Charlotte Hawkins: “Every Small Bit Counts And Is Making A Difference”

Thinking about switching up your workouts this summer? Our columnist tells us how she’s been working out away from the gym

Life for everyone has meant huge adjustments over the past few months. It’s been for a great cause, to keep us all safe, but it’s meant everything has been turned upside down – from our work lives to our social lives, and even our exercise routines. It can feel so destabilising, but one thing that’s been clear to me is the importance of keeping active. When I’ve let things slip for a few days, I can really feel the difference. It’s so vital, especially during a time when you’re under pressure for whatever reason, to keep up any form of exercise you can. It not only makes you feel better physically, but also mentally. We all need something to help put a spring in our step. Plus, if your house has been anything like ours, that lockdown diet of snacks, wine and home-baked treats (which has been an essential part of home-schooling!) always being to hand has meant there are some excess pounds to be kept at bay.

Going to the gym a couple of times a week as a minimum used to be my staple routine, making sure I set aside a specific time to do a workout – I much prefer running on a treadmill to braving the elements outdoors. However, that has all gone out of the window over the past few months. My gym, like everyone else’s, has been closed, and home-schooling my five year-old means that she usually has to be part of any exercise I do. It’s meant that I’ve had to be more flexible about how I exercise, and think much more creatively about what I’m doing and when. In the future, the gym will continue to be a part of my routine, but it’s made me realise I can incorporate home exercise much more, and try to make the most of opportunities, even when I’ve only got a few minutes to spare. I’ve also been making an effort to do a lot more of my exercise outside, so you get to boost your vitamin D levels as well.

Here are my top tips for how to switch up your workouts this summer:

1, Getting outdoors is great when you can, to make the most of the (hopefully) warmer and sunnier weather. I prefer running on a treadmill, but I’ve been doing a 5k lap around the block each week at a slower pace. If you don’t fancy running, set yourself a power-walking target to get your blood pumping.

2. Do something that brings results at the same time – intensive gardening can burn up to 500 calories an hour and gives you something good to look at the end of it!

3. Get your little ones involved with you – playing tag, racing laps of the garden, or consecutive trampoline bounces. Our favourite is the Beep Test challenge as it doesn’t take long! I set a distance of 15m for my daughter; my husband and I do 20m. It’s great to give yourself something to compete at together, with everyone at their own level. We also do weights together – I have my 6kg and Ella-Rose has baby weights of 1kg!

4. Use all the online help you can – there are more options now than ever. Joe Wicks has been invaluable, and we also do Cosmic Yoga together. I can highly recommend the Frozen themed one (costumes optional!).

5. Track the activity you’re doing – it all adds up. Whether it’s a diary in which you jot down everything you’ve been doing, or a tracker watch that does it for you, keeping track helps you feel like every small bit counts and is making a difference each day. Plus, you can then challenge yourself to go that little bit further next time!

Health & Wellbeing