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Blog: Staying Active

How can we stay physically and mentally fit and healthy away from our normal routines? Director of Sport and Performance, Mr Tom Hill has some great advice.

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As the Director of Sport and Performance, what are you doing for your regular physical exercise each day?
Like most people, getting creative and keeping things interesting by mixing it up will be important. So, for me, it will be using various resistance bands from PTP, dumbbells and kettlebells, with bursts of spin cycle and core workouts, followed most nights by a relaxing stretch, yoga or roller session.

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Why is regular physical activity so important right now?
As we significantly increase our screen time and sitting down, our metabolism needs a boost to ensure we maintain a healthy, happy balance. Research shows that sport and physical activity improves academic outcomes, cognitive function, self-esteem and social skills, and is likely to provide children (and adults) with the optimum physiological and psychological conditions for maximising learning and concentration. During this period of physical distancing, exercise provides the perfect remedy to overcome the impact this new challenge will have on our daily life.

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Many of the recent measures have taken natural activity out of our days, so how important is planning for physical activity each day? Do you have any tips on how to establish a routine?
Without doubt our normal routines have been turned upside down, but it’s important to establish a new routine which includes regular physical activity. I’d suggest you identify the time that best suits you and factor that into your schedule, whether first thing in the morning or after the day’s structured learning is complete. Small bursts of activity during the day will also keep you fresh, so lunchtime and snack breaks are perfect to do a quick 15-minute circuit, walk around the block, shoot a few hoops, whatever takes your fancy. It doesn’t really matter when you exercise, as long as you can make it all add up to approximately 60mins each day.

Weight-training increases metabolism, burns fat and increases strength. Can you suggest some household items that could substitute for weights or resistance style training?
Firstly, I’ll advocate for any exercise to be done safely with correct technique, within your limits and in a controlled manner. However, if the bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats, lunges, etc are no longer pushing you hard enough, then one good way to add some weight to your body is pack a backpack full of books, bottled water or bags of rice. Then strap the backpack on to you nice and tight and away you go!

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How can we motivate each other to stay active?
Over the coming weeks we will be providing numerous suggestions on what exercise to do and watch this space for upcoming challenges that can keep you motivated as our time apart progresses! The principle in short, is to set yourself a goal/s, keep track of your progress and keep trying to gradually improve it. If you can follow this simple progressive overload approach, you will be amazed how far you can go in a month or so!

How can teams stay connected at this time and provide support to each other?
Creatively! Online platforms and social media under secure settings are great ways to stay socially connected. We encourage everyone to share with us their at-home workout sessions, set-up via the Wenona Sport Instagram page. We are all in this together and would love to see how you’re going, answer any questions and share your journey with our community.

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At home, it’s so tempting to raid the cookie jar or eat chocolate. How important is good nutrition right now? Any tips for healthy snacks?
It’s always the first thing we do after a long stint on the computer…go to the fridge and hope something magically jumps out at us! The problem is, that’s not going to help us maintain a healthy balance.
My suggestion is to still plan your daily meals as you would if coming to School. Set aside ‘crunch n sip’, recess, lunch and some healthy snacks to ensure our minds are in good shape throughout the day and keep the pantry closed! We will share some resources on the Sport Portal page about establishing good healthy routines during this time and various other suggestions for the active minds and bodies we are all aiming to have.

Can you suggest some online sport-specific resources that would be helpful?
We will be providing suggested general and sport specific workout and skills-based sessions on Portal, via Instagram and also promoting current resources tailored to the youth market, i.e. NetFit

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Mindfulness is paying attention to our thoughts, actions and feelings. Could you give us some tips or suggestions for breathing and meditation exercises that help us if we are feeling stressed or anxious?
It is totally normal to be feeling heightened levels of anxiety and stress during this time, but equally, it is important to focus on deliberate practice to manage this through self-regulation, daily reflection activities and slowing down. Yoga or nightly stretching and mobility exercises focusing on your breathing, as well as accessing credible apps like Smiling Minds, is where I’d start.

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We are spending a lot of time looking at our screens and we know that being sedentary is not good for our postures. Can you give us some good ideas that would help us with this?
Firstly, I’d encourage everyone to ensure their learning and work space is suitably set-up so that you are able to maintain good posture.
Secondly, I’d encourage you to regularly get up and walk around during the day. Rotating our bodies, doing some light activity and getting some fresh air will all help. A nightly stretching and mobility routine will also assist to stay flexible and ready for another day.

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We know how important a good night’s sleep is. But what if we are having trouble sleeping?
The most important thing is to establish a good routine, with consistent bed and wake-up times that will provide between 8 to 10 hours sleep per night. During the day, ensure you get enough natural light, exercise to build up appropriate levels of fatigue and avoid too much screen time before going to bed. Doing meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises to remove the daily stress and create a clearer mind before hitting the pillow are also useful strategies if you are struggling to fall asleep.

Check out Wenona’s Staying Active Checklist (PDF 181.7KB)

Check out Wenona’s first Workout Guide from our Sport Captain, Sophie (PDF 1.4MB)