Apr 09, 2020 / by Jon Bellis / No Comments

You may be asking, how can I stay healthy during the lockdown? And given that it is going to be extended and may last a good few more weeks, it’s an important question.


What’s the problem?

The problem is that most of us have become less healthy since the government locked us down. Weight gain and an unhealthy lifestyle are far more likely. Here’s why:


You have a lower NEAT.

Lower what? NEAT – non-exercise activity thermogenesis. It just means you’re less active and burning fewer calories.

During your everyday life, you’re out and about. You go to work; walk around at work; drop the kids off; go to the shops; visit places; walk around the town; go to the gym; play team sports; go dancing; play golf; meet with your mates and go and watch the game. You do stuff! You do things that get your step count up, and you more than likely do things that count as exercise. And you burn calories as a result. When you’re stuck at home, most of those activities are out of bounds.

Your calorie burn is going to be massively down. I’ll give you an example. On a standard day at work, I’ll burn about 3,250 calories. That will include a short workout and, say, five clients. On a day where I sit at my desk all day, I’ll burn about 1,900 calories. That’s 1,350 less. That’s equivalent to a substantial meal.

Admittedly I have quite an active job. But even on a non-working day, just doing stuff, I’ll get rid of 3,000 calories. And so will most of you usually also have a higher calorie burn away from lockdown.

If you’re stuck at home, there’s a real chance you’ll be short of 500 to 1,000 calories. Even if you potter around, you’re not going very far.


You have a reduced ability to exercise

If your thing is the gym, fitness classes, tennis, football, squash, golf, dancing, swimming, cricket, netball, yoga classes – the list goes on – well then, you’re not doing that stuff at the moment.

What are your options? Running, cycling, walking, working out at home. If those things are alien to you, or you don’t like them, what are the chances you’ll find an excuse not to do them?

Exercise is excellent for getting rid of calories, but it’s also great for your health. It is the most significant contributor to reductions in all-cause mortality. So, not getting any for a prolonged period is going to see a deterioration in your health.


Your calorie intake is unchanged or higher

Are you just eating in the same way as you did before lockdown? If your activity levels are down, then your weight will go up!

Perhaps you’re bored and having little snacks or just eating because it’s ‘something to do’?

Or maybe you’re feeling anxious and are comfort eating? Or perhaps lockdown feels like a great long holiday, and you’re eating ‘holiday food’? Alcohol, crisps and snacks, chocolate, ready meals, pizzas. They’re all flying off the shelves! And with the weather being pretty decent, the barbecues are being lit across the land.

The calorie count of these ‘party foods’ is one thing, but they aren’t great choices from a health point of view either. They are usually highly processed, loaded with fat and sugar and low in nutrients.


So, to summarise, the problem is that lockdown is unhealthy. Weight gain, a lack of exercise, and poor food choices all make it more likely that you will be a lot less healthy than when it all started.

OK, you say, so that’s the problem. But how can I stay healthy during the lockdown?


What can you do to stay healthy?

In a nutshell, eat well and exercise!

I know that’s not very helpful, is it? What should you eat, and how can you exercise?

Let’s start with food.


What should you eat?

The first thing I would say is to think about what you have been putting in your mouth since lockdown began. Is it chocs and crisps and booze or other fatty, sugary foods? Then, if you’re happy to, give them up.

Here are my rules for keeping your calorie intake in check and getting lots of healthful nutrients

  1. Make everything from scratch using unrefined ingredients. Unless you’re struggling to find them in the shops, there’s no excuse here. It’s not like you don’t have time, is it? And there are thousands of recipes you can find online.
  2. Choose filling foods. If you’re going to keep your calorie intake down, then you’ll need to make sure you don’t get hungry. Filling foods will prevent hunger. Cook with:
    • Lean proteins – fish, poultry, lean red meat, low-fat dairy.
    • Vegetables – any and every!
    • Fruits – any and every!
    • Pulses such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas.
    • Wholegrains such as wholegrain rice, oats, pearl barley, quinoa (strictly speaking not a grain, but nutritionally very similar).
  1. Be very fat aware. When you’re keeping your calorie intake down, a lot of fat will quickly consume your calorie allowance. Exercise portion control with high-fat foods like oils, spreads, cheese, nuts, avocados, egg yolks, and so on.

You’ll find plenty of articles in our archives about healthy ways to eat. Almost three years ago, we wrote about healthy food choices. More recently, we wrote about how to be healthy but calorie conscious at the same time.

One final remark about food. If you thought that lockdown would be an excellent opportunity to take up home baking, well, I’m going to spoil your fun. You can’t have your cake and eat it during lockdown. Make it by all means. Take a picture of it. Give it to charity.


How should you exercise?

It’s a difficult one, especially if all your usual exercise options are out of bounds. You’re limited to walking or running, cycling, or home workouts.

Here are our recommendations:


Be more active at home

If you really can’t exercise, then at least do stuff at home. If you’re working less, or not at all, then you have plenty of time to catch up on all the things you’ve not had time to do. Paint the house; put those shelves up; fix the fence; mow the lawn; weed the patio; keep the house clean – every day; have a clear out; take all that stuff to the dump. Oh no, it’s not open, is it? Ok, leave it in a pile ready to take to the dump.

You get the idea. Be active. These things can burn a lot of calories.


Make the most of your hour of power

So, I give credit here to Business Network International (BNI) of which I am a member. They have the phrase ‘hour of power’, which happens to be perfect for this lockdown where you are allowed one hour to exercise.

Don’t just go for a stroll. That’s not exercise. It won’t get rid of many calories, and it won’t convey the same benefits as proper panty cardiovascular exercise. You need to raise your heart rate and get out of breath.

If you can run, do that. Got a bike? Then cycle. If you can’t do those, then walk briskly. Treat it like exercise: get your trainers on and stride out for the whole hour. If you can’t walk briskly because of a physical limitation, then walk up a hill. Repeatedly.

Use this hour for your cardiovascular exercise. Do your best to raise your heart rate and get out of breath and use the full hour.


Workout at home

It’s essential to include both cardiovascular and strength components in your exercise routine. Doing your strength work during your hour of power isn’t the best use of that time, especially if you can’t do any cardiovascular stuff at home. You’ll probably get stared at if you do strength stuff in the park anyway. Or you’ll get moved on by Mr Policeman. And rightly so!

So, do your strength stuff at home. Do your cardio outside. Do both every day. Yes really. For two reasons. First, you’ve got time. Second, you need both to get your calorie burn up to where it would typically be if you weren’t in lockdown. And it’s good for you, yay!

If you have some exercise equipment at home, then that’s great! Use it. You probably know what you’re doing if you’ve bought some kit.

If you don’t have any kit, then you’re talking about bodyweight exercise. Broadly you have two options


Be aware that bodyweight training is not perfect for all-over conditioning. It’s easy enough to get your heart rate up and get very sweaty and panty, but it’s challenging to work the back, shoulders, or, particularly, biceps to any significant degree. For that, you need some kit like dumbbells or resistance bands. But, assuming you don’t have any equipment, we provide you with some workouts that will make the best of what you’ve got – your own body.


Home workout 1 – basic conditioning

This workout trains as much of your body as possible with straightforward exercises. There are no high impact movements, so it should be relatively safe on the joints. If you experience any pain, then stop immediately. Use the photos as a guide for positioning.

Warm-up for this workout with some arm circles, spine twists, side bends, hip circles, knee circles. Repeat this little sequence three times before you begin.



Either on the knees or toes. Keep your core tight, hips straight, go as deep as you can and touch down before pressing yourself back up. Try and get 10-12 repetitions (reps).

Kneeling push ups top position


Break at the hips rather than the knees, push your bum back, avoid your weight going over your toes as you descend. Go as low as you can. Try and touch your bum to a chair or sofa before coming back up. Try and get 12 reps.

Bodyweight squat bottom position


Lie face down on a mat, rise up, crunch the shoulder blades, rotate the upper arm outwards, and then drive your shoulder blades down. Try and do all these things in one fluid motion. Shoot for 12 reps.

Cobra exercise top position


Start either on your knees or toes. Tuck your tail and draw in your stomach. No reps here, just try and hold for 60 seconds.

Standard plank position


Peel your spine off the floor one vertebra at a time, avoid arching the lower back, squeeze your bum at the top and hold for a count. Try and get 12 repetitions.

Hip bridges top position


Take a big step, keep your weight centred, and don’t allow your torso or your weight to fall forward. Descend and, ideally, touch the knee on the floor before powering back up. Alternate legs, shoot for 20 reps in total, ten on each side.

Bodyweight lunge bottom position


Home workout 2 – basic posture

If you’re stuck at home, then chances are you’re sitting more. Sitting is going to worsen your posture. It would be a good idea to alternate the posture workout with the basic conditioning workout.



Peel your spine off the floor one vertebra at a time, avoid arching the lower back, squeeze your bum at the top and hold for a count. Try and get 12 repetitions.
Hip bridges top position


Either on your knees or toes. Tuck your tail and draw in your stomach. No reps here, try and hold for 60 seconds.

Standard plank position


Lie face down as shown. Lift your navel to your spine, away from the floor. Without extending your neck, pushing with the arms or taking the ribs off the floor, push the back of your head towards the ceiling. Hold for a count. Go for 12 reps.

Swan exercise


Lie face down, arms in a Y shape. Lift the arms off the floor as high as possible. Hold for a count. Try and get 12 reps.

Y Exercise


Lie face down, arms in a T shape. Lift the arms off the floor as high as possible. Hold for a count. Try and get 12 reps.

T Exercise

Wall reach

Face the wall, upper arm at right angles to the body, forearms in full contact with the wall. Slowly slide the arms up the wall keeping complete forearm contact. Get as high as you can and return. Take 10 seconds for the whole rep, do ten reps.

Wall reach exercise

External rotation

If you don’t have a resistance band, then anything stretchy will do, or just do it bandless. Keeping the elbows tucked in, rotate the upper arm to move the hands away from each other. Shoot for 12.

External rotations


Home workout 3 – metabolic burn!

This workout is a panty one, which you should only attempt if you have good levels of fitness already.

To warm-up, perform the warm-up sequence outlined in the first workout. Then do 12 bodyweight squats, then move side to side with a skip, touching the floor either side of you with either hand for 12 touches and finish with some bodyweight lunges on the spot for 12 reps.


Sprint on the spot

Bring the knees up high, last as long as you can

Sprint on the spot

Alternate shoulder taps

These are standard push-ups, but on each rep, take one hand off the floor and touch it to the opposite shoulder. Shoot for 12 reps.

Alternate shoulder taps

Deep squat jumps

Squat down, keeping on your toes. Explode up as high as you can, land on your toes, and cushion your landing by bending the knees back into the full squat. Repeat to failure.

Squat jumps top position

4-step bear crawls.

Keeping only the hands and feet in contact with the floor, and keeping your bum down, crawl four steps forwards and then four steps backwards. Aim for six forward excursions.

4 step bear crawls


It’s a squat thrust followed by a squat jump. Notoriously knackering. Start in a push-up position, explosively bring your knees to your chest, and spring into the air, getting good height. Cushion the descent and get back into the push-up position. Repeat the movement without pauses in a fluid and dynamic fashion. Shoot for 10. That’ll be enough.

Burpees mid exercise

Bicycle crunches

Lying on the back, with hands by the ears, alternately bring the elbow to the opposite knee. Do the movement rapidly.

Bicycle crunches

Mountain climbers

In a push-up position, bring one knee up towards the elbow on the same side. Alternate legs. Do this in a  controlled way.

Mountain climbers


So, there you have it. Three workouts you can try at home that use just your bodyweight. Note that we kept the descriptions short to keep the article length down. It would be an enormous article if we were to include all the setup and movement cues. With the photos, it should be sufficient for you to perform the moves.

If you’d like the full workout with warm-up, foam rolling, stretches, and detailed exercise cues, then you can download them for just £1 from our shop.


The stay at home message

Ok, this is usually the ‘take-home’ message, but I thought a slight title change was appropriate.

The message, and the answer to the question ‘how can I stay healthy during the lockdown?’, is this. It’s easy to put weight on and be less than healthy while in this lockdown situation. Home-cooked, unrefined, filling foods will help you keep your nutrient intake up and your calorie intake down. And a daily dose of exercise will help you with weight control, energy levels, and mental health.

But these restrictions could even present you with an opportunity. Use this lockdown to develop good habits and try to embed those new habits in your lifestyle before the restriction lifts.

Take the first step to fitness today

Enter your details now to find out more, or call us on: 01604 289190