Lockdown health and fitness tips
These are uncertain times for us, writes fitness coach Lucy O’Sullivan. Never before has an outdoor season been left in limbo so drastically as this, but please don’t despair. Know that as an archer you have a whole network of fabulous people to help you through these tough times.
First step: exercise!
I’m very lucky. I set up my own business @strengthbylucy in a gym in Jersey right along the seaside promenade in St. Helier. So when coronavirus hit, I took my gym and made it al fresco (while maintaining social distancing of at least 2m away from others). And during the lockdown, I’ve been coaching the same fabulous people over Facetime and Zoom sessions, so my life didn’t change too much!
The one thing that has struck me during these times is the amount of people out walking, running and cycling along the seaside promenade. In my five years of being at my gym, I have never seen so many people outside at this time of year. So if one good thing comes from this virus, it is the appreciation of being outside and getting some fresh air and exercise.
While government guidance allows, make sure you cycle, run, or walk at least once a day (even in your home or garden if necessary; shuttle runs are perfect for small gardens) especially if you are working from home, as it will improve your mental happiness and increase your cardiovascular system, ready for when we come back to archery.
Strength work for archery
Many people have asked me to create an app so they can follow online exercises etc but these come at extreme costs to the creator. What you may not realise is that large brands have already created their own apps, which are awesome and FREE!
When I have more time, I will be putting stuff together for free, on YouTube (O’Sullivan Archery) during these times, but if you want a fancy, slick app to follow at home or outside, please try out the pro companies too.
My top at-home exercises that will assist your archery are:
PRESS-UPS, SIDE PLANKS, ROWS (for increased difficulty, try using full bags of shopping), OVERHEAD PRESS (use shopping bags), BICEP CURLS, LATERAL HOLDS/RAISES.
Second step: anxiety regulation
Anxiety will decrease with exercise, which is why you may have heard phrases such as “runners high”, but more specifically for emotional regulation, exercise such as yoga allows your body to properly relax and gives your mind space, to be calm. Apps such as Alo Moves and YouTube will enable you to practice yoga for free.
Psychologists are releasing lots of great stuff at the moment to help you with your performance on return to archery, such as EP Psychology, and things that can actively reduce stress and anxiety are apps such as Calm and Headspace, as they give you the tools, like meditation for example, to improve relaxation and emotional regulation. Just think how ‘zen’ you will be during competition after the lockdown!
Another meditation-type exercise, that you can do during this time, is equipment tinkering. Fletching arrows is a great mindful pastime during lockdown, as it gives your brain something to completely focus on while also providing it with much-needed space. It gives you time to think about your archery goals for example, and time to ‘escape’ from a busy household for some valuable ‘me time’.
Third step: self-care
Sleep. So many people are struggling with this at the moment. I think the lockdown has caused body clocks to get totally out of whack as there is no routine! To combat this, I encourage you all to set a ‘sleep alarm’ at 9/10pm, in which you have to go to bed, or start getting ready for bed by having a bath or doing something calming. After all, parents do this with their kids so why wouldn’t / couldn’t you do this for yourself?
Routine is key, and sleeping more increases the lovely hormones that aid recovery after working out, and decreases the hormones that make you crave starchy foods. Note: Do NOT have alcohol if you want a good night’s sleep, and try to avoid excess screen time before bed. Reading a good book in a cosy warm bed instead of watching TV on your sofa will really help you drift off at night, so you are refreshed in the morning.
As mentioned, sleep helps reduce starchy food cravings, so the more sleep you get, the less you will want the ‘bad’ foods and takeaways during these times. Many of my clients have already complained about weight gain during the lockdown, due to less movement and more stress eating, and potentially more alcohol consumption. So keep a routine: midweek you eat healthy foods such as meat/meat substitutes and vegetables and do NOT drink alcohol. Then on Friday night, allow yourself a takeaway and a tipple of your choice as a treat. Maybe on a Saturday morning have a bacon sarnie, but that is it – back to good, healthy foods such as a roast, or a nice bit of fish and veg. During this time do try on your jeans once a week, to make sure that you are moving enough and eating right.
Last step: keep social!
The last thing to keep happy and healthy is socialising. We are primates and primates need contact with other primates. The great thing is that we can all do online socialising, using Facetime, Houseparty, Facebook Messenger, and Zoom.
I have been really lucky that I can still do my coaching job online 1:1 with clients, and that gives me lots of socialisation during the week. But my friends and I have also been doing pub quizzes online on Friday nights as a way of having a fun catch-up. And don’t forget your archery pals. My archery friends have been keeping in contact with me online too, which is great for staying in the loop! Set up email threads with your friends and if you don’t have other options, make quizzes for each other, or do things such as sending photos of your local walks to each other to keep in contact and keep morale high.
Stay safe guys, keep a routine, and keep active.
You can find out more about Lucy’s work here. Follow Lucy on Facebook @LucyOSullivanArchery and Twitter @OSullivan_Lucy
Please take note of Archery GB’s disclaimer regarding activity/exercise-related content on our channels: https://www.archerygb.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Archery-GB-Disclaimer.pdf