Food Active’s top tips on staying healthy and active during physical distancing

Food Active’s top tips on staying healthy and active during physical distancing

Please note this article is for information only. For official guidance and regulations relating to COVID-19 please visit

During these unprecedented times, it is important that we look after ourselves and our families to the best of our ability. Whilst trying to eat well, stay hydrated, keep active and manage our stress may not seem as important in the current situation, they can promote good physical and mental health to help us manage and cope through this testing period.

Food Active has compiled some helpful tips on how to stay healthy during physical distancing, which many of our communities are having to undertake to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Eating healthy

Consuming a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best. It is also a great opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen and get creative with some store cupboard ingredients you’ve been meaning to use to create a healthy, home-cooked meal for you and the family. Here are some top tips on how to eat well during physical distancing:

  • Try to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day: remember that fresh, frozen and tinned (watch out for fruit in syrups and sauces with added sugar and salt) all count.
  • When ordering a takeaway from a fast food outlet, café or restaurant try to avoid watch out for excessive portion sizes, deep fried dishes and sides, as well as high in fat or salt toppings.
  • Foods high in fat, salt and sugars are not needed in the diet, so if you do choose to include them then try to have them less often and in smaller amounts. Also look out for lower sugar, salt and fat versions of these products where possible.
  • Whilst at home it can be tempting to snack on less healthy options such as crisps and chocolate, try to stick to healthier snacks such as fruit, vegetable sticks and dip, a boiled egg, glass of semi skimmed or skimmed milk or a slice of malt loaf.

However, it is important to stress that there is no need to stockpile foods or buy more than you usually would. There are no plans to close supermarkets and  trips to these retailers to pick up essentials are allowed (providing we stay 2m away from others in store), and we have enough food in this country to go around, as long as consumers act sensibly and only purchase what they need. The only reason for the shortages you may have seen are caused by panic buying alone, not a shortage of food. Please be sensible when purchasing food and think of others in your community that need to have access to food too.

Keeping hydrated

Making sure we stay hydrated is really important as water is involved in several crucial functions and processes in our body, such as regulating our body temperature and carrying nutrients.

Over the course of the day we lose water in various ways, through our breath, sweat, urine, and bowel movements so it’s important to make sure we top this up throughout the day by drinking atleast 6-8 glasses of water every day. Some top tips include:

  • Tap water is free, contains no calories and is the best source of hydration we can get. If your children aren’t a fan of tap water, try to make it more exciting by adding their favourite fruits such as kiwis, watermelon and berries.
  • Remember – 150ml unsweetened fruit juice will only ever count as one of your five a day, due to the high sugar content.
  • Avoid high sugar drinks, sweetened fruit juices and energy drinks. These drinks can contain lots of sugar which can contribute towards tooth decay and weight gain.
  • Hot drinks such as unsweetened tea and herbal teas all count towards your daily fluid intake.

Staying active

Remember – children and young people (5-18 years old) should aim for around 60 minutes of physical activity every day across the week, and adults (19 and older) 150 minutes moderate intensity activity over the week (or 75 minutes of vigorous, or a combination of both). Whilst this may seem daunting when the kids are off school, gyms are closed and staying at home is advised, it’s easier than you think to stay active during physical distancing. Some top tips include:

  • Tune into online classes – YouTube has a whole host of different classes to suit your preferences. To get the kids up and moving, tune into Joe Wicks’ P.E sessions live every week day morning from 9am – why not join in too?
  • If you are working from home, make sure you take regular breaks to stretch your legs and in general, avoid sitting for long periods of time. Take a walk around the house and if possible the garden to get some fresh air.
  • Household chores such as hoovering, dusting and scrubbing all get you moving and heart racing!
  • If possible, use the garden as your arena and play catch, hopscotch, football, badminton – get out any old games you have stored away for the summer early and get creative, whilst enjoying the spring sunshine.
  • Get the family involved in some active play indoors or outdoors, depending on how much space you have. GoNoodle has some great ideas, but you could also use hula hoops, play balloon volleyball or perfect a dance routine.
  • Going out for a walk, run or bike ride is allowed during physical distancing, providing you follow these rules:
  • You feel well enough and are not showing any symptoms of the coronavirus (see here to find out more)
  • You only go outside alone or with member of your household
  • You only go outside for physical activity once a day
  • Avoid crowded areas as much as possible – try early morning or evening to reduce the amount of people that may also be out
  • Always stay at least 2 metres away from others
  • Maybe include something about active play for children and all the family – what are safe indoor activities that get children and adults active?

Managing stress

Physical distancing can make it more difficult to manage our stress and anxiety levels. In addition, it is normal to feel stressed during periods of crisis, so it is important to try and look after your mental health as much as possible. Some top tips include:

  • Try to eat a healthy and balanced diet and keep active
  • Set a routine and stick to it; set some daily and weekly tasks you would like to get done
  • Stay connected with friends and family as much as possible; FaceTime and WhatsApp video calls are a great way to get some face-to-face contact whilst practising physical distancing.
  • Keep your mind busy with activities; try cooking a new healthy recipe, read a book, crosswords and sudoku or try your hand at some online learning.
  • Get a good nights sleep; if you are struggling to fall asleep at night, avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evenings, take a relaxing bath, use blackout curtains, listen to gentle music or try deep breathing exercises.

Useful resources

Eating well and staying hydrated

British Dietetic Association – COVID19 Advice for the General Public:

The Eatwell Guide:

Staying hydrated:

Healthier takeaways:

Food, immunity and health: what you need to know

Staying active

PE with Joe Wicks: Starting Monday 23rd March, all week from 9am the Body Coach (Joe Wicks) will be live streaming a live workshop aimed at children

Cosmic Yoga: Yoga videos designed for kids aged +3:

Mindful Chair Yoga: suitable for older adults with reduced mobility:

Dance Fitness:

Children’s Themed Dance Classes with Oti Mabuse every week day at 11:30am:

Yoga with Adrianne – suitable for all ages and abilities:

Mental health

Smiling mind: short audio sessions to help with mindfulness:

Future Learn: range of online courses (some free, some costed)

Education and online learning

Eat Them to Defeat Them School Resources:

Premier League Stars: videos and activities to support with Maths, Literacy, PSHE and PE.

BBC Super movers: Interactive videos to support with KS1 Maths, Literacy, PSHE and PE learning

Best online home learning resources for all ages:

The Open University: 1,000 courses from 8 different subject areas all FREE

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