How to stay active during the lockdown

What about you, how do you remain physically active during this unprecedented period?


Mathieu Nedelec, sport scientist in charge of research projects on sleep and recovery. I teach best practices to improve sleep and performance. I will read your answers carefully and let you know when my next posts will be published.

The lockdown is necessary to contain the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19, but it leads the overall population to be less physically active. Even if it is not clearly visible, this decrease is effective during this period. Let’s not be distracted by the visible part of active people, which is blown out of proportion through the magnifying mirror of social networks. Let’s rather consider the invisible part - much more important and quiet - represented by all those who have stopped exercising in their daily lives. The extended stay at home policy increases sedentary behaviours (excessive sitting or lying down time) and decreases energy expenditure; it also contributes to anxiety and depression. In Paris, individual physical activity is banned between 10:00am and 7:00pm. This is a way to toughen the measures to strive the coronavirus spread in France. But this is an additional constraint which will not favour “people programmed for laziness” to physically exercise, i.e. people who are not naturally inclined to physical activity and would rather lie on the sofa. In a different time, Nelson Mandela faced much stronger constraints, which did not prevent him to rigorously follow a training plan during his 27 years of captivity. Here are some lockdown tips or how Mandela managed to stay active in his tiny prison cell. A damp prison cell of 2m2 in which his daily routine started at 5:00am, from Monday to Thursday. In spite of daily and exhausting manual labour, he started by a 45-min run on the spot, followed by 100 push ups, 200 crunches, 50 lunges and calisthenics exercises, during one hour, aka the same duration as the one tolerated outside during the 2020 lockdown… Mandela stuck to this routine from Monday to Thursday, followed by a 3-day period of rest. As a training and recovery enthusiast, I can only be in awe of this opportune alternation between physical activity and recovery time. In addition to boosting your immune system, physical activity is a real moment of release: “Physical activity releases tensions, and tension is the enemy of serenity. I realised that I worked and thought more efficiently when I felt fit, and I consequently rigorously followed, throughout my life, the discipline of training” (Nelson Mandela). The World Health Organisation recommends 2:30 hours of moderately intense physical activity or 1:15 hours of vigorously intense physical activity, or a combination of both per week. These recommendations can still be applied at home, with no special equipment and in a restricted space. Just have fun with a skipping rope, the staircase in your building, weighted plastic bottles or a simple chair on which you can perform several strengthening exercises! Are you interested in another lesson to maintain your physical activity under strict constraints? I knew a soldier who was very fond of running and who spent several months at a time on an aircraft carrier. He told me that he was happy to have a hundred meters of tarmac to pursue his intermittent, back-and-forth training… So, I urge you, as from tonight or tomorrow morning, to make the most of running outside which is still an available option, for now! What’s more, physical activity in the evening paves the way for a good night’s sleep! Take your kids out in the pushchair, they will be delighted to breathe in some fresh air! The ban of any kind of individual physical practice in Paris between 10:00am and 7:00pm means that you can still do it between 7:00pm and 10:00am, which means a 15-hour leeway scope per 24-hour cycle… Once more, the lockdown period, as uncertain as it may be, can be overcome in good health and can be the opportunity to set some healthy habits that you will stick to when this crisis is over.


virus coronavirus Covid-19 health lockdown physical exercise