How have people who shielded managed to stay physically active?


During the Coronavirus lockdown, people classed as extremely vulnerable have been strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep visits outside to once per day. This meant that people who have been shielding struggled with staying physically active outdoors.

However, we’ve been seeing some great examples of people who needed to shield and who told us how they’ve still managed to stay physically active at home and how they’ve made the transition to going outside a bit more.

Neil and his family are usually really active and enjoy running and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales and around Leeds. However, during the Coronavirus lockdown, they’ve decided to shield and were asked to stay home for 14 weeks with two small children.

Neil has shared some of his creative ideas that encouraged his family to remain active around the house: ‘I built a make shift bike track for the lads, badminton court from the washing line was adapted, and I scheduled some really silly garden Disco’s which everyone seemed to enjoy – Garden Boogie I called it! I also got crafty and organised a few challenges like a marathon around a 1 mile circuit of the street where I live and a fortnightly relay on the same course. I did these late at night to make sure I don’t connect with anyone’.

He also put the Active Leeds resource ‘Ready Set Rainbow’ on the list (which you can find more about here) which provided much needed structure to the days. They have thankfully managed to get through this period and now they get out a little more and enjoy the great local green spaces.

Another great example comes from the charity Barca which runs youth clubs for 11 to 19-year-olds. They held a social distant doorstep dance session in partnership with the social enterprise Dazl. 50 people danced out in their gardens and a further 30 people joined in. They now plan to extend the sessions to other streets and start running doorstep sport sessions as well.

To see how people in Leeds joined dancing sessions from their doorsteps, watch this short video:

But you might be surprised to find out that people who didn’t use to be really active before lockdown are now on their journey to being physically active! Get Set Leeds spoke to Yorkshire Sport Foundation to get some good examples from across the county.

In Swinton, some local residents were shielding, struggling with mental health and bone pain due to not using their muscles. Sheila, a member of the Swinton Community Focus Group, helped the community by finding the NHS seated exercises on the Active Dearne Swinton page and arranging to run a small bit of activity outside people’s bungalows. This has now turned into a weekly thing to do on a Wednesday afternoon. You can find the NHS seated exercises here:

Another great example is Eileen from Mexborough who has been more active over the lockdown period. She had attended group walking sessions in the past, but without actually doing the activity – mostly enjoying a cuppa and a piece of cake. However, since lockdown, she started going for a weekly walk which helped her meet new people in her community and improve her mental health.

If you’re currently shielding and suffering from mental health issues, you might find the following resources helpful:

Covid-19: guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing:

NHS Every Mind Matters – Looking after your mental health:

Mental health information for people in Leeds:

Mental health information for young people aged under 18:



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