For introverts and extroverts, busy bees and those more laid back, lockdown has been a real challenge. On top of worrying about the virus itself, we’re also faced with money worries, job concerns, and the stress of being away from loved ones. The result? We’re all feeling a bit stressed, sad and fed up.

While there’s no easy solution to having these kinds of feelings, it’s scientifically proven that exercise is great for your mental wellbeing – as well as your physical health.

If you’re looking to get fitter and healthier during lockdown, there are some easy ways to get the ball rolling. It’s not about running a marathon in your garden or going on a crash diet – it’s about making small, manageable changes that you can stick to.

Head outdoors!

If you live in England, you’ll be able to take advantage of the latest government guidance. We’re now allowed to spend time outdoors, exercise outside as often as we like, and use outdoor sports facilities. What’s more we’re each allowed to meet up with one person from another household – provided we keep a safe distance of two metres.

If you’ve been struggling to get motivated with your fitness, why not plan an activity day with a friend or family member? Play some tennis or go for a long stroll in the park.

If you don’t live in England, you can still take exercise outdoors. Getting some fresh air and spending a bit of time in nature is a great way to boost your mood.

Try online workouts

It can be hard to get motivated to work out on your own – so why not get a little help from an online instructor?

Type “online workout” into Google and you’ll find there are all kinds of workouts available, catering to a variety of different ability levels and interests. Some will only require an exercise mat, while others will involve equipment such as free weights and resistance bands.

Some will be live classes, while others will be pre-recorded workouts that you can watch at any time of the day. Here at LloydsPharmacy we’ve partnered with influencer Chessie King, and she’s been creating fun workouts that are easy to do in the home.

Just keep in mind that when you’re first starting out, it can take some time to find your perfect workout style. Be patient, try out lots of different things, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you find it challenging!

Exercise with others

Having an exercise buddy is a great way to stay motivated. You can build goals together, encourage one another through tough workouts, and enjoy well-earned post-exercise treats together.

Whether you’re playing footie in the garden with your kids, taking an online yoga class with your roommate, or heading out for a run with your partner, exercising with another person is guaranteed to make it more fun.

Learn the basics of a healthy diet

Exercise should go hand in hand with a healthy diet. That doesn’t mean counting calories or cutting out whole food groups, but it does mean getting into the habit of preparing balanced, healthy meals.

The NHS recommends that fruits and vegetables account for one third of the food we eat each day. Carbohydrates should account for another third but, whenever possible, we should opt for high-fibre wholegrain varieties. Protein is an important part of our diet, but is best consumed as beans, pulses, fish and lean meat (rather than processed and/or red meat).

You don’t have to completely cut out fatty and sugary foods, but they’re best consumed in small portions every once in a while, rather than every day.

Remember, if you’re going shopping to pick up essential supplies keep practising social distancing when you can and wear a facemask or face covering when you can’t keep 2m away from people.

Find out more by consulting the Eatwell guide.

Embrace healthy home cooking

You might’ve gotten sick of preparing your own food by now – but now’s the time to push through and get motivated again! Shake things up by learning some new healthy recipes (you’ll find plenty right here) and cooking with ingredients you haven’t tried before.

With the weather only getting better you can also try dining outside. If you have a garden, arrange an al fresco dinner packed with fresh, healthy summer favourites. If you don’t have a garden, why not pack a picnic hamper with a couple of salads, a loaf of homemade brown bread, and some fresh fruit and visit your nearest park*?

*England only

Practise meditation and mindfulness

In combination with eating a healthy diet, getting outdoors, and exercising, meditation and mindfulness can really make a difference to your health and wellbeing.

We’ve partnered with yoga teacher, YouTuber and blogger Cat Meffan, who has produced some simple videos on getting started with meditation. Find out more, and watch the first two videos, here.

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