Keeping fit in body and mind is the key to surviving lockdowns. From wild water swimming to sauna blankets in your living room, people have been finding the resources that will see them through this last lap of the Covid-19 marathon.Brighter weather and longer evenings are an ally in the fight against the virus and the strains lockdowns impose.”If you can get outside, get outside,” says Dr Karen Winter,  a senior lecturer in social science at Queen’s  University, Belfast. “Daily exercise lowers anxiety, improves mood and has a number of proven physical health benefits. It is vital to our wellbeing,” says Dr Winter, who devised the university’s Staywell guide to maintaining mental health during lockdown. Laura Warren, the award-winning nutritionist behind Elite Living
Nutrition, agrees that keeping your body fit is the key to keeping your mind healthy.And it’s something everyone should do, she says.
“People sometimes get frightened off home fitness routines because they think some harsh exercise regime is called for. In fact, there are lots of things anyone can do.”
Laura suggests three simple activities: 

CYCLING: “They call it the  happy wheel. Cycling has many good health and mental health benefits as well as the more obvious cardiovascularones. Cycling reduces stress and anxiety, improves mood and  gives a great feeling of happiness.”
HIIT CLASSES: Gyms are closed but many are running classes online and by signing up to them you can help the gym as well as yourself. “HighIntensity Interval Training (HIIT) helps to burn calories which, when combined with a good diet, will help you to lose weight,” explains Laura. “HIIT classes also strengthen and tone the body which helps to make you stronger both mentally and physically .”

PILATES: “The benefits are incredible, from a toned body to improved mental health. It’s a great way to improve flexibility and increase muscle strength and tone. You can log into a virtual class on your phone or iPad and, if you’ve never tried pilates, the very act of learning something new will be a good stimulation.”
SAUNA BLANKET: For some people, sauna blankets have proved a great alternative. They provide a spa-grade intensity of infrared light which gives the same exhilarating sensation as a traditional sauna, and the same boost to your physical and mental well-being.You can lie down and treat yourself to a little meditation break whenever you like, without any distractions. “The sauna blanket helps you relax, reduce stress and sleep more deeply,” explains Melanie Andrea, marketing director of the
company that produces the Koanna Infrared Sauna Blanket. “The infrared heat can also help your body recover faster after exercising.” 

Dr Winter says learning new things can help keep you active, occupied,and energised. But she advises against making comparisons with other people’ lockdown achievements.

While social media might be awash with people becoming accomplished bakers, musicians, athletes and gardeners, you don’t have to over-achieve during lockdown in order to feel a sense of accomplishment, says Dr Winter. “It’s better to set achievable goals and tick something off each day.”
Good lockdown health can also come through comfort and relaxation. With the closure of gyms and leisure centres, the relaxation of a spa is one of the things that many of us miss greatly. The World Health Organization says a combination of physical activity
and good relaxation techniques can be valuable tools to help you remain
calm and protect your mental health .
“Sedentary behaviour and low levels of physical activity can havenegative effects on health, well-being and quality of life,”  it warns.
“Physical activity and relaxation techniques can be valuable tools tohelp you remain calm and continue to protect your health during this time.” The WHO message  is simple. Get out when you can. Log in when you can’t. Enjoy your exercise and relish your relaxation.
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