The importance of staying active during the colder months

Although the onset of colder weather and the ongoing risks of Covid-19 are making it a challenge right now, ‘en Joy dance fitness and Sport England are continuing to encourage people to be as active as possible over the autumn and winter months.

Our message is simple – being active is good for your physical health and good for your mental health and being as fit as possible right now is a great way to deal with illness and viruses.

But we know that people are feeling anxious about taking part in sport and activity and some people are worried generally about being around others. The group exercise industry has taken quite a hit, with people not feeling confident about returning to indoor group classes for a number of reasons. Primarily, the increased risks of Covid-19 transmission in indoor spaces, closely followed by anxiety over lockdown inactivity resulting in weight gain or decline in fitness. Rest assured, all ‘en Joy dance fitness classes comply with EMD UK group exercise guidelines, taking place in Covid compliant venues with a certified and insured instructor. Safety first, with fun & fitness coming a very close second! And we’re all in the same boat, no one is judging anyone else, just follow along at your own pace.

We want to help our local community feel comfortable to be as active as possible at this time and continue to take part in the activities that they love, so we will continue to offer limited spaces in all classes throughout the winter, to ensure each participant has adequate space to exercise comfortably and safely, so pre-booking continues to be essential at this time. If you come along to any of our dance fitness classes at Colden Common Community Centre, Pavilion on the Park in Eastleigh, Hursley Parish Hall, or Unit 12 in Winnall, we’re continuing to do all we can to ensure there is sufficient space to distance yourself from others, along with adequate ventilation to increase air flow, minimising the risk of transmission. Participants are encouraged to use the hand sanitiser provided and continue to take lateral flow tests regularly at home, to protect themselves and others.

Over the course of the lockdown period, Sport England conducted nationwide research to gain an insight into activity levels and attitudes towards being active up and down England, and close to 70% of people say they used being active to help manage their mental health. However, we are all concerned about recent drop-offs in activity levels and will be doing everything we can to support our community to get more active. The research shows that following the lockdown, just 29% of people were doing the recommended 30 minutes of activity five days a week. The data also showed 30% of over 55s were doing zero days of activity and that women were less likely to be regularly active than men.

During the colder months, our motivation to stay active can drop further. Going for a run on a cold, windy, rainy day just doesn’t have the same appeal as a run in the spring or summer. And getting up early on a cold, dark morning to head to the gym just makes some of us want to wrap the duvet around us even more tightly. You might not always look forward to coming along to our dance fitness classes either, especially if you have to walk there in the rain on a cold morning, knowing the doors and windows are left open where possible, to allow adequate ventilation in line with group exercise guidelines. But it’s really important you do what you can, when you can, even if that’s just working out at home, or wrapping up to go out for a walk. If you do decide to come along to classes, please bring an extra layer or two – a nice cosy sweatshirt or jacket, and we’ll do longer warm-ups on colder days to increase blood flow to the working muscles, reducing the risk of injuries, stiffness, aches and pains. We also provide a free fitness video library where you can access on-demand recordings for those days you really don’t want to head out.

Sport England Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth said:

“Being active is a vital tool to help us cope mentally with the challenges the months ahead will bring and physically to be fitter and healthier, to boost our immunity and to ward off illness.  

“We know that people face real challenges right now in their daily lives, whether that’s anxiety about the virus itself, financial concerns or uncertainty about what is or isn’t allowed.  Our message is that there has never been a more important time to take some time to be physically active. That might be using your local gym, which will have strict protocols in place to ensure safety, playing football within the regulations or just going for a walk – it all counts.

“We’ve got loads of great resources to help on the Sport England website including tips on how to get started.”

This post was written in collaboration with Sport England. ‘en Joy dance fitness is proud to support Sport England’s Join The Movement campaign, to help local communities stay active during the pandemic, along with their This Girl Can campaign, encouraging more women to get involved in sport and fitness. The source of Sport England’s data is the Physical Attitudes and Behaviours Survey, with approximately 2000 adult participants.

Image: Sport England