2020 / 2021 has been a pretty incredible year. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt the world over, in every profession and in every way of life. The global lockdowns that were enforced saw innovative ways in which individuals and groups from a plethora of backgrounds look to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle.
From a sporting perspective, various lockdowns, restrictions on freedom of movement and an impact on what could otherwise be described as ‘normal life’ has affected the amount and the way that people train.
The Impact of Lockdowns On Physical Training
The Sport England Active Lives Survey has found there was a significant decline in physical activity rates throughout the country between mid-March and mid-May. With the government introducing a National lockdown, an adaptation to normal training methods was essential for those looking to maintain a level of physical and mental well-being during such a difficult time.
Quantifying ‘inactive’ as an individual performing less than 30 minutes of exercise in a week, the survey identified that almost 12 million adults we categorised as such during the time-period at the start of the lockdown. As a result, this saw a rise of almost 7.4% since before the pandemic.
At the other end of the spectrum, the official recommended amount of exercise for an individual is 150 minutes per week. Throughout the same time span of mid-March to mid-May, the survey found that the number of people achieving this target fell by 7.1%, translating to just over 3 million fewer active people.
Whilst the closure of gyms and leisure centres was a key contributor to such a decline in physical activity, the national lockdown provided two extremes of the spectrum. Before the pandemic, a day without specific physical activity would have involved a number of activities that provided a physical exertion of sorts; food shopping, travel to and from work or a visit to see friends.
The ‘new normal’ at the start of the summer brought with it a greater impact of a lack of physical exertion; sedentarism. An individual being confined to their house for 23 hours of the day would inevitably spend a greater proportion of that time sitting or lying down compared to their daily routine before the pandemic. Regardless of the level of intensity that the one of hour exercise demonstrated, it would be difficult to overcome the lack of movement throughout the remaining hours of the day.
How To Change A Routine
A change in physical activity opportunities inevitably coincided with a lack of willingness or ability to change routine and for a number of individuals throughout England, that resulted in a decline in physical activity.
So just why do we find ourselves reluctant to change when it comes to fitness?
Maintaining a routine is important for one’s physical and psychological well-being and therefore a consistent method of training is most likely utilised due to its’ perceived benefits. Recognising the benefit of an alternative method of training can often take time, motivation and a willingness to learn, all of which have become increasingly diminished within modern society.
How To Exercise During Lockdown
For many however, lockdown provided an opportunity to try something new. A perfect example is that of outdoor running, which saw a 1.5% increase over the same time period of lockdown in the United Kingdom (translated to 731,000 people). The inevitable rush for online orders of running shoes, such as Adidas and Nike, spiked and the enthusiasm for attempting a new skill or style of training that peaked for the year.
With empty roads and nice weather throughout the summer, cycling also saw a significant increase in participation. Easy to distinguish between individual and group sessions (all while maintaining social distance) and able to cater to every individuals’ level of ability, cycling benefitted from the circumstances britons throughout the country found themselves in throughout 2020.
When it comes to ways of staying fit however, online classes and virtual workouts exploded in popularity, with a primary example being that of Joe Wicks‘ online sessions via his Youtube Channel.
Often marketed as a quick and efficient way to stay in shape with minimal equipment, it provided the perfect platform for those looking to utilise the lockdown period for some valuable training opportunities. Online classes allow individuals to work out at their own pace, in the comfort of their own home and without the necessity of travel to their chosen gym location. A plethora of choices to suit any style of workout, as highlighted by The Independent promoting their own top-10 workouts, provides a suitable opportunity for everyone to find a workout that works for them.
How Do Elite Sports Train During Lockdown
For elite sports men and women, access to specific equipment has been identified as a significant hindrance to athletic performance during the COVID-19 lockdown during the Sport England Active Lives Survey. With many professional and semi-professional athletes subsequently struggling to replicate the quality and intensity of their normal training routine, maintaining an elite level of performance became a considerable struggle for many athletes that were not granted the special dispensation to continue training by the UK Government.
As a result, many were left to find the best possible replacement, often focusing on a specific aspect of their training to the detriment of others i.e. running workouts as apposed to power lifting.
Whilst the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sporting activity has been profound for many, the training plateaus that can often accompany a similar style of training can be challenged with the adjustment to a new sport, style, duration and intensity of workout. As with any new style of training however, the benefits only really begin to be seen after a sustained period of its’ implication. As a result, looking to capitalise on the opportunity to implement a new style of training provides the perfect platform from which to refresh training motivation as well as targeting new areas for improvement within your own current healthy lifestyle regime.
The big question as we move into 2021 is therefore simple; is this new style of minimal equipment, minimal expense, home-workout fitness regime sustainable when we return to normal, or will we all return to our pre-lockdown training routines as soon as we are able to do so?