By Catriona McAllister, CEO, Jersey Sport
It’s a proven fact that sport and regular activity supports both our physical and mental health and wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions have been a double edged sword. On one hand people were restricted in terms of the sports they could play, the indoor activities they could take part in and the social aspect of group exercise. While on the other hand, people suddenly had their timetables turned upside down and were gifted an opportunity to share exercise and daily movement with family both within the home and by exploring local parks, forests and seaside promenades. I personally loved seeing more people out on our roads, footpaths and pavements and hope this continues well into our ‘new normal’.
The shift into autumn and winter means many people give up on their outdoor activities in favour of indoor classes, gym-based workouts or home exercise, which has undoubtedly seen a huge rise in popularity since the pandemic. In Jersey, we are lucky to have so many outdoor spaces and beautiful natural landscapes that encourage us to continue moving outdoors throughout the year. Running or cycling around a busy, grey city centre definitely doesn’t hold the same degree of attraction! We also have a very active local population, with thousands of people surfing, running, cycling and sea swimming every week, whatever the weather.
When it comes to exercising for improved health and fitness, consistency is key, and the last 18 months have made it difficult for many people to maintain a regular exercise routine. With a change in weather and daylight hours approaching over the coming weeks, it’s important that we ensure we’re prepared, so that we don’t slip into the easy trap of using the weather as an excuse to do nothing.
Remember: focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.
Continuing to be active throughout autumn and winter means you won’t feel like a beginner again next spring. Plus, exercise is a great immune system boost which means that regular exercise helps your body better fight illness – particularly the usual colds and viruses that do the rounds each year. Exercising in colder weather forces your body, in particular your cardio vascular system, to work harder during exercise, meaning that you’ll continue to see improvements in your fitness, even when it feels more difficult.
Some of the ways you can support yourself with outdoor exercise through the autumn and winter include:
At Jersey Sport, we believe that this is a time to be optimistic about our island’s future health and wellbeing. The Government of Jersey’s Inspiring an Active Jersey Strategy sets out a framework to achieve a more active population by 2030. An increase in the number of islanders playing or supporting sport will boost the economy through both the indirect effect of a healthier population as well as its direct financial contribution. Sport and physical activity has to be placed at the heart of our island’s long-term strategies in order to achieve these considerable goals in our island’s recovery.
To find out more about Sporting opportunities for islanders this autumn, or details of the Inspiring an Active Jersey Strategy, please visit jerseysport.je.
If you’d like to join a walking group, cycling group, running programme or take part in any of the Move More Jersey exercise classes or other initiatives, please visit movemore.je
This article was originally published in the Bailiwick Express on 16 September 2021.