How fit are you post lockdown?
Updated: Jun 10, 2021
The lockdown had a significant effect on exercise habits globally. Here in the UK, UKactive reports a huge increase in the sale of home fitness equipment and uptake of online exercising. The reality is, however, a little different. From chatting to colleagues in the yoga industry I know that online yoga classes initially saw a surge in attendance, yet over the course of the lockdown class numbers dropped, attendance stagnated or even stopped entirely. We have already heard the reports of a mental health crisis looming post COVID-19, and a physical health crisis may be a reality for many of us who, for one reason or another, have exercised less, or not at all for several months!
Fitness declines fast
I am totally guilty of not exercising as much as I could have done and it has resulted in me feeling sluggish, tired and I haven't slept well, either. Our fitness declines after just 7 to 14 days of not exercising (Source: Active Fitness). I knew that my levels were definitely dropping, I felt the impact on my aerobic fitness, endurance, strength, flexibility, cardio capacity and so on. More significantly and importantly, I felt my functional fitness levels drop, the fitness that is needed to master everyday tasks and activities. I have an active 4 year old (although I seem to be running after my active 18 year old more)...and he had started to outpace me on every level! I am proud of how I have kept fit over the years. I am not a gym goer and generally not a huge fan of aerobic exercising, it just does not fill me with joy. Instead, I have been doing yoga for years and it's been so good for my physical, mental and spiritual health. Not doing yoga for weeks in a row saw my body very quickly deteriorate. I am in my mid 40s - I want to keep fit, and I certainly refuse to be outpaced by a 4 year old!
Where am I going with all this? Well, I wanted to share with you what happened when I did a fitness test...Now it must be said that this fitness test was just to give me an idea of how my fitness was doing, to get a benchmark for improvement and what areas to work on. I felt so flat, so was expecting a terrible outcome. And yes, there is room for improvement. Mostly, I felt completely exhausted after the test, legs like lead. Urgh! Without further ado, here are my results.
The fitness test & my results
Generally, fitness is assessed in four key areas: aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition.
This test was taken after a period of approx 3 months with little exercise. The results and targets are age and gender appropriate.
Test 1 - Resting Heart Rate | Result 78 (Average) | Target <=60 | Update June 2021 Result 92 (Poor)*
Test 2 - Push-ups (Upper Body Muscular Endurance) | Result 10 | Target 14 | Update June 2021 Result 14
Test 3 - Sit-ups (Abdominal Muscular Endurance) | Result 30 | Target 25 | Update June 2021 Result 47
Test 4 - Sit & Reach (Hamstring, Low back & Hip Flexibility) | Result 52 cm | Target 50 cm | Update June 2021 Result 57 cm
Test 5 - BMI | Result 19.8 | Target 18.5 - 24.9 | Update June 2021 Result 19.1
Test 6 - Aerobic Heart Rate | Result 123 | Target 88 - 145 | Update June 2021 Result Did not test
Test 7 - Head Turning (Neck Flexibility) | Result Good | Target Good | Update June 2021 Result Very Good
Test 8 - Plank (Core Strength) | Result 70 sec (above average) | Target 2 minutes | Update June 2021 Result 75 sec
Test 9 - Gomukhasana (Shoulder Mobility) | Result Good | Target Good | Update June 2021 Result Not so good!**
Test 10 - Wall Sit (Leg Endurance & Strength) | Result 46 sec (v good) | Target min 46 sec | Update June 2021 Result 65 sec (excellent)
Pheww! I actually did better that I thought I would. The worrying fact for me is that I know I am in decline at the moment whilst I am not exercising. My resting heart rate is a little high and upper body muscular endurance could be better. Everything else is okay, not great, but okay and within the suggested targets for my gender and age. The key is to start exercising again and not watch the decline happen. I already have a healthy diet after working with a nutritional therapist, so that will have helped my results, too.
Recommended exercise targets for adults generally are:
At least 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic activity (such as a flow yoga class) per week and strength training (yoga counts as calisthenic exercise) for all major muscle groups 2x per week (Source: Mayo Clinic Helathy Lifestyle Fitness).
Update June 2021 | Summary: To be fair, had I done this test in April, it would undoubtedly have been poor. Exercise moral was low, I did not have much inclination to move, the weather wasn't great..you know, lockdown blues in full swing. But since the studio re-opened mid-May, I have been teaching a lot. Several times a week. I have started to feel my body shape up again, the muscle memory kicking in for things like plank pose. I have even worn a dress the other day (and have not felt comfortable with that for a while). The *resting heart rate is an interesting one. I have had some pretty devastating news yesterday and have been navigating the situation since. I have moved from (diagnosed) post traumatic stress to acute stress, so the resting heart rate is currently high, and hard for me to bring down. But I am trying as THIS level is not sustainable. The **shoulder mobility is interesting as well. In the Gomukhasana pose (as shown on the photo) I currently cannot reach the fingers, I cannot even get close. On both sides I am currently unable to do a full internal shoulder rotation on the lower arm. I can bring both arms back and very comfortably clasp opposite elbows behind my back, but not sure what causes the lack of rotation. I hadn't really noticed it before I did this test, and will try and figure this out to get mobility back in that part of my shoulders.
What do we learn from this?
You can get your fitness and mobility back and maintain it with regular movement. I am happy with my physical fitness levels at the moment, and my target area is my mental health. Getting the stress under control will be key to my continued wellbeing.
If you are interested in finding out more about the fitness test I did and how to assess your own fitness at home, drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I will take the same measurements about six weeks after going back to a regular exercise programme. In my case my goal is to get to a combination of a flow yoga sequence (2x week for strength and endurance) with yin yoga (1x week for strengthening the connective tissues, flexibility and mobility) and a run (I am doing the 5k to couch with my son, we run 3x week). I will add a restorative yoga sequence whenever I get a chance - it's great to work on physical fitness, but restorative yoga will help me sleep better and be more calm. Oh, and a massage for some additional r&r...ahhh, lovely! I am looking forward to my new regime :)
Yoga at Unwind Yoga Studio
The schedule at the studio when we relaunch after the COVID-19 closure will include classes that help you reach optimal functional fitness, which includes flexibility, mobility, balance, muscular strength and endurance, cardiorespiratory health, balance, weight management and mental health. Coming to a class once a week is superb, real results will be seen in those that manage to join us 3x per week. We will also start offering some additional wellbeing nuggets - watch this space!
Remember, if you are interested in finding out more about the fitness test I did and how to assess your own fitness at home, drop me an email: email@example.com
See you soon!
(Unwind Yoga Studio is located in Cookham, Maidenhead, in Berkshire)