Top tips on staying mentally and physically active
Further to our previous blog post of tips for staying safe and keeping positive, more people affected by bowel cancer have shared what they’re doing to stay mentally and physically active during these difficult times.
I think that a peaceful state of mind is one of the things that helped me to keep healthy. Being outdoors when possible and small walks lifted my spirits. I still do that today, albeit near my home.
In the two years before I got diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, my friends and I completed two 'Tough Mudder' obstacle runs. After completing the first one with a small amount of training, it taught me to train much harder for number two. A lot of the self-taught / self-discovered lessons that I learnt at that time are coming in very useful in our current lock-down situation. I would advise anyone attempting to exercise more the following three ideas:
- Exercise levels are unique to you! Whether strengthening muscles or improving cardio health, push yourself to your own limits. For example, when running, challenge yourself to run further than feels comfortable rather than a set distance guided by someone else.
- Exercise using circuits / intervals. Your body will allow you to push itself harder if you allow breaks. For example, rather than aiming to do 20 push-ups and 20 sit-ups, aim to do four groups of five of each exercise with a quick stretch between sets.
- ANY exercise is good exercise. In this world of instantly accessible information and social media, it's easy to feel like you're not doing enough exercise during lock-down. Remember that any activity that raises your heartbeat is classed as exercise and that can include going for walks, doing chores around the house or even some daily stretches - whatever suits you!
Ultimately, you should exercise for yourself first and then if you feel comfortable, push yourself further. The current situation with covid-19 would make anyone anxious, let alone those of us with serious diseases. Exercise is great for your body health but also your well-being. Increased exercise releases endorphins into your body which will ease anxiety, make you feel more positive and even help you sleep at night once you’re all finished.
My top tips:
- Walk out in nature. My target is four times a week
- Online meditation/ yoga with Dru Yoga Snowdonia
- Social meet ups (online). Do a regular disco, we’ve done a 70s, 80s, 90s and now 60s themed. Dress up accordingly
- Try doing a regular 'pub' quiz online in a regular team
- Occasional theatre/ live streaming
- Travel slideshows with friends, shared over the internet
- Eating well. Trying out new recipes or experiment with different foods
- Scrapbooking/ sorting out albums of photos
- Art. I’ve done botanical painting and have been hand making cards
- Even if you don’t have redecorating to do, why not use this time to look at all your house storage (including the loft) and see what items you might no longer wish to keep. This is a great time to have a spring clean and give such items to our financially stricken charities whenever shops eventually reopen.
Exercise has been an added benefit from my house painting. I am very lucky that I live in a beautiful area on the Solway coast in South West Scotland, so I am spoilt for walks along the shore or in the forest nearby. I realise that not everyone will be as fortunate as I am and may not even have a garden area for short walks or even just enjoy the fresh air. However, my isolation has been a great reminder that there are other ways of taking exercise.
- Even if exercise may be difficult because of house limitations or distance from parks etc., why not try simple alternatives in your home such as step ups or wall press-ups and keep yourself fit. You can usually find such exercises by searching the internet.
I hope that my experience and tips will be of benefit to others and that whilst we may have to cope with the restrictions being imposed on our way of life by coronavirus for some time to come, there is light at the end of the tunnel and by pulling together everyone will get through this. In the meantime, use the time we have to remain fit and healthy and do those things that we have been meaning to do for so long but never enough time to do so! We have the time now so please don’t waste this opportunity.
This is my map. As you can see, we live in a rural area so have opportunity to access lots of local footpaths and tracks. We moved here in the middle of last summer so hadn't really had chance to explore. We've now found two nature reserves that we didn't know existed, an old disused canal, and a fishing lake with tracks round the ponds. I've been Googling and have learnt loads about my local area.
Visit the coronavirus section on our website for the latest guidance and what we’re doing to support you during these difficult times.