By Catriona McAllister, CEO, Jersey Sport
If you’re passionate about sport and fitness, you’ve likely found ways to adapt, innovate and stay in the game throughout the challenges of the last 18 months, as well as through the changing seasons and the darker evenings.
But not everyone possesses that same level of motivation and determination to keep moving during the winter months, when cosy log fires and roast dinners are far more appealing than running in the rain, or cycling in the dark.
When it comes to health and wellbeing, I don’t believe anyone on this island should be left behind. As part of the Government of Jersey’s Inspiring an Active Jersey Strategy, Jersey Sport are key players in increasing physical activity amongst islanders by 10%, by 2030. Having now lost almost two years to a pandemic, 2030 is going to come around faster than we think!
Older age groups have been most affected in terms of returning to exercise, and this has a detrimental effect not just on their physical health, but also on their mental and emotional wellbeing. Many elderly people live alone, often in small homes, with little human contact from day to day and experience severe loneliness – but this generation are frequently afraid to ask for help, seeing it as a sign of weakness.
I want to let people know that whatever their age, physical fitness or ability, there is something available – either privately or in the community – that provides the support you need to boost your health and wellbeing.
Gyms and small fitness businesses have been hit hard during the pandemic, but they have fought hard, stayed vigilant and re-opened with exceptional standards of cleanliness and hygiene. As a champion for regular exercise, I really want islanders to have confidence in the sport and fitness sector and to return to their indoor classes and gyms over the winter. With our support, these clubs and organisations can continue to invest in the future and provide bigger, better facilities for a growing and ageing population.
The home exercise sector grew exponentially over the pandemic, with personal trainers, yoga teachers, physiotherapists and mindset specialists all creating video-based content for free to encourage and motivate people all around the world to keep moving. Remember: ‘If you don’t use it, you lose it!’ Here on Jersey, with so many fitness and sports professionals, we were blessed with endless opportunities to join classes via Zoom, which gave us the opportunity to maintain our fitness as well as the vital human connection that helps avoid loneliness and isolation. If the home exercise phenomenon passed you by last year, then maybe now is the perfect moment to explore the possibilities. Plus, it comes with the bonus of zero commuting time and no need to find a parking space or walk in the dark or the rain!
Strength and conditioning training – using weights or body weight exercises – is a great way to improve your muscular strength and endurance, improve bone health and boost your immune system. It requires minimal equipment that can be stored neatly in the corner of a room, making it the perfect choice for home exercise alongside mat-based activities like yoga or Pilates.
We are incredibly lucky to have an excellent vaccination programme on the island, and in addition to following the latest Public Health guidelines, we can also play a role in boosting our immune systems through regular exercise, sunlight (vitamin D) and healthy eating. Maintaining, or achieving, a healthy weight and avoiding obesity is key not only to a more positive outcome from COVID-19, but in reducing the risk factor of developing major diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Walking (or other cardio-vascular exercise) for just 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week, alongside a varied diet that includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and home-cooked meals, can help you stay well, particularly through the winter months when there are potentially more viruses and infections.
Building a healthy immune system, a strong physical body and resilient mental health should be our individual priority and personal responsibility. Investing your time and energy in learning and developing healthy habits and physical skills is a gift you will never regret giving yourself. Imagine how much your life could change for the better if you adopted new habits today.
To find out more about local sporting opportunities, or details of the Inspiring an Active Jersey Strategy, please visit: jerseysport.je.
If you’d like some support with how to win with your exercise this winter, or how to join a walking group, cycling group, or take part in any of the Move More Jersey exercise classes we offer, please visit: www.movemore.je
Jersey Sport’s YouTube channel also contains some videos with guidance on how to move more at home, please visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6p_8pZfJcEZWVlAQOCq9Fw
This article was originally published in the Bailiwick Express on 11 November 2021.