Meet the physical activity champions showing how Leicester and Leicestershire can stay active during Lockdown 2
- Our fantastic five will appear in a new Active Together campaign promoting the benefits of activity in the run-up to December 2 and beyond
- Group describe how keeping moving has helped mental and physical wellbeing
- Walking, running and cycling were popular with the UK public during Lockdown 1
- Champions will appear in advertising campaign - and are available for interview too
Say hello to five Leicester and Leicestershire people who will safely keep on moving as the UK continues to work its way through the second national lockdown.
The activity champions will feature in an Active Together campaign which launches today (Monday 9 November) across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We will share their stories across local media, bus panel adverts and social media campaigns with a clear message: being active benefits both your physical and mental health.
There are plenty of ways of keeping fit and active during lockdown. Our champions have described how they got their daily dose of exercise during the last lockdown. We know it’s colder and wetter out there and that is why we hope our champions will inspire others to follow their lead. We want you to safely get active and look after your wellbeing, your way. This campaign is about finding what activity suits you in the current situation to enhance your physical and mental wellbeing.
So why is it important to stay active? Exercise is important not only for our physical health but also our mental wellbeing. Adults should aim to be active for 150 minutes per week to stay healthy or improve their health. That's only 30 minutes per day, five days a week. To be active means moving at a level that increases your breathing and heart rate. Therefore, three of the easiest ways you can be active are walking, running and cycling all of which were popular during Lockdown 1.
This is why Active Together is working to help residents change habits and adopt healthier behaviours around physical activity. There are many ways busy mums and dads, families, young people, office workers and older adults can build physical activity into their lives. Its campaign shows how the route to consistent physical activity can start with something as simple as taking a walk around the local area, a gentle bike ride or playing at the park.
The social media campaign highlighting our five activity champions, along with a further 19 activity champions from across the area, will be promoted by the Active Together partners. These include Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Rutland County Council, all Leicestershire District/Borough Councils and our School Sport & Physical Activity Partnerships. A longer list of partners is below.
For more information and ideas for getting active in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, visit www.lrsport.org/active-together
So who are our faces of physical activity during Lockdown 2?
Meet Matt, Leicester
“As a pub landlord by trade I was really worried that during the last lockdown I would become inactive and slip into bad habits. My job is really active, so it was important I replaced all my daily steps with something else. I started running, first with the NHS Couch to 5k scheme, then continued at my own pace after completing the course to reach my current level of approximately 40k per week split over 5 separate runs – something I have never done before!
My job really puts a demand on my time so to have a period of weeks/months where I did not have a schedule to follow felt very alien to me.
Exercise has given me some routine that has help me to structure my life. I was also driven by the fear of looking back on this period without work and having no positives to show for it! The running has made me feel fit and healthy. I do not get out of breath anymore like I used to! I am also much happier with my body shape. My mental health has improved greatly, and I have found it really helps to reduce any stress and manage my chronic arthritis in my feet and hands (something I was diagnosed with 4 years ago).
My advice would be recognise a bad day as exactly that, it's one day so don't let it stop you from trying again tomorrow.”
Meet Angelica, Leicester
“As well as being a Wellbeing Advisor for Live Well Leicester I have my own business called Fusions of Fitness and Wellbeing. It's about empowering everyone to stay active. I send positives quotes every day as well as providing the exercise element. I have been delivering online exercise (about 3 Facebook sessions every day) for the last few weeks. I try not to go overboard and just focus on one form of exercise.
We have also exercised as a family. My daughter rides her BMX bike to school and I ride it home. Being active during the last COVID-19 lockdown massively helped me and my family. When I wasn't active on Facebook i.e. running sessions, I made the decision to stay active. I can't stress how much it helps me and my endorphins. I have to exercise. It's important to identify what is right for you. I choose to exercise at 7am as this fits in with my life. If time allowed I would do it 3 times a day!
My advice would be start small and work your way up, something is better than nothing at all i.e. stepping up and down the stairs, using a can of beans as weights. Movement is key.”
Meet Debbie and Hollie, Melton Mowbray
"The main way we stayed active in the last lockdown was through Melton's virtual parkrun, as well walks and Just Dance. However, my daughter, Hollie, has finally grown and fits a bike she was given a couple of years ago so I decided to buy a second hand one so we could go out together. She has now decided that she would like to do a marathon bike ride and raise money for charity; so, our training rides are now keeping us very active.
We've really enjoyed staying active and it has helped with my mental wellbeing knowing we could get out and about each day. We couldn't not go out to stay physically active over the last lockdown, it was something to focus on. Now, however, our focus is getting fit on the bikes to be able to complete the charity challenge.
I like how exercise makes me feel. It resets my mood and makes me feel better about myself. Also, if I beat a goal or do better than last time, I find that really motivating. Sometimes, it is difficult to motivate a small child to get out and about. I tried to vary what kind of exercise we did, where we went and how we got there. We have gone on some adventures and turned down roads and paths we never would have gone down before, so now we know more about our town than we did before.
Our advice would be set a goal or a target to cover a distance, to run for an amount of time etc and see if you can achieve it or go better than last time.”
Meet Reema, Coalville
“Throughout this year, including through the last lockdown, I have been offering Bhangra fitness classes to community groups and ladies through virtual platforms and face to face classes (with social distancing measures in place). It was really hard to stop face-to-face classes when the last lockdown began but by explaining to clients how easy it was to stay active at home and showing videos of how easy it was follow, they were happy to join in the classes online and remain consistent in their daily exercise regimes. Staying active has really helped me stay focused and disciplined in staying health and mentally fit. I have managed to lose weight and inches and also offer guidance to others to do the same. My Bhangra fitness classes help to increase my energy levels, improve stamina, and help with coordination and flexibility.
My advice would be just give exercise a try! It takes 3 times to actually like something and it doesn't matter if you haven't tried any form of exercise before the fact that you have taken the first step to try is the first challenge. It is also about seeing yourself as a healthier version of yourself and how that would make you feel if you actually did achieve that.”