Next Monday marks "Freedom Day" in England, the day when the vast majority of Covid-19 restrictions are set to lift.
After 16 months of working from home, on-and-off self-isolation and less physically active lifestyles, the return to normality will be a shock to the system for many, so Chongsu Lee, physiotherapist and the founder/creator of the Backhug, a revolutionary product for back pain, has given us advice on how to get our bodies ready for this big change.
"Just as footballers do a warm-up routine before the game kicks off, you may want to try a daily warm-up routine to prepare your body for your long-awaited freedom from restrictions," Chongsu advises. "Focus your effort on improving things that were negatively affected by your sedentary lifestyle during lockdown. Typically, that would be your flexibility, strength and stamina. Also, unlearn as many bad habits picked up over lockdown as you can, such as the sweets or biscuits that may have caused you to put on weight."
He recommends committing to a 30-minute daily exercise routine that goes as follows:
Start with 10 minutes on flexibility: include back stretches, such as the cat-cow, and hamstring stretches, such as touching your toes.
Continue with 10 minutes on strength: Focus on core abs and knees; bridging exercises can be great for both.
Finish with 10 minutes on stamina: stair climbing, side planks and push-ups - you'll be happy when you're finished.
However, if that sounds like too much to begin with, ease yourself back into exercise and build up to 30 minutes gradually.
"Start low and slow. If you are not active, a full half-hour of exercise can sound a bit too much," he adds. "Start by exercising for five to 10 minutes to begin with, then increase the duration gradually through a few sessions. Instead of doing a 30 minutes session in one go, you can split it into two 15-minute sessions, or three 10-minute bouts of exercise throughout the day."
And if you're heading back to the gym, Chongsu wants people to remember not to push themselves too hard.
"That old adage of 'no pain, no gain' is simply not true. You don't need to sweat on day one. All you need to do is get your heart rate up higher than normal. How hard you exercise on your return to the gym should depend on what kind of shape you're in when you get there," he explains.