How getting active outdoors helped my mental health during lockdown


The pandemic and lockdown life had a huge impact on working mum Jayne, both physically and mentally. With her physical fitness lost, motivation difficult and the feeling of isolation growing Jayne was finding things tough.

Here Jayne shares her story of how planning in breaks into her work day helped her get active outdoors and ultimately overcome some of her challenges.

Tell us a bit about you and your struggles with getting active during the pandemic

Typically I am a very motivated person when it comes to exercise. I love being out running, swimming or on my bike. 

However, the onset of the pandemic has generated its own challenges. I guess the outward view would be that everything is ok, however this was/is not the case. Working at home every day for over a year, not seeing my work colleagues, not being able to see friends socially or for exercise and being confined to the house for most of the day has had a huge impact, both physically and mentally. 

Physical fitness was lost, motivation difficult to find and the feelings of isolation really crept in; to the extent that I have ‘hidden myself away’ to a certain extent I’m a little fearful of being around groups of people again

What level of fitness would you say you started from? 

My fitness level was below average I would say. I struggled to run for more than a few minutes at a time. This was hard to deal with as I’m normally fit and healthy, particularly for my age!

What did you do to try and stay active? 

Given that we were in lockdown with the associated restrictions, I went for runs most days and walked maybe once or twice a week too. Earlier in lockdown I bought my first mountain bike, when it wasn’t too wet I would go for short rides on that as well

What's your reason for getting active?

At the start of lockdown, I spent many hours a day stuck in my home office. As a result, not only did my weight increase (by around 8/9lbs), but I felt my mental health was suffering too. Most of the time, my job is intense and this causes pressure. This was compounded by home schooling (where I could) .

Where do you get active and how do you make it happen?

I am very lucky to live on the edge of the Wolds Way and so ran and walked from my house on and around the Wolds. In order to get away from my work desk, I set a diary reminder each day for one hour to exercise. Most days I managed to get out. Juggling around my diary meant that I could create the time for myself and then work in the evenings instead.

What are your tips for getting active?

Get out as much as you can during the day. Make the time to do so during daylight hours. When you are out, be aware of your surroundings; listen to the birds, watch the sky, enjoy the sunlight, wrap up against the cold, take some long deep breaths and relax. Stay safe if you are on your own too!