By Alina Budnyuk
If you are anything like me, you can’t imagine life without fun activities. Being a very active person who does not like to sit around doing nothing, I am bringing to your attention some of the top tier activities while we await another tier (if you pardon the pun).
Never have I ever in my life thought I would pick up this piece of equipment, at least past the age of 7 or 8. However, skipping becomes more and more popular as it is an activity that you can do virtually anywhere on your own or with a friend while remaining socially distanced.
Jumping ropes are inexpensive (I grabbed my first one for just under a tenner) and lightweight, which makes them perfect for taking anywhere.
The jumping itself is a great way to stay fit all year round as it makes use of many muscles in your body, including core muscles, legs and shoulders. It can be medium intensity or high intensity, depending on the style and speed you choose, so it’s a great way to improve overall fitness and cardiovascular activity. Peter Schulman, MD, associate professor, Cardiology/Pulmonary Medicine, University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington says: “It strengthens the upper and lower body and burns a lot of calories in a short time”, which is definitely true, as my fitness tracker says on average I burn anywhere from 250-450 calories in just 30 minutes. However, that number depends on the individual, and “you’re putting direct stress on knees, ankles, and hips, but if done properly it’s a lower-impact activity than jogging“, which makes it a wonderful addition to your activity.
Does it get boring? To me it looked quite repetitive at first. BUT. There are plenty of tricks you can learn, and if you like dancing, incorporate some neat footwork into your skipping routine and just have fun! It is the ultimate way to get some exercise that does not feel like a chore to your everyday life because there is no time limit to how long you should be going for, the skill develops rather quickly with practice as it is mainly muscle memory, and you can annoy your friends with never-ending videos of your near-perfect double-unders and criss-crosses on your story. Please do be careful though, as it might cause shin splints – so make sure you have some proper shoes on and do not jump on concrete.
I am sure at this point you are sick of “Best Ever Banana Bread” articles everywhere on the web, so let’s think of something else. When was the last time you baked cookies for yourself or the people you live with? They are versatile and fun to make – the possibilities of different flavour combinations are endless. Ever tried Double Fudge and Irish Cream cookies? What about s’mores, rosemary and cranberry, or carrot cake cookies? If that sounds too complicated, there are plenty of much easier recipes, like the 4 Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies featured on marshasbakingaddiction.com, or 4 Ingredient Shortbread Cookies that can be ready in under an hour, according to afamilyfeast.com.
Not a fan of cookies? I’ve got you covered. Why not try to master your basic sponge-making skills and then jazz it up with some fun-coloured frosting, whipped cream or fresh fruit? My all-time favourite is a lazy take on the Black Forest Gateau – it is cheap and easy to make, and you can also make it a bit healthier by substituting butter with Greek yogurt and using coconut flour instead of normal flour. Plus, it is made with cherries, so that’s one of your five-a-day covered, and higher protein and fibre content makes it more acceptable to have for breakfast. Who doesn’t like cake for breakfast?
I know what you are about to say – it’s long and requires some basic skill at sewing. However, it is not as hard as it may sound, and it allows a great opportunity to spice up some of your old clothes and shoes. I managed to turn my old Vans into one-of-a-kind vintage-inspired shuffling shoes, that I know for sure nobody else has, because I myself came up with the design. They may not look perfect or be identical, but I went with my creative flow and this is what they turned out to look like:
Embroidery is also great for stress management – it’s like drawing if you can’t draw, it requires a certain amount of focus, so you can say goodbye to overthinking if that’s something you struggle with. Claire Hunter from The Guardian says: Sewing is increasingly becoming recognised as an effective way to combat depression, the absorption demanded by needlework – its flow – calming the mind and reducing stress (3). And I couldn’t agree more, hours spent on the activity allowed me to disassociate from everyday problems and focus on just this one thing.
This one may sound like quite a bit of effort, and although it may be time-consuming, there is nothing better than a nice stroll in nature to clear your thoughts and manage stress. In fact, a number of small studies say that spending time in green space—nature preserves, woodlands, and even urban parks — may ease people’s stress levels, says the Harvard Heart Letter (4).
For those who live near Uxbridge, the area is rich with many scenic views – take a walk along the Grand Union Canal either up north or south from the university, and you may be surprised to discover the hidden beauty of our local area.
Little Britain Lake, which is a part of the Colne Valley Nature Reserve, is a home to many species of birds, which makes it a perfect destination if you are interested in birdwatching.
Hiking is a great low impact activity with many health benefits, including improved stamina and cardiovascular health, according to the NHS. It is also a great opportunity to get some alone time in a different setting if you are tired o
f always being in your room, and a perfect way to catch up with a friend while remaining socially distanced. Listen to music, an audiobook or that podcast you’ve been meaning to listen to for ages now, bring a couple of snacks to have a mini picnic by the lake – you will be surprised how much better your average day can get with a little walk in nature.
Every day might feel the same in given circumstances, but there are plenty of things to do even if we can’t socialise normally or go to cinemas or pubs, and I hope you will try some of these activities (if you haven’t already) and find them as exciting as I do.