Keeping fit during isolation

Date published: 26 March 2020

The boss of an award-winning Rochdale gym has come up with some timely advice on how people can stay fit and healthy during the coronavirus lockdown.

Dr Neil Fell PhD set up and manages onePT, which was crowned the National Club of the Year at last year’s UKactive Awards.

Neil said the key to working from home can be broken down into three categories: training; nutrition; and recovery.


He said: “It is generally recommended to improve our health that we should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic (working the heart and lungs) activity such as cycling or brisk walking or running every week.  This can be broken down in to 5 x 30 minutes of exercise.

“The advice from the Prime Minister is that people can continue to get out once a day either on their own or with their family to do these types of activities. Getting out for 15-20 minutes in the sunshine will also help with our production of Vitamin D which is essential to help with our mood and energy levels. In line with government advice this should just in your local area.

“However some people may not be able to go out for a walk or run, and equally the 30 minutes of aerobic activity does not always have to be done at once – it could be broken down into 2 x 15 minutes or 3 x 10 minutes such as marching on the spot or walking up and down the stairs.”

Neil said to be really effective it had to be fun and involve the whole family.

“It could even be play activities in the garden with the family such as badminton, tip cricket, skipping or hop scotch,” he said.

“It is also important to include some strength exercises in your routine. Many gyms such as ourselves are providing online programmes or classes through various apps and technology – especially routines just using your body weight exercises such as squats, sit to stand from a chair and lunges. A lot of gyms and PT studios will also be running various online challenges, such as number of steps, km walked etc.

“It is also important to keep mobile and include some flexibility work as part of our daily routine – perhaps some stretching at night after a warm shower. My wife and daughter have been doing some online yoga classes together.”

Neil also said even doing some gardening was good exercise.

“One final point is that it is important to remember not to over-train,” he said. “Pushing ourselves too hard for four or more sessions per week may have a detrimental effect on our immune system – therefore it is definitely a case of train smarter, not harder.”



Neil said good nutrition was vital to keeping healthy and avoiding piling on the weight.

“Aim for three healthy well balanced meals each day,” he said. “Have protein with every meal, plenty of vegetables (if we can get it), and use fruit as snacks. Remember the saying ‘eat a rainbow a day’. Also remember to keep hydrated by drinking water regularly throughout the day.”

Neil, who is the performance manager at onePT Ltd, said eating sensible portions and eating as a family would also help.

“Slow down and take your time eating the meal,” he said. “This will give chance for signals to be sent to your brain to tell you are full. Perhaps prepare meals in advance that you can store in the fridge or freezer. 

“Try some new recipes – cook from scratch where you can – again, get children involved in the process, helping to prep the food.”

He said in a strange way the lockdown could also be used as an opportunity to change your life for the better.

“Here at onePT we have a saying - ‘it takes 21 days to create a habit, 90 days to create a lifestyle’ – so it might be useful during this time to try and create some positive habits like reducing the amount of sugar you consume; cutting out the fizzy drinks; and drinking more water.”



Neil said a good night’s sleep was essential to being healthy.

“The hormones responsible for growth and repair of the body are released at night, therefore getting into a good deep sleep is really important,” he said.

Some tips to a good night’s sleep include:

  • Create a sleep routine having a regular schedule
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Limit caffeine, especially in the afternoon
  • Do not drink too much water before going to bed
  • Choose de-stressing activities before going to bed such as reading (switch off the TV)
  • Set an appropriate room temperature to sleep
  • Some people benefit from having a warm shower before going to bed
  • Make the room dark
  • Keep the room quiet
  • Wake up appropriately, with light exposure and soft noise

Neil said parents who were also home-school their children after the schools shut needed to plan in some exercise.

“See where you can include exercise / play time as a family – like a school timetable,” he said. “Many of the online PE lessons are on first thing in a morning. Early morning moderate exercise has been shown to boost mental performance throughout the rest of the day – some people may prefer to get up early and go for that walk, cycle or run before breakfast.

“As well as the body, it is also important to keep the mind active, therefore as well as helping our children with their school work, we may also start doing some crosswords or puzzles, learn a new skill or game such as chess, or pick up that musical instrument we haven’t played for a while. I will be trying to teach my daughter to play guitar the guitar.”

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