Ella Donnison: The Freedom of Exercise

There’s more to exercise than just keeping fit. Through the challenges of lockdown, Ella has not only found creative ways to replace the gym but also come to fully appreciate the value of exercise in her life.

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Exercise plays a massive part in my life, and during lockdown it has only become more important to me.

Exercise is freeing; it is a release; it takes me away from the stresses I feel in life. For 1 hour of my day it allows me to fully focus on myself and my own mind. The world around is tough and lockdown is draining. There’s nothing to focus on and it can be really difficult to motivate myself to do anything. Sometimes I dread the thought of putting on gym clothes and getting on with a workout, but I push myself to do it, because I know I will feel ten times better after it’s done.

For me, exercise is about the way it makes me feel. It has a massive impact on my mood; as soon as I’m done I feel so energized and accomplished. It sets me up for the day and is the structure needed in my life right now.

The mental health benefits to exercise are amazing; it reduces stress by giving your brain something to focus on and releases feel good hormones which make you feel better and boost your energy.

The great thing about exercise is that it’s totally unique for everyone; it doesn’t have to be running a marathon or training at the gym everyday (or at home in the current circumstances!). There are so many different ways you can keep fit and active, all of which increase your mood with the added benefit of increasing your fitness levels.

I have to admit, when the gyms closed I was disappointed – for years it felt like this was my only way to keep fit. I found it really hard to adapt at first and struggled with my mental health; constantly worrying that because my routine had changed I wouldn’t see the progress that I wanted to make. Change isn’t easy, but it’s helped me. It gave me freedom to try new exercises and workouts that I might never have tried – from daily stretching to high intensity classes and of course the obligatory Joe Wicks workouts! I realized you don’t need weights or equipment – you have everything you need in your home or outdoors!

Most importantly it’s made me realise the value in exercising for the way it makes you feel instead of it being a chore. So, if you’re bored in lockdown and need something to do maybe try something new, step outside your comfort zone – even if that’s just going for a small walk. It will make you feel better and proud of what you have accomplished.

5 recommended lockdown exercise resources:

  1. Sport for Confidence are experts in supporting people with mental (and physical) health issues to get active. They have a team of occupational therapists, delivering a specialist ‘at home’ service to support thousands of vulnerable adults through isolation.
  2. The NHS’s Couch to 5k is tried and tested as a really great way to get you running.
  3. Disability Horizons Top 10 exercises for disabled people
  4. For a full workout, which can be done indoors or outdoors, have a look at Hiit
  5. Yoga is good for the mind and body, Adrienne has lots of videos on YouTube

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