Staying well during lockdown

Mike is a retired GP and a member of our Scottish Council Executive Committee. He lives in Alyth in Perthshire, and is vice-convener of our Forth Valley, Fife & Tayside area. 

We are now into our ninth week of lockdown in Scotland and I suspect that all of us feel at least a little weary of it – regardless of how vital it is for the nation.

From my decades working as a GP, I feel that there are some easy, useful steps that we can all take to help alleviate some of the frustration, while also staying safe and healthy.

I thought that now might be a good time to share some tips on how we can keep well and resilient, before we can all walk together again. 

Physical health
In many ways, our physical health is the easiest issue to address by each taking some simple measures. All of these suggestions must be tempered by existing physical health and fitness; and if you’ve in any doubt, take advice. In addition, do make sure to follow the latest official guidelines, as for now these are our best weapons against COVID-19.

I strongly recommend taking a look at the exercise advice on the NHS’s Live Well webpages. In particular, it has some excellent tips about brisk walking and a very wide range of exercise programmes. 

If, like me, you are a ‘little older’, it’s worth checking out the routines for people aged 65 and over, including some great strength, flexibility and balance exercises that you can do indoors. I’ve enjoyed the Pilates for Beginners and Chair Pilates videos, which each last for about 30-40 minutes.

The programmes are varied and offer something for all, including ‘Couch to 5k’ for the adventurous.

Mental health 
We are social animals and one of the most vital factors for our mental health is social interaction, yet clearly this is harder than normal right now. 

We are limited by whom we can meet in person, so I’d encourage everyone to regularly pick up the phone and have a chat with a friend or family member. You’ll both feel the better for it. 

If you prefer, send an email, letter or card to an old friend to let them know you are thinking of them. There are the usual social media outlets and we can also use video conferencing websites. Personally, I have been really enjoying playing online Bridge with friends at this time.

Even very gentle physical activity has a very positive effect on our general wellbeing.

It does not need to be too strenuous; and engaging with the environment whilst we are out is also of value, spiritually and emotionally. Ramblers Scotland’s president Lucy Wallace has written some great new blogs - including about the pleasure she gets from safe litter-picking and how to spot the turning of the seasons on our local walks. 

Remember that helping others also helps us. It may be the social interaction, the feel-good factor or perhaps the activity itself. The important point is that both the helper and the helped benefit. 

There are ideas for how to volunteer safely and usefully here and the Ramblers will also be in touch with volunteers in the coming weeks to update everyone about individual volunteering, once it’s safe to do so. 

And finally...
Finally, always remember this pandemic will end, and at some point we will be back doing what we love; walking. 

In the meantime, let’s all take a few simple steps to keep ourselves well and fit for that exciting day.