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  • Writer's pictureSophie de Albuquerque

Five ways to recover from lockdown: 2) gentle exercise for the very tired

Leafy trees in a green field against the sky
Photo by Pixabay

Start small

When we're overtired, exercise can feel like a chore. We might have got out of the habit of exercising while trying to cope with the pressures of work, childcare, home schooling and everything else. That's OK. We can start from wherever we are.

We know that physical activity reduces the risk of illness, and improves our self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy. Who doesn't want all of that? Right now, we may need it more than ever.

So start small. If you can face 20 minutes of moderate activity a day, start there, and let yourself build up gradually.

Keep it light

It can help to keep your approach light to begin with. For example, 'I'm going to try two different types of exercise this week and see which I prefer' or 'I'm going to start by exercising for 20 minutes today'. It can also help to exercise with a friend, to keep it fun and add motivation.

Here are a few things to try, to get you started.


Possibly the easiest way to exercise, walking has the added mental health benefit of getting us out in fresh air and nature. Mental health charity Mind lists the benefits of nature on mental health, including reducing stress and anger, helping us to feel more relaxed and improving our confidence.

Walking app Go Jauntly is a handy way to discover walks, connect with nature and enjoy outdoor adventures in your local area. Aim for a brisk walk every day, and you're well on your way to a good exercise routine.


Swimming is a brilliant workout for the whole body -- great for the cardiovascular system as well as strengthening muscles. The NHS website describes how swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illness and boost your mood.

Just 30 minutes of swimming, two or three times a week, meets the weekly activity target set by the NHS. If you like the idea of swimming outdoors, The Outdoor Swimming Society can help you get started.

Woman practising yoga, in child's pose


Focusing on strength and flexibility, and incorporating stretching and breathing, yoga has a remarkable power to bring our minds and bodies into better balance. It's a great way to ease stress and help with relaxation and sleep.

UK charity The British Wheel of Yoga can help you find a yoga class near you, or online. The NHS website also offers this vinyasa flow yoga video that you can try at home, for free.

Child's pose, as shown in the photo above, is an easy one to practise at home, when you're tired. It opens the hips and elongates the back, easing tension and allowing you to breathe deeply.


Good for you and good for the planet, cycling works as transport as well as exercise. It has the added flexibility of giving you some time to yourself, or working as a family activity.

Cycling UK has everything you need to know about getting started, including guidance on choosing a bike, a journey planner, and UK cycling routes for beginners.


A really lovely thing to do with kids, a kitchen disco has the power to bring fun and spontaneity to even the most tired parents at the end of the day. It's an easy way to lift the spirits and help everyone in the family let off steam. All you need is a radio or some music on your phone, and to go with the flow.

In case you missed it...

The previous post in this week-long blog series is on easy ways to nourish your body, and you can read it here.

Next in this blog series...

I'll be covering mental health, creativity and rest & relaxation. Please follow along, and feel free to share this post if you enjoyed it.


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