How to stay active over lockdown

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Our latest CF LIVE event on physiotherapy and exercise generated some great discussions on how people are staying active through lockdown. Take a look at some of the brilliant suggestions made by our panel of experts and the cystic fibrosis (CF) community on what support is available to warm you up through these winter months!

Make an exercise plan

Creating an exercise plan can help you keep motivated and stay on top of your fitness. This way, you can also build your routine around your work and physiotherapies. Even doing 15 minutes a day is a simple way of boosting your wellbeing.

Try a fitness class on YouTube, or book onto a live online class by a teacher from your local gym. One brilliant resource is Beam, an exercise and wellness online platform with live or on-demand classes to keep you active.

Having some exercise equipment at home, even if it’s fairly basic, can help you break out of the ‘being at home’ mindset. If you are struggling to afford equipment or online fitness subscriptions (like Beam), and being unable to exercise is affecting your health, you may be eligible to apply for a health and wellbeing grant. Find out more about how to apply for a grant.

Be sociable!

If you’re not into doing exercise on your own, try doing it with other people! Set up a WhatsApp group chat, try exercising on a video call or share selfies with friends while out for a run. The Strava app is a great motivator: you can write words on a virtual map to encourage you to walk further and share your mapped-out route on Facebook.

“Another brilliant app is ‘what3words’,” said one of our CF LIVE participants. “If you love the great outdoors and live close to the countryside, this app is ideal for hiking trails and remembering your favourite beauty spots. You can also identify and share precise locations with friends and family, so they can pay that spot a visit too.”

The Trust is also organising some online events to help adults with CF get active, have fun and socialise. Details will be shared on our social media channels soon, so watch this space!

Best lockdown exercises

With gyms closed for the foreseeable and ‘home-made’ exercise becoming the norm, it’s important to do what you can to maintain your lung function in a COVID-compliant way. When it comes to the best lockdown exercises, our expert panel had a few ideas:

“Anything that can get you out of breath or increase heart rate,” recommended Heff, the Exercise Practitioner at Frimley Park Hospital. “This can range from brisk walks to running, to doing a circuit workout online.”

Natalie, a personal trainer who has CF, also added activities like jogging, indoor cycling, bodyweight movements, skipping and yoga. “Whatever you enjoy!” she said. “For me, nothing makes me move like putting on music in the kitchen and dancing with my partner until we are out of breath!”

“All activity will help to maintain and promote lung function; activity that promotes a deeper inhalation and a faster exhalation will promote movement of mucus,” explained Lisa, the Adult Specialist CF Physiotherapist at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow. “Therefore, picking the activity that suits you will help optimise both exercise ability and lung function.

“Some people feel that, if they have low lung function, endurance activities such as long walks, running or cycling are challenging, as they have to regulate their respiratory pattern to accommodate for a long activity. For this reason, short intensity activity and resistance exercises might be better, as you can breathe through the activity (for example, breathing out as you push or pull). Cycling may also be preferred over running, as you don’t have to carry your body weight, which for some people makes the impact on joints easier to manage.”

Exercising indoors

Not everyone will be able to get outside to do exercise at the moment, whether that’s due to COVID concerns, weather, equipment restrictions or even personal preference. Fortunately, a lot of exercise routines will fit into the space you may have available in your kitchen or living room.

“If you find running particularly effective or enjoyable for you, you may like to try movements that mimic in some way," suggested Natalie. “You could create a circuit-based workout based around jogging on the spot. Aim for short intervals of different variations of the movement, like high knees, heel-to-bottom kicks and jumping jacks.”

If you’re a parent

It can be really hard to keep your kids active during lockdown, especially when space is limited. Lisa, who has a daughter with CF, told us her number one rule is to keep exercise fun. “Try having a treasure hunt around the house, doing different exercises in different rooms and online fitness games,” she suggested.

If you’re a parent who is worried about home schooling, physiotherapist Helen recommended building exercise sessions into your routine to promote your child’s learning. At school, children normally have regular breaks in the playground or classroom, so try and mimic this as best you can at home.

There were so many fantastic ideas and resources shared, but a couple that stood out were:

  • BBC super movers: BBC Teach's fun online curriculum to get your moving and learning at the same time; and
  • the heads or tails fitness game: combining the well-loved game of chance with exercise challenges. Check out this video for how to play.

If you’re a young‘un

Lockdown is tough for kids and teens. The last thing you want to do is stay at home when you’d rather be out and about with your friends!

If you are a child or young person with CF, take a look at our CF youth pages on Instagram and Twitter. There are game nights, movie nights and keep-fit activities to keep you entertained and help you connect virtually with other young people with cystic fibrosis.

Be kind to yourself

Sometimes lockdown can feel really overwhelming, so it’s really important to take it one day at a time. If you’re not feeling particularly motivated, fitness instructor Nicole suggested setting small goals for the day: “You could use a Fitbit to track 5,000 steps while doing chores around the house, or try something less intense, like a yoga or Pilates class on YouTube.”

Above all, remember to be kind to yourself. Some days can feel like a struggle; when that’s the case, it helps to have a list of things you like doing depending on your energy or mood. This might include listening to your favourite songs or podcasts, trying a new dance routine or simply tidying up around the house.

Keep motivated with a fundraising challenge

If you fancy the idea of motivating yourself to do a bit more exercise at home, why not set yourself a virtual fundraising challenge? It’s a great way to keep inspired, have fun and do something amazing, all on your own terms. Visit Get Active with Team CF for more.

Other support available

There were many helpful links shared during last week's event. Take a look below for some resources, information, support and online communities to help you keep healthy and stay physically active:

If you need any further support, our confidential Helpline offers a listening ear, as well as information and support on any aspect of cystic fibrosis. You can contact us on 0300 373 1000 or helpline@cysticfibrosis.org.uk.

Catch up on the whole event ‘Physiotherapy and exercise: support, advice and tips on how to stay physically active’ or find out what other CF LIVE events we are hosting.

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