week (depending how much you actually binge eat etc).

Nutrition is also highly important to keep your immune system fighting fit and healthy, this means that your body will be more effective at fighting off any disease or illness, YES that’s correct the healthier you are is very important! If you did contract Coronavirus your body should be able to deal with it more effectively (as long as you’re not elderly and/or have underlying health issues/complications). You may say ‘’well no one is immune to Coronavirus’’ and yes your correct but if you take someone that is fit and healthy compared to someone who is unfit and unhealthy then there will likely be a difference in recovery time and how you feel when fighting the virus.

Below is the Eatwell Guide to help you see what the recommendations are and also the average daily calorie intake for women and men.


Part 3 - Sleep 

Do you get enough sleep each night? Why does this matter? Sleep and the correct quantity are very important, listed below are some benefits of having the required amount of sleep each night. 

  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Repairing and renewing of tissues and nerve cells
  • Increased levels of growth hormone (tissue regeneration and repair)
  • Facilitates the organisation of long-term memory and the integration of new information
  • REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is largely devoted to brain repair and restoration, non-REM sleep is principally a time for body repair and restoration

Adolescents (14-17) years old daily sleep requirement is 8-10 hours. Adults (18-64) years old daily sleep requirement is 7-9 hours. Older adults (65+) daily sleep requirement is 7-8 hours.

Do not oversleep, if you do it may leave you feeling unrefreshed and sluggish the next day, as well as confuse your internal biological clock for subsequent nights.