Felix Cat


The student newspaper of Imperial College London

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Issue 1754
The student newspaper of Imperial College London

Keep the Cat Free

Exercise in Lockdown 2.0


in Issue 1754

Here we go again. The next four weeks will be tough for all, many hoped that the first lockdown would be the only one that we would have to go through. Many of us, including myself, found it very difficult to keep up with any sort of normal exercise that we did before. This greatly affected many people’s mental health and lifestyle. It is a great shame that all of the university sports teams had to shut down, especially as we are expected to continue on with studies as we did before, but it is understandable that as people’s lives outside of universities are being affected so greatly by the current situation we cannot expect to keep on as we did. We all know that exercise can help with mental health, that is why we as a sports editing team are going to try our best to write half an article every week on suggestions and tips to help people keep going through this lockdown. Our first recommendation is to set up a routine and try your best to stick to it; remember variation is the spice of life and this is especially true in sports. Motivation will be severely lacking at points, I know this is especially true for me, which is why doing exercise shouldn’t be seen as something to do when you’re motivated, it should be thought of as daily medicine to do as part of your routine. Obviously, you must always listen to your body, if you are too tired and simply cannot face the idea of doing anything then you must of course rest and prioritise recovery. A good trick to get over the lack of motivation is to promise yourself that five minutes into that run/cycle/whatever, if you still feel bad and don’t want to keep going, you can turn around and come home. Often, since you’re already outside or have setup stuff at home and changed into sports kit, motivation will kick in and keep you going. However, if you really do feel rough and you still want to come home, you can do so without feeling any guilt; you’ll know that you tried your best. There are plenty of social media influences who continuously post exercise ideas, and these can be helpful, however it should definitely be noted that during lockdown you should not be comparing yourself to these people who are only posting a glorified version of themselves and what they do; remember, sport is individual and you have to compare yourself to who you were yesterday rather than someone else today. This could be an ideal time to try that first 5K or 10k that you’ve been thinking about for a very long time; obviously only do so if you can stay within the regulations of the lockdown and feel safe to do so. I for one struggled for most of my life with running and cardio in general but once I came to university and started rowing I realised how beneficial a quick run with my headphones on, blaring out my favourite music, can help me at the most stressful and anxious periods in the year. When starting to run, you should be focusing on the length of time you are running rather than the speed or distance you are doing. I’d highly recommend if you’re starting off to try and keep your heart rate as low as possible and treat those initial few kilometres of your first proper run as a marathon: focus on pacing. There is no point going out at what you think is a “normal pace” but still feels like agony, blowing up in five minutes, and never doing it again. If you have a heart rate monitor it would be a great idea to try and do this run at roughly 70% to 80% of your max heart rate (a rough rule of thumb is 220 minus your age to find your max heart rate) which should come out to roughly 140- 160BPM. At this heart rate, no matter who you are, you should be able to run for thirty to forty-five minutes straight; I can’t guarantee that it will be fun or that it won’t be one of the most boring things you have ever done in your life, but I promise you it is possible. However, it would probably be best to start with a 20-minute run. Remember to increase your length of time gradually and consistently. With running the payback and real fun only comes after you have put in the time but making sure you stay in those heart rate ranges will make it far easier and enjoyable to do that time. Of course, there are many different types of exercises to try and we will hopefully go through a few more; running is quite a nice one to start with, but going into winter and lockdown, we fully understand the hesitation of going outside. If you have any recommendations for exercises that can easily be done in a room, with limited equipment and is not too complicated then please do get into touch with us and send us an email.

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