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excercise Covid-19

Best outdoor workouts to try in the park or your back garden

Here are some of the ways that you can get exercise while staying within the government’s covid-19 social distancing guidelines.

It’s been the shred of light lifting us out of lockdown gloom: spring is finally upon us and, with the garden now among the most distant climes we’re allowed in, being outside has become a saviour like never before. If you have outdoor space, recasting a corner into a makeshift workout emporium functions both as a permanent reminder to keep active and soak up the mood boosting-benefits of being in fresh air. Even without a green patch of your own, there are still ways to get fit beyond four walls while observing lockdown measures. Such as:

Get gaming

Becoming your children’s gym teacher – especially when juggling a day job, and the small matter of their education – is likely not the career path you had in mind. But use their need to burn off energy as an excuse for you to do so, too – and add a little competition to the mix as an incentive, such as competing to see who can do the most jumping jacks or press-ups, or racing between garden posts.

Upping the fun factor is key, says Paul Smith, lead trainer at Outdoor Fitness. “Let each other become a personal trainer for the day and copy one another,” or “put some music on and have a dance-off with your family,” he suggests.

Since last Monday mountaineer Ricky Munday, 43, his fiancée and her six-year-old son have embarked on a burpee challenge at their home in Wrexham every morning – 50 repetitions, increasing by 10 each day, followed by a 4pm a bleep test (a 20 metre shuttle run that gets progressively faster).

“The two adults are exercising properly and the young one joins in for fun” Munday, who in pre-lockdown times would work out twice daily, explains. “Our training routine at home really helps provide structure to our days at the moment.”

Run together – apart

Running is the easiest way for those minus outdoor space to get a cardio boost in. If motivation feels minimal, Zoom run clubs may be the answer. Darren Fox, founder of Fuse Fitness, launched his first ever virtual group run on Saturday in response to his clients – particularly those living alone, without gardens – wanting a way to connect with others and work out in one.

Over the course of 45 minutes – while “keeping to the rules of social spacing” – participants could sprint or jog at their own pace, spliced with instructions from Fox such as to “stop and do 10 squats, then carry on running,” he says. “Everyone’s going at their own pace, so where you get to is where you get to.”

Kit up

Dust off those dumbbells gathering dust in the garage – as online deliveries boom, getting your hands on new kit may prove a little trickier than before. With lots of space at your disposal, a punching stand or trampoline from Decathlon are well worth a go.

Trampolining is “a great way to work on your cardiovascular endurance,” says Joan Murphy, co-founder of Frame, a studio available via the Classpass app, “and unlike running it’s easy on the joints so prevents wear and tear.” She suggests jumping jacks, twists and shuffles to ramp up a trampoline workout routine.  For more discreet workout fare, skipping ropes, kettlebells and weighted hula hoops can be used either alone or combined as part of a circuit.

If equipment is in short supply, Smith suggests getting resourceful: bottles filled with water, pots of paint and compost bags make reasonable workout tools, as do the tins you likely have a fair few of at the moment.

It’s not all about gear, though. Bodyweight routines can be just as effective and Tabata – 20 seconds of movement, with a 10 second rest – is a good way to maximise the intensity of a workout in a tight timeframe.

Decide what your exercises will be – squats, plank, bicycle crunches and short sprints, for example – and work in the 20 second window as rigorously as possible for around 15 minutes, or as long as you want your routine to last. Perfect in a garden and, provided you keep your distance, doable in the park, too.

Stretches in the sun

“There’s generally more space in a garden [than a studio], so it’s a great time to challenge your balance in standing postures like Warrior 3,” says Boudicca Fox-Leonard, a writer and yoga instructor. “From a high lunge, lift your back foot up and tilt the body until your back leg and torso are parallel to the ground. Supporting leg is straight. Spread the arms out wide like you’re a flying bird.”

Cat (flexed spine) and cow (arching it) poses are a staple of any session, she adds. To finish, lie back down on the ground, legs lengthened, and enjoy the view above.

Online fitness classes

Most gyms have switched to online classes “to help people stay physically fit from the confines of their home or garden,” says Mila Lazar (@milalazar), an instructor at Another Space fitness studio. She has been streaming sessions on social media from “Legs, Bums and Abs and pilates right through to a gruesome High Intensity Interval Training session.

The numbers of people tuning in is increasing every day,” she adds. Subscription apps such as Fiit and Peloton feature a range of options – from meditation to HIIT – to get stuck into if you’re unsure where to look first.

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