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There’s no getting away from it, 2020 has been a very weird year! We’ve been in and out of Covid restrictions more times than the hokey cokey. The impact of the pandemic on people’s health, physical and mental, cannot be underestimated.

I live alone, and have been working from home since March. Earlier in the year I realised that I was going several days in a row without even unlocking my front door. There’s a reason why in the first lockdown that they deliberately said you were allowed outside for exercise. That doesn’t mean you need to go for a run, but the benefits of fresh air and moving around cannot and should not be underestimated.

Walking

If you’d told me months ago I’d get in the habit of going for a walk on my lunchbreak every day and really enjoy it and look forward to it, I would have scoffed in your face. Now, everyday at 12, I head out for a walk. I could go for a cycle, but as my neighbours are now back at work full time, I (with their full permission) let myself into their house, get their dog, and take their dog out for a walk.

I am very fortunate that there are plenty of lovely outdoor spaces to walk near me. To get my exercise all I’ve needed to spend is on a pair of trainers (for the nicer weather) and a pair of wellington boots (for now the weather is colder and much more damp). The best thing about walking is that anyone can do it!

Cycling

Cycling is a slightly more expensive hobby to get in to but once you have bought your bike and your helmet, it is possible to have no more expenses. Cycling is also a really great hobby to do as a family. Depending on the age of your child you may need a different size or style of children’s bike, but once they’ve learnt to ride a bike, they will no doubt be keen to get out exploring with you.

Your bike doesn’t need to break the bank though and there are plenty of ways to get into cycling without spending a fortune.

  • Check out your Facebook local groups for second hand bikes
  • Car boot sales and charity shops are also a great source of second hand bikes
  • Do your research and then wait for a sale or deal such as will be coming up at Black Friday
  • Check to see if your workplace offers a salary sacrifice programme to allow you to buy a bike and spead the payments

Benefits of walking and cycling

As I mentioned before, any kind of exercise will have benefits on your health and I for one know that getting in the habit of getting out the house every day has been really good for my mental health as well. With the various tiers of restrictions and lockdowns, gyms and health centres have been open and shut, and habits have been started and then broken.

Doing exercise outside has been the one constant for this year, and even when gyms, swimming pools and other exercise forms are open again, you can still do them.

I would recommend you get in a habit now, before the weather gets really poor, and see the difference it makes to your physical and mental health. I have a FitBit so I can see the impact the exercise is having on my step count and my heart rate. I also use a free app to track the distance of my walk. Admittedly, when walking with a dog my time and pace isn’t very consistent depending on what he wants to do/sniff/play with, but it is also interesting to see how I am now able to walk a further distance in the same time.

For cyclists you can still use a free app called Strava, which is very popular with runners and cyclists. It’s also a community to connect with others who enjoy the same kinds of exercise.

Anyway, I better dash, I have a dog friend waiting for a walk!

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