Walking

#walkingfromhome doesn't just have to be about walking. It's all about ways to stay active whilst staying local and safe.

Holly Barden, our Policy and Research Assistant, was a self-defined non-runner pre-lockdown. But that's all changed. 

Holly Barden
running

If, like me, you always enjoyed the structure of a 9-5 working day, the social aspect of office work and just generally getting out and about, you will have found these past few weeks in isolation tough.

Above everything else, when lockdown hit, one thing I suddenly became aware of was all the exercise I was about to lose out on.

Firstly, the commute into London tended to get my steps up to over 10,000 a day without me even having to think about it. Secondly, my opportunity to relieve stress and switch off by going to the gym was gone.

And whilst I love walking (especially walks with my dog!), I decided to add something else to my routine. I decided to start running.

I’ve always heard people raving about running and how good it makes them feel, but always dismissed it as something I couldn’t do, claiming (maybe a bit dramatically) that I would “pass out” if I had to run further than the end of my road. Half my excuse is that I’m asthmatic, but the other half is that I’m just a bit stubborn and stuck in my ways about what I like to do! But to my surprise, I’ve come to really enjoy it.

Whilst admittedly the first few tries were tough, it’s amazing with running how quickly you can see yourself progress. Not only does each run become slightly less strenuous, but it actually becomes enjoyable. I’ve started to see it as fun and challenging, rather than a chore to be ticked off the list.

I’ve gone from being able to run/slowly jog for 10 minutes around my block to being able to run 7K in just under two weeks. Because it is mentally and physically challenging, it requires focus which can help you to switch off from all the doom and gloom going on around us. It also releases a ton of endorphins and has really boosted my mood.

A real bonus is getting the ‘nod’ from other runners as you pass each other and begin to recognise one other – it’s a strangely comforting form of social interaction in the absence of being able to see friends.

Holly Barden

Tips from a fellow beginner

1. Start off slow and gradually build up your speed.

2. See how far you can go before stopping. I’ve found that if you can jog/run for 10 minutes straight, you can somehow carry on for much further (I’ve actually Googled this and found multiple theories supporting it!).

3. Try and challenge yourself each time – like running for an extra two minutes or doing some sprint intervals to mix it up.

4. Devices like Fitbits are great for tracking progress and helping you to push yourself, but there are also loads of free apps you can download which have the same function.

 

running

 

If you don’t fancy running the whole way, switching it up between running and walking can be just as enjoyable. And you’ll notice results – both mentally and physically – either way.

Using this time to try new things is a great way to feel productive and look after yourself. Whatever exercise you choose, stay local and stay two metres apart.

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