While the world continues to navigate through uncharted waters surrounding the coronavirus, one thing we DO know, is that exercise is not only essential for body and mind, but recent studies have also shown that exercise is beneficial for reducing the potential impacts of respiratory illnesses such as the coronavirus.  

According to a new study from researchers at the University of Bath, “Keeping up regular, daily exercise at a time when much of the world is going into isolation will play an important role in helping to maintain a healthy immune system. 

Regardless of whether you exercise at a higher intensity or moderately, lead study author’s, Dr James Turner and Dr John Campbell from the University of Bath's Department for Healthmaintain that in the short term, exercise can help the immune system find and deal with pathogens, and in the long term, regular exercise slows down changes that happen to the immune system with ageing, therefore reducing the risk of infections. 

Thauthors conclude that under the current circumstances, exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health and wellbeing (provided it’s in isolation and with social distancing in mind) as regular activity helps to maintain the way the immune system works, rather than suppress it. Just another reason to continue doing what we love – running!  

When it comes to staying on top of your game amidst the coronavirus pandemic, some of our experienced FFA coaches share their top tips and strategies to help you stay focused and motivated. 

Owner and founder of Fitness From Africa, Marcel Viljoen has the following suggestions:

  • Keep moving - even though you maybe be tempted to site moe.
  • Train more than once a day but do less than you used to do.
  • Don't focus on things you can't do, but rather look around at what you have at home and get creative and consistent with your equipment.
  • Develop a maintenance mindset, as we don't know how long we will have to wait before the lockdown is over and changing goals every few weeks is demoralising.
  • Keep your training balanced with cardio, mobility, strength, flexibility, visualising and dreaming ahead!
  • Be mindful of your nutrition - training less might require smaller portions to avoid catching up afterwards.

Don't Forget Your Mental Health

Cian Oldknow who has her Honours degree in Sports Science and Sports Psychology has a holistic view towards training in this time. She says, While its difficult to set specific race goals at the moment, it’s still important to focus on flexible goals that you can achieve and that encompass more than just running. For instance, you could work on improving your core strength with daily or weekly exercises so that you’re stronger and more balanced when racing season rolls around. Or you could simply make it a goal to think of 5 things you’re grateful for every day.  

Feeling and expressing emotions (good or bad) is another important aspect of mental health. Cian believes that it’s normal and healthy to express sadness, anger or disappointment about trips that have been postponed, or races that have been cancelled. However, it’s best not to wallow and “sit” in the sadness for too long, otherwise these emotions can become debilitating. “Use this time as a positive time to run, rest, recover and spend quality time with family,” she adds.  

Expert Tip #1

While its difficult to set specific race goals at the moment, it’s still important to focus on flexible goals that you can achieve and that encompass more than just running.”

Cian Oldknow

Diversify Your Workouts

Precious Hlaka, who coaches FFA runners at the Dainfern High Performance Centre and the FFA Diepsloot Development Group believes that there are still many ways to stay fit, strong and healthy throughout the lockdown periodNow is a good time to focus on your mobility, flexibility, general strength and core strength, because many runners I coach don’t have much time to incorporate strength routines into their running programmes throughout the season. If you’re unsure of what type of strength workouts you should be doing, we are here to assist!”  

Cian agrees that the key to staying strong is to switch things up. “We’re so used to movement in our everyday lives, that it’s vital to keep your body moving and happy under lockdownIn addition to running, try skipping, yoga, bodyweight training and walks in the time you’re allowed out. 

Expert Tip #2

“Now is a good time to focus on your mobility, flexibility, general strength and core strength.

Precious Hlaka

Running coach and personal trainer, Tamlyn Stevens has plenty of tricks up her sleeve when it comes to keeping your training interesting during lockdown. She says, “In these tough, uncertain times it’s so important to stay fit and healthy because as the saying goes, “Tough times won’t last, but tough people do!” 

Try to come up with new, exciting ways to perform strength exercises at home- with the limited equipment you may have. For instance, you could use a basket and fill it with water bottles to make a kettlebell.  

The truth is, you don't need as much space as you think you do to keep fit,” says Tamlyn. All you need is a 10m space and your own imagination. Change up your routine everyday so that you don't get bored. So, rather than running the same 5km loop at the same pace, challenge yourself with speed drills or pick a hill and do repeats. You could also turn your exercise session into a circuit. Where you run for a short time and incorporate 4 other exercises which you repeat. 

Expert Tip #3

“All you need is a 10m space and your own imagination.

Tamlyn Stevens

Create A Schedule That Works For You

Ronaldo van Wyk who specialises in coaching middle and long-distance athletes in track and field, road running and cross-country disciplines believes it’s important to take this lockdown seriously. He says, “Stay safe and exercise if you have space and equipment. Live by the mantra, Train, eat, rest, repeat!” 

Expert Tip #4

“Train, eat, rest, repeat!

Ronaldo van Wyk

Running and trail running coach, Brendan McBirnie, who has his Honours in Sports Science says that shorter, high intensity exercise is ideal to practice in this time. “Not only can these types of workouts be achieved indoorsbut studies have shown that they have a powerful cross over effect with endurance training, which means you can maintain your endurance gains without having to worry about missing out on your long runs. The key is to work out a regular, achievable routine. This will keep you motivated, strong and fit while in lockdown.”  

Expert Tip #5

“High intensity exercise is ideal to practice in this time."

Brendan McBirnie

Take The Time To Stop, Reflect  And Smell The Roses!

As a passionate teacher, trainer and athletics coach, Marko Bucarizza shares what he’s been focusing on in this time:  

  • Ive been using the time I have to reflect on my personal achievements in athletics. This involves write ups, saving my results and gathering pictures. This really brings me great joy and serves as a good reminder to celebrate my achievements more. I truly believe that all athletes should do this, as we get so caught up in results all the time.  
  • I’m working on aspects of my training that I’ve always wanted to put more time into such as flexibility, core and strength work 
  • Because I’m so passionate about running, I’ve loved learning more and bettering my knowledge on training principles and factors that contribute towards running performance. 
  • Ive enjoyed the change of daily runs in my garden but look forward to heading out a little more now, under level 4 restrictions.  
  • I’ve been reflecting on togetherness and am grateful for what I have and the ability to send my love to people.  
  • It’s important to reflect and be grateful during this time. To look inwards and be at peace with yourself. It’s also wise to stick to a schedule as this brings a continuous sense of accomplishment each day. 

#Lockdown Breakout

 10 km Challenge

Join our next 10 km fitness challenge TODAY:

In the mood for an exciting, new challenge to get you back on the right track and kick the coronavirus blues? Sign up to our FREE #Lockdown Breakout 10km fitness challenge today!

What can you expect?

  • The choice between Sub 40-minute, 50-minute, 60-minute or 70-minute programs
  • A variety of sessions, including tempo, hills and speed work to increase your strength and speed
  • Each session has individual pace guidelines
  • Program guidelines and instructions
  • The chance to upload and analyse your training stats
  • Great prizes to be won