New year, new challenges, new ways of keeping fit

January is normally a time for New Year’s resolutions. Even though it may be harder this year becuase of lockdown, Dr Andy, our in-house GP, discusses the importance of challenging yourself. 

As a GP, I encourage my patients to use New Year as an opportunity to stop smoking, drink less alcohol and eat a healthier diet.

This year, my biggest focus is on people being more active. COVID-19 has led to a number of changes in how we live. Home schooling, working from home and not being able to go out as much as we usually would has reduced the time we spend moving around.

There are loads of great benefits to increasing our activity levels, and it doesn’t matter how fit you think you are (or aren’t) – there’s always something you can do to get more active. 

Being active uses up calories, which helps us keep to a healthy weight, but it also does much more. It strengthens our bones, makes our muscles stronger and more efficient (so they don’t crave so much oxygen), improves our lung function, and keeps our heart healthy. 

An added bonus of exercise is that it improves our mental health and immune system – two areas that are being quite challenged at the moment. 

Planning your keep fit routine 

Whatever your preferred exercise activity, begin by creating a plan, so you can get into a routine. Set aside enough time to do your activity. This includes getting changed, warming up and warming down, rather than cramming it in. Make sure you start with a distance or time you can comfortably achieve and build upon. 

Starting a new activity on your own can be daunting. Here are a few tips to help you stick at it: 

  • get members of your household or support bubble to join you, if you can
  • keep a record of your activities and achievements, to track your progress  
  • tell people what you’re doing for moral support and to keep you motivated 
  • use apps, such as Strava and Runkeeper, to track your progress and compete with fellow exercise buddies 

If you can't go out, you could use fitness machines at home, or join online exercise classes. 

Our Stay Active, Stay Well exercise videos give you everything you need to start exercising. They include step-by-step aerobic and strength exercises as well as how to warm up before you start, and cool down and stretch at the end. The programme has been designed for people living with a long-term lung condition, and includes exercises at 3 levels. You can also find some great hints and tips for getting started in our keep active guide. 

Stay safe when exercising

Here are a few important things to keep in mind: 

  • if you have a reliever inhaler, keep it with you at all times
  • make sure you’re well hydrated
  • make sure you follow the COVID-19 restrictions in your area if exercising outside
  • during these winter months, make sure you’re dressed suitably for the weather and if outside, are visible to traffic
  • if you’re exercising outdoors alone, make sure someone knows where you’re going and for how long. Consider taking a mobile phone with you, in case you need support. 

Get involved! 

Finally, some people really benefit from having a challenge or a target. We have some exciting virtual events that everyone can join. Have a look and see if there’s an event there for you! 

Find the right challenge for you

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13 January 2021