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The Oldie self-isolation fitness guide

Blog | By Liz Hodgkinson | Mar 23, 2020

A gym session in early 20th-century Stockholm (Credit: the Nordic Museum)

For those who, like me, depend on regular tough exercise for their mental and physical health, these are challenging times indeed. My gym, like everybody else’s, has closed for the foreseeable future and, with it, sadly, my daily lifeline.

In the meantime I have instigated a routine for myself which, quite honestly, is keeping me sane. Here is what works for me:

Home exercise bike

There are all sorts of expensive bikes on the market, some which come with a monthly subscription as you are taken through different workouts with a virtual instructor. However, in the hope that the closures will be temporary, I have ordered a simpler, but still state-of-the-art Bodymax U60 bike from Argos.

Any bike you order should have a screen with a heart monitor, timer, calorie counter and at least 15 different resistance levels. Because I have been doing indoor cycling for many years, I can burn around 100 calories every 15 minutes and work up a sweat with a 45-minute workout. Anybody, however unfit, can do at least some exercise on a stationary bike, and you can read a book or newspaper or turn on pumping music while you are doing it. But hurry – there is currently a nationwide run on these bikes.


I love the treadmill and, at the gym, do 45 minutes and burn 400 or more calories. You can buy a home treadmill and, once again, you do not have to be fit to work out on it. If you can put one foot in front of the other, you can do at least 10 minutes. A home one should come with a screen, adjustable incline and speed level so that you can gradually increase your fitness as time and self-isolation goes on.


I have downloaded a simple but very effective workout, whereby you do 50 repeats of each of these: push ups, dorsal raises (lying on your front and lifting arms and legs up – harder than it sounds) squats, alternate back lunges, calf raises, abdominal crunches, alternate bicycle crunches and a one-minute plank. The whole workout takes about 40 minutes and certainly works up a sweat.


One of my favourite gym workouts is pump, where you lift a bar for a variety of exercises that gradually work the whole body. You can get pump workouts on YouTube but, as you are unlikely to have a bar at home, it’s possible to workout with just weights. I have a set of 2 kg and 3 kg dumbbells and have downloaded the Total Body Home Workout with Dumbbells. Or you can get a kettlebell for kettlebell swings. I use an 8kg, but you can get them from 4kg to 16kg or more. Kettlebells are great for men who want to lose that middle-aged spread and now have a chance to.


This is a wonderfully effective workout, whereby you do 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off for each exercise. Once again, it works the whole body and you can download a variety of Tabata workouts. They are suitable for all levels of fitness, as you can work to your own standard and gradually improve.

While you are stuck at home, do have a look at the fitness workouts on the internet and make sure you do at least some physical exercise every day. I tend to get extremely depressed when forcibly confined to barracks and doing 40 minutes of exercise puts me back into a positive frame of mind, which is the most important thing, surely, at this time.